Freshly greased athletes in the prime of their careers and physical prowess aren’t the only ones who can flaunt their physiques across the pages of a magazine. Last week, The Maroon Tiger, Morehouse College’s student newspaper, released “The Body Issue” which features 30 students from Morehouse and the neighboring Spelman College who agreed to pose nude and share their stories of overcoming abuse, addiction, mental illness and other issues.
While the issue was modeled after ESPN The Magazine’s, popular “Body” issue, MT staff said they wanted to portray a more realistic view of the human body, reflective of their student population with their “Body” issue.
“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,” MT managing editor Jared Loggins told HBCU Digest. “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 create something of a socially conscious and radically different response to ESPN. And that’s what got the ball rolling.”
The issue was produced as part of The Maroon Tiger’s ARTober campaign that aims to re-define and showcase what students on campus consider art. In the issue students share personal stories of how they’ve overcome everything from eating disorders and depression, to sexual abuse and color complexes.
“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.”
Since its release last week, the response to the issue has been overwhelmingly supportive. Students, alumni and the general public have taken to social media to congratulate the newspaper on a job well done.
ESPN even gave a shout-out to the issue, tweeting “Shoutout to Morehouse College and @themaroontiger for their very own body issue.”
View the full digital version here.