The Maroon Tiger, the student newspaper of Morehouse College, today released “The Body Issue,” which features 30 students from Morehouse and Spelman who agreed to pose nude and tell their own stories of overcoming abuse, addiction, depression, and a variety of other issues.
“I remember following the release of ESPN’s Body Issue and thinking to myself how distorted a presentation it was to showcase these ideal images,” said MT managing editor Jared Loggins. “Frankly, I think the edition missed the mark. Here we are, living in a diverse country. The vast majority of Americans don’t look like that (not that having the perfect physique is a bad thing). The Maroon Tiger Staff wanted to created something of a socially conscious and radically different response to ESPN. And that’s what got the ball rolling.”
“The Body Issue” was intended to serve as a self-affirmation tool for the students of all body types in the midst of a society that idolizes a certain physique, and was produced as part of The Maroon Tiger‘s ARTober campaign to re-define and showcase that which we consider art on campus.
“Initially, we wanted to make this issue a socially conscious version of ESPNs Body Edition. This edition, with the tagline, ‘The Bodies We Want,’ is not indicative of the reality that we as students — or, broadly, Americans — face,” said editor-in-chief Darren Martin. “Then the MT team started to research a narrower topic — body politics on college campuses and the mental/physical effects on students who struggle to change or hide themselves behind a veil in order to ‘fit in.’ This edition does not only focus on the physical body, but mind and soul as well. We wanted our peers to be able to liberate themselves through the technique of a narrative and, in return, inspire and liberate others because of their transparency.”
It was important that the students communicate with administration along the way, to ensure they had full support and buy-in of the university, and to be able to showcase a possibly controversial art form at such a traditionally conservative institution, Martin said.
“We had a close connection with the appropriate administration[, and] they were supportive of this effort. We made sure that we heard concerns and sentiments from a plethora of administrators in order to create a more holistic, tasteful approach to this issue,” he said.
Overwhelmingly, feedback on social media has been positive. Students and alumni have taken to Twitter to commend the staff on a “classy, tasteful, fantastic” job. And many are calling the issue a must-see.
” I believe that’s a testament to an increasingly progressive student culture,” Loggins said. “But beyond reactions, either negative or positive, students have to continue to drive the conversation and hold each other accountable to having healthy conversations concerning issues that impact black bodies every waking hour. And this what could be so great about the liberal arts experience: being able to hold each other to a standard of progressivism that might transform the experience.”
Martin and Loggins said that even in the planning stages, the publication received a tremendous amount of support from their peers, who understood the importance of having the body image conversation. They received over 50 inquiries from students willing to pose for the project.
You can check out the full digital version here.