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Comments: Week of August 21, 2017

1. New York’s “Fall Fashion” issue turned its focus to the plus-size market and the women who design the clothes, model them, and buy them. The cover featured Jada Yuan’s story on Ashley Graham, who herself disdains the term plus-size (“It’s like, ‘Plus what?’ ” she says) and is paving the way for a new generation of “curve” models (“Now, This Is a Supermodel,” August 7–20). Such a model on a fashion-issue cover is still a somewhat rare occurrence, and readers took note. Charles Monagan, who spent 24 years as the editor of Connecticut magazine, wrote: “About 15 years ago, we thought it would be a good idea to put a plus-size model on the cover. Readers seemed to think it was great, but a lot of the advertisers hated it. They simply did not want their products associated with ‘overweight’ people. I trust that your cover will find more ready acceptance.” Jennifer Schatz added, “What an inspiring article — in words but more so in photos. Ashley Graham is gorgeous and that butt-in-the-air sexy photo made my jaw drop as proof above all else that our culture is finally changing.” Not everyone was so taken with the photographs: “Although this article about Ashley Graham was interesting, this photo shoot of her representing larger women is unfortunate, a vulgar caricature,” wrote Rochelle Wilensky. “She has been able in the past to marry her physical size to contemporary taste, elegance, and sexual attractiveness. That is not the case here. This is self-aggrandizement without a passing glance at its consequences, an unfortunate sense of style reminiscent of the bordello.” Others responded to Graham’s discussion of how race shapes her experience as a model. “I find all the fawning over [Graham] somewhat disappointing,” wrote Brande Victorian at MadameNoire. “At the end of the day, she’s just another white woman being praised for a frame more familiar to black women and one in which we’re regularly shunned for. The ­silver lining is Graham is well aware of this inequity and why it’s so.” Model Marquita Pring, a peer whom Graham has championed, wrote, “I am so proud of Ashley Graham: She is a powerhouse who is leading the way for curvier women in the mainstream media. I was elated when I read that she was acknowledging the fact that her body type is the norm for many women of color and that a major part of her success is because of the fact that she is a white woman. As a curvy woman of color in the fashion industry, I personally have experienced bias on many occasions. I am half Latina, and I know I am limited by the double whammy of my skin color and clothing size. I have been modeling for 12 years, and yes, we’ve come a long way, but it’s not enough when the media still needs to point out that these are groundbreaking moments. I’m still waiting for this to be the norm. As Jada Yuan points out, women of my size are a $20 billion a year business. Ashley has shown the world curvy women own their bodies and are a force to be reckoned with. I’m here to say, let’s stop putting labels on us — we’re women with rocking bodies, great attitudes, and we have a lot to say. We are here to stay!”

2. Accompanying the Graham feature was a report from Ashley C. Ford on why the plus-size market can no longer be ignored (“Fashion for the Sixty-Seven Percent,” August 7–20). @TanyaGetz tweeted, “Relevant and inspiring article. Also, the women featured in the photos throughout are stunning.” And @ Lissmami tweeted, “I’m glad you used the word fat. Rosie O’Donnell taught me that it’s a real adjective and it’s okay.” Added @ jahansell, “I’ve been plus-size for decades and have read many versions of this story over the years. But it does feel different now. I like my options.” But other readers bemoaned the disparity between the article and the models featured by advertisers in the magazine’s pages. Carla Sadik Blumenthal wrote, “I was reading the article only to find between the pages a four-page spread of skinny models. You present a report on the other half of women who struggle with their body images in this thin-focused society and callously contaminate it with advertisement that negates the premise.”

3. The issue included a portfolio from photographer Holly Andres, who spent six weeks traveling across America, recording the stories of women she met and shooting them in the season’s clothes (“The 43-Day Fashion Shoot,” August 7–20). An expanded version of this story is featured on New York Magazine’s newly redesigned, with video interviews and additional photos of the women Andres encountered on her cross-country voyage.