Essence (July '04) featuring Randi Graves

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Posted by HSG on June 27, 2004 at 17:17:31:

Although Myrna Blyth's Spin Sisters has taught us all to be rather skeptical about "mainstream" fashion/lifestyle magazines, the new issue of Essence is more size-positive than most. In addition to featuring full-figured actress/comedienne Mo'Nique on the cover, it includes an eight-page fashion layout starring Wilhelmina's Randi Graves.

The layout is called "Summer School," and casts Ms. Graves in the role of the seductive teacher who turns her students' thoughts to . . . non-academic subject matter. The fashions are not bad, and the setting is terrific--an imposing, venerable expression of the 19th-century style. Randi's "retro" hairstyle is a matter of taste, but perfectly in keeping with the theme of the layout. And the model's alluring expressions burn a hole into the camera lens with sheer intensity.

In the issue's brief interview with Mo'Nique, the actress reaffirms her familiar size-positive doctrine, stating:

I've always had real brothers around me who said I looked sexy. I had no reason to doubt them. Personally I can't wait for Hugh Hefner to call to ask me to pose nude. Women need to be comfortable in their skin. . . . If you're not at ease with your body, then you need to stand in the mirror every day and look at yourself butt-naked and say, "I'm worthy."

What else would one expect from the author of a book with the entertaining title, Skinny Women Are Evil?

Like Glamour and other such publications, Essence delivers the usual array of "mixed messages" about body love, which are by turns encouraging and disappointing. But to have a plus-size actress on the cover and a plus-size model in a fashion spread is a definite sign of progress--and for this, the magazine deserves our accolades.

* * *

Here is our favourite tear sheet from Randi's Essence layout. Lifelong scholars will find the juxtaposition of the Classically-proportiond model and those wonderfully archaic-looking tomes particularly appealing . . .

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