Cosmopolitan published an article on Wednesday titled “Ashley Graham just proved everybody wrong and landed the cover of Vogue.” Indeed, the famously outspoken plus-size model is featured on the cover of the March issue, but not alone—she’s sandwiched between six other models, including Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid.
While every girl in the photo wears a black quarter-sleeve turtleneck with colorful high-waist retro-style bikini bottoms, Graham is the only one decked out in all black, and has her right arm—the arm closest the camera—resting on her thigh. She is the only one whose hand is covering that shapely part of her body.
Sure, featuring a plus-size model is a big step for Vogue. Also, the models on the cover are women of many different races. Big bold letters just beneath the photo read, “WOMEN RULE!” and below, “Fashion’s Fearless Females.” In an Instagram caption, Vogue says it is celebrating the “modern American woman,” redefining what is and what should be considered beautiful—that is, everyone.
But if Vogue is sincerely trying to revolutionize fashion and make the claim that “the new beauty norm is no norm,” why does the cover story devote three paragraphs to Graham but five to Hadid? Why is Graham the only model covering her thigh? Where is that “fearless”-ness the words on the cover shout for? If we want to be bold about this, then let’s be all-the-way bold about it. You can’t halfway a revolution.
Graham has become an icon for millennials, as well as women who aren’t a size 2, everywhere. For years she was told she would not make it in fashion because of her curvy body. Landing the cover of Elle Quebec in 2014, Sports Illustrated last year, and now Vogue—not to mention getting her own non-thigh-gap Barbie doll—are all huge steps toward body inclusivity. But in its reluctance to show her body in it all its realness, Vogue isn’t celebrating the modern American woman, but instead highlighting the power of our thin-obsessed, body-conscious culture.
Next time, give Graham her own front-facing, arms-out, embrace-me cover.