For its May issue, Elle gathered quite the lineup of stars on multiple covers. We're talking a Hadid, a Baldwin, a Victoria's Secret Angel — and Candice Huffine, who stuns in her cover shot, clad in an untied, dusty rose Fendi number that pops against the backdrop. But Huffine's cover is more than just a great fashion moment. Out of all six cover stars, Huffine is the only one whose full body is shown, and the words "curve" and "plus" are noticeably absent from the cover lines.
In addition to Huffine, Bella Hadid, Hailey Baldwin, Elsa Hosk, Maria Borges, and Jasmine Tookes each front their own covers for the beauty-themed issue. While racial diversity continues to be a (necessary) hot topic across runways and magazine editorials industrywide, models of different sizes are making names for themselves via cover coups like this, in addition to on runways (alongside straight-size models) and on social media. Just last month, model Ashley Graham added her first Vogue cover to her portfolio, though the model was sandwiched between six other women. And the fact that Graham covered her leg with her hand in the shot caused quite the backlash, but that didn't deter from celebrating the fact that the American edition of the high-profile glossy had never done anything like it before.
Even Huffine's own Vogue cover didn't sit well with readers: The model covered Vogue Mexico last month, in a shot lensed by Peter Ash Lee in which Huffine is nude, clinging to a bouquet of flowers. Some felt that Huffine's lack of clothing exemplified an issue that plagues curvy models today, seeing as more and more designers are expanding the sizes of their lines. To wit: Huffine was the first curvy model to be photographed for the Pirelli calendar; she also covered the always-boundary-pushing Vogue Italia in 2011.
But Huffine's latest cover is remarkable for a couple of reasons. Sure, with the help of a smoky eye and some next-season duds, Huffine ticks every box a cover model should. But the fact that she was shot full-body, as opposed to portrait-style like the rest of the cover stars, says a lot about Elle's unwavering commitment to representing all types of models — not just thin ones, and not just celebrities, either (though, we still can't get over that Melissa McCarthy moment). Models like Tara Lynn, Robin Lawley, and Ashley Graham have covered the magazine several times over the past decade. But for Huffine, her Elle debut was the epic realization of goals she's had since she was in grade school.
"For as long as I can remember, I dreamt of being a model," Huffine wrote in an Instagram post sharing the feat with her followers. "Anytime there was an opportunity to write down my future goals in class it was 'move to New York City and become a fashion model'. There was no plan B for me. So my body type wasn't ideal measurements, minor detail. I refused to be told I couldn't become what I had always imagined and committed myself to working tirelessly for the day when my size wouldn't dictate my possibility. I hope this cover can serve as a symbol for anyone who believes they can, that they are, that they will be. If you wake up every morning and can think of nothing but your dream, follow it and never stop."
Huffine being part of Elle's diverse lineup is an encouraging reminder that, nope, beauty certainly doesn't come in a single aesthetic (or size). And for those who feel differently, Huffine has a message for you, via the issue's official press release: "Women have to come together in a way we haven’t before. We’re united and not standing for less than we deserve. It’s about celebrating who we are and not backing down. It’s not a time to be quiet."