Ebony Magazine confronts the controversial topic of body image with a curvy cover for their March issue. The photo, prominently displaying plus-sized women and titled “The Body Brigade,” has Black America talking about how comfortable or uncomfortable we are with different body types.

The cover features blogger Gabi Fresh, singer Jazmine Sullivan, actress Danielle Brooks, and songstress Chrisette Michele, all of whom flaunt their curves in military-inspired outfits. The cover, which has received both positive and negative feedback, takes direct aim at society’s mass obsession with skinny, and allows these full-figured women to show America what it’s like to be comfortable in their own skin.

On Thursday, Kierna Mayo, Editor-in-Chief of Ebony Magazine, and JeffriAnne Wilder, Ph.D. Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of North Florida, spoke with Roland Martin and the NewsOne Now discussion panel about the magazine cover that has set social media ablaze.

When asked what brought about Ebony’s “Body Brigade” cover, Mayo said, “It was a long time coming.” She added the decision to produce the polarizing imagery centered around defining “what it is to be a free Black woman.” 

Mayo continued, “For many Black women, the definition of freedom is tied to the conquering of fears, and for so many women, body image is one of the ultimate fears — how we see ourselves and how the world sees us is a critical conversation that happens in the hearts and minds of most women, virtually every single day.” 

The Editor-in-Chief of Ebony Magazine explained when the decision was made to speak to “plus-sized” women, “you can’t imagine the depths of emotion” and the “conversation and language” that was released.

A recent national study shows that 82 percent of Black women are considered overweight or obese, as compared to 63 percent of White women. “So if you are a size 12, which is typically what retail uses as their measurement for plus-size … you are in the majority,” Mayo said.

She added, “However, that majority is not reflected, it’s not affirmed, that image is not lifted and what you see in Hollywood, what you see on the covers of the magazines are women who don’t look like you, and I think that’s why this is such a singular moment.”

JeffriAnne Wilder, author of Color Stories: Black Women and Colorism in the 21st Century (Intersections of Race, Ethnicity, and Culture), shared her view on why she feels it was critically important for Ebony to release the cover:

“It’s really wonderful to celebrate fullness of all the wonderful ways and the diversity of Black womanhood,” Wilder said. “How many times do we have to see other non-Black women and their bodies all the time ‘breaking the internet’ and no one is pushing back against that.”

Wilder added, “I think it’s important, I think it’s great, and I think we should be celebrating” Black women in this way.

Watch the NewsOne Now discussion addressing Black women’s views on body image in the video clip above, and let us know how you feel about seeing plus-sized women adorning the cover of Ebony Magazine.

TV One’s Now has moved to 7 A.M. ET, be sure to watch “NewsOne Now” with Roland Martin, in its new time slot on TV One.

Subscribe to the “NewsOne Now” Audio Podcast on iTunes. 

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