Vogue Arabia is fast-proving to me the most progressive of all the Vogue Issues having featured women of colour, a Saudi women driving and hijabi models to name but a few. Their latest issue brings together two of the most popular stunning plus-size models and its a must-see.
Vogue Arabia's July/August 2018 issue is all about the 'the body revolution' toward greater inclusivity of people of all shapes and sizes and the cover stars are two shining beacons of body positivity and self-love, undefinedand Paloma Elsesser.
The two models appear on three covers for the Dubai-based fashion magazine, all shot by Miguel Reveriego, including two with solo images of Ashley and Paloma, and another of the pair posing together.
In the cover interview, we hear from Ashley, who says making people comfortable with themselves has always been her calling: "My mother told me that when I walked into a room, I would greet every single person, even at three years old. It was more of an emotion that I would give people, and it would leave them feeling good about who they are," she said. "I think that's what I'm doing today: letting women know that they are worthy, that they are beautiful, and that they can be happy with who they are in their skin."
Paloma talks about self-acceptance. "The feelings that I have about my body today aren't very different from the way I felt about it in first grade," she said. "What has changed is the way I navigate those feelings."
Read an excerpt from the interview below:
Models and body activists Ashley Graham and Paloma Elsesser are changing perceptions of size with their boundless drive, intelligence, and self-love. Finally, the fashion industry may just serve every woman.
The first time I caught sight of American model Ashley Graham was three years ago inside a palatial salon in Place Vendôme, Paris. The City of Light was one of the pit stops on the European tour for the charity fundraiserCash & Rocket. By day, Graham was one of the 80 women behind the wheel of a red Maserati and that night, she was in high gear. It was impossible not to notice her. Like the other models in the room, at more than 1.8m in stiletto heels, she was statuesque. Unlike the other models in the room, she was a US size 14. Juxtaposed with such razor-straight bodies, hers had an almost hallucinogenic effect. But if her hourglass figure made her stand out, it was her aura that seemed to pull with riptide force everyone towards her. Observing her cross the room was akin to watching Egyptian dancer Tahiya Karioka transfix a crowd of men with the sway of her hips. Only with Graham, it was women who fluttered around her excitedly, like bees at the hive of their queen. In return, she offered earnest conversation and her warm, staccato laugh.
In the three years that followed, Graham has reached enormous success. A Sports Illustrated cover – the first featuring a curvy model. A contract with Revlon alongside fellow Vogue Arabia cover stars Imaan Hammam and Adwoa Aboah. She published her autobiography, A New Model: What Confidence, Beauty, and Power Really Look Like; produced swimsuit and lingerie lines; and gave a TEDx talk, where she shared her mantra “I am bold. I am brilliant. I am beautiful. Beauty beyond size.” Search those last words, which have since become a social media hashtag, and more than 300 000 images fill the screen with unretouched pictures of women – for the most part in bikinis – appearing like Peter Paul Rubens and Jenny Saville muses, indulging both the viewer and themselves with voluptuous flesh; dimpled thighs and all. Captions read, “Confidence will make you happier than any diet will,” and, “Summer’s going to get whatever body I give it.” All this pioneered by Ashley Graham, tenth highest paid model in the world, aka love-your-cellulite-and-more, revolutionary shapeshifter from Nebraska, USA.