Big ups and thanks to the hardworking bloggers at Jezebel — for it was there that I got to see almost all of the new issue of Vogue Italy. And it’s gorgeous. The photography is amazing, the women look stunning, and I am totes going to buy this magazine as a keepsake for myself.

The showstopper for me was Miss Toccara Jones, who — to quote the homegirl Fresh over at C&D — brought her Poccaras out to play. Don’t hurt em, girl!

Breasteses aside, the photo shoot of Toccara absolutely floored me. I always thought she was gorgeous on ANTM (although I must admit inwardly cringing during that Takes the Cake show she hosted on BET). I hear Toccarra’s working on an exercise DVD (soon to be available on her official website), and in the meantime she’s got tees for sale). I’d definitely check out her workout DVD. I can only say this only now that she’s apparently over her Celebrity Fit Club diva fit (NOT a good look).

It’s obvious that whatever Toccara’s doing is working for her. That’s a body that a bella like me can aspire to in the here and now — not a distant (and emotionally impossible) ideal. I say work. It. Toccara! I love the image of her “lifting” the car — very strong, very sexy, very powerful, and VERY opposite of the waifish, wan models we so typically see on Vogue USA. If Anna Wintour isn’t taking notes yet, she should be.

Toccara is Ava Gardner, Sophia Loren, Brigitte Bardot, Marilyn Monroe gorgeous in some of those photos. Her makeup is giving me major beauty inspiration. It thrilled me to the bone to see a curvy chick featured among the rail thin models. And it also made me happy to see a few afrobellas sprinkled in between Vogue Italia’s more unbeweaveable ‘do’s — Hollis, you are gorgeous. Represent!

Watching women like Toccara become fitter while still maintaining their curves is inspiring to a bella who is trying to improve her health and shed some weight by way of diet and exercise. For me, looking at photoshopped images of Mariah, Janet, or insert-hypersexed-scantily-clad-pop star here has never worked as inspiration. Instead, I look to celebs who I can identify with, who I know must work consistently hard and sweat to achieve their goals. That’s why I admire the efforts of Missy Elliott — who lost 71 pounds in an effort to escape the high blood pressure that runs in her family — and Queen Latifah, who is working to lose 5 to 10 percent of her body weight with Jenny Craig. Like them, I am proud of my curves, but I’m also trying to lose some weight for health reasons.

Another of my fitness inspirations is Jennifer Hudson, who became my friend in the head pretty much the moment this aired.

The Jennifer Hudson of today is glam to the nth degree, and with the Hollywood contracts has come a complete makeover from her hair on down. J Hud has owned up to the fact that she’s working hard to shed pounds — That’s Fit revealed that she “wakes up at 4:00AM to run for an hour, followed by an hour long workout in the gym with her trainer.” Wow. That’s dedication, commitment, and time that I wish I had. Despite her efforts, JHud still appears to be um, photoshopped within an inch of her life on the cover of her latest single. But in her new video, Spotlight, she struts her stuff and looks both real and stunning, IMO. I like the song! What do you think, bellas? The video’s so minty fresh that I couldn’t find an embeddable clip to share here… so instead, here’s one of my favorite JHud clips EVAH — her Letterman performance of I Am Changing. And she is!

She looks amazing, and I love when she sings that song in Dreamgirls. I am always enthralled when she sings live — how effortlessly that marvelous voice just pours out of her. Keep on keeping on, Jennifer!

For more health and fitness inspiration, check out Revenge of the Curves — the latest blog from the prolific Nichelle of Anovelista and 55 Secret Street.

Do you have any real-life I-could-do-that fitness role models? Or fitness tips? Share!

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Wes says:
July 15, 2008, 10:10 am
I've been kind of slacking in the gym since May but for me the most effective machine is the treadmill. I usually alternate between that and the elliptical or the crossramp, but I've noticed the most change through the treadmill. And I'm NO runner. I do interval training (I run for 2 min, walk for 1 min, for a total of 40 min.- subtract 10 for warm up and cool downs). Each week I increase the interval. For example, the next week I might run 3 minutes and walk for 1... It all depends on what you can manage. After the cardio training, I'd normally hit the weights.
nyc/caribbean ragazza says:
July 15, 2008, 11:18 am
I agree with you regarding Toccara and Hollis...stunning. It seems some people are having issues with the nudity. Sigh. Get over it. They are just breasts. I see them everywhere here (in ads, women breastfeeding, women going topless on the beach) nobody cares. The Puritans did a number on us Americans. ha This issue will sell out in the U.S. which contradicts all those people who say "black models don't sell."
Mrs.Mckinzie says:
July 15, 2008, 11:25 am
My weight is out of control,and i'm working really hard to fix this problem.I weigh 280 pounds(almost shaved off 10 ,but i'm gonna be real).My blood pressure is border line, so is my sugar,and cholesterol.I don't like taking meds so the only choice that I have to regain control of my health is doing it myself.For a month now i've been watching my salt intake,ridind my exercise bike,and eating smaller portions of food.I went on a chocolate binge the other day(that time of the month) ,but i'm back on track now.It's hard,but I do have willpower so i'm gonna stay at it.I have family members who power walk in the morning so I will be joining them soon.Thanks for this post Bella it's right on time.
Courtie says:
July 15, 2008, 12:27 pm
I have been slacking for a good long time, but when I was in my best shape a while back, I was dancing and doing kickboxing. I get bored easily, and the kickboxing kept me focused and it helped me get out my frustration after work. I'd recommend some form of dancing or martial arts. That's how I managed to both drop weight and also tone up at the same time.
gina says:
July 15, 2008, 1:19 pm
where can I find a copy of this? I'm in the south, and the bookstores here only carry french and American vogue (figures!)
TJ says:
July 15, 2008, 2:39 pm
I have always liked the look of female athletes as opposed to models and other folks who just don't eat to look like that. Being underweight is not healthy either, by the way. I've always liked Toccara, so I'm glad I missed her divafied hijinks.
Los Angelista says:
July 15, 2008, 2:43 pm
I am dying to get a copy of this issue. I've been scouring magazine stands for one. It'll be interesting to see the nudity because I can't picture an American magazine showing Toccara's tatas. As far as fitness role models, my sister is mine. She's not famous and has never been photoshopped, but I've seen her lose 50 pounds and go from barely climbing a staircase to running 5-6 miles a day, all without losing her booty! She definitely inspires me!
Glow says:
July 15, 2008, 3:06 pm
Have any of you heard of the THE FIRM video series? Its the truth. You get great results because it combines aerobics with resistance to rev up your metobolism. I lost baby weight 3'times doing it. In a healthy way too because I too don not believe in starvation. Kimberly Garrison is a fitness expert out of Philly. She has a great podcast on fitness topics. Check her out. Speaking of photo shop, I think that would make a great topic and would love to hear more about it because I am starting not to be able to deciper between how people really look and what is photoshoped. I was on another blog and looking at a picture of a famous celebrity who shall remain nameless. Her picture looked so doctored she did not look real. How far are they going with technology to sell us fantasty of how great people "really" look?
Eva Alba says:
July 15, 2008, 3:17 pm
I agree with you regarding Toccara and Hollis…stunning.I have always liked the look of female athletes as opposed to models and other folks who just don’t eat to look like that.
von says:
July 15, 2008, 3:58 pm
toccara looks splendid in this issue.
SoFrolushes says:
July 15, 2008, 4:13 pm
Many outlets who carry Italian Vogue in the UK have already sold out and they have ordered more than they usually would have. People are selling the Black edition on ebay to the highest bidder already. I wish I could get a copy will try and only because my sistas are featured predominantly. I do like Tocarro and J-Hud (waiting ever so patiently for her album)
Happy Nappy Head says:
July 15, 2008, 4:33 pm
What an excellent post! I have been hunting for this mag and am going to get it before the 26th! I am fighting to lose baby weight right now and I am slowly but surely seeing results. I at least am back to my fitness standars from before baby. My tips are to keep variety, eat lots of fruits and veggies, watch portion and invest in weighing (scales are as low as four bucks), and counting calories. Tupperwear is your best friend when losing weight because you can take whole meals, eat breakfast high in fiber and don't be afraid of weights or getting sweaty. a lot of women frown on weights for fear of bulk, but that is not the case. You would have to try very hard to add bulk. Don't slack on your weight. If you can do the last rep easily, add more weight. I live by circuit training because I have asthma. Circuits also help you burn fat faster. Lastly, my biggest tip is see exercise as a spiritual thing you should do to thank god for your body. It helps me stay focused. Changes will be immediate. Good luck Bella! Sorry for rambling!
Robin says:
July 15, 2008, 4:42 pm
I love Tocarra! Temper tantrum and all. She is truly a representative of the pride and strength that embodies the afrobella. Did you all see the way she body slammed that stunt guy on the last season of fit club?? My hero! I have always been very curvy. But after the birth of my daughter (a whole 5 1/2 years ago) its been SUPER hard to keep my weight at a healthy size. There is nothing wrong with being a voluptuous, curvy, "thick" woman as long as you find that balance in eating right most of the time and being physically active. This is what I am working towards everyday and its always fantastic to see someone who has been where you are and is still working hard to maintain a HEALTHY not malnourished physique.
Jeanne says:
July 15, 2008, 4:48 pm
Thank you for introducing me to Toccara, a real gorgeous woman! I don't buy the magazines, so I only see the waif gals on the covers at the grocery store line. Why this beauty isn't on all the covers, I don't understand.
Danielle J says:
July 15, 2008, 4:51 pm
There's no one that I look to publicly. What I'm interested in is eating right and exercising 3 times a week. Everything else will appear and I will be more fit. I don't do scales because I concern myself with how my clothes fit. I keep something lively that I want to fit into hanging on my door as motivation. In my case, it's a size 10 chocolate brown leather skirt I want to wear this fall.
liz08 says:
July 15, 2008, 7:13 pm
Hey Afrobellas! This is my first post after reading this blog -which I am so incredibly thankful for- for about a year and a half. I struggle with my weight in relation to my ideals. I preach self love and acceptance on a daily basis, but when it comes to myself, it becomes hard to keep the nagging insecurities and negative self talk at bay. As a way to cheer me up, I sometimes think of Margaret Cho. I cant quote, but she basically says something like "Some women think they cant wear bikinis. I want to wear one on the beach with pride! I want everyone to see my belly and my cellulite and hips and realize that is what a real woman looks like!" Again, this is loosely paraphrased, but, even though I dont have the courage to do this, it makes me feel less alone. As does this blog:)
J. Diva says:
July 15, 2008, 7:57 pm
Ok, first let me say, the images all had me floored. They are some of the most beautiful women in the world. And to think CK wouldn't want those girls in his show, just shows that the crackishly thin -pale faced counterparts wouldn't know how to contain themselves if any of these women stole the show. As for Jennifer Hudson...the only thing I disagree with is her photoshopped figure for her new album cover. But the girl is a star! She deserves all of her awards...the girl works hard, and works it like a true diva! Now for fit see, although I've always had high metabolism, I can still say that this is pretty much how I've always been. But I will say I watched my cousin drop from a size 18 to a size 4 within a years time from these tips (which are the basis of the Weight Watchers program): - Eat lots of steamed and raw veggies. They don't count for anything but healthy calories and nutrients. -Eat lean meat. Baked chicken breasts, grilled salmon, the works...and stay away from pork. -the less sauce/dressing, the better. Try a little salt and Ms. Dash on your salad instead of the creamy stuff...saves you loads of fat calories while keeping your salad delicious. -Instead of eating a couple big meals a day, snack/eat smaller meals throughout the day. When your body is being constantly fed, your metabolism speeds up to keep up with the abundance of food. On the other hand, when you eat less meals, your body goes into something called "starve mode". Your metabolism slows to make the meals last longer, making you less hungry. [hint: thats how little people get away with eating so much] -Opt for a low/no fat candy (like twizzlers), or organic dark chocolate next time you get a sweet tooth. You can also go for fruit as well. Try to stay away from Milk and white chocolate because they contain high amounts fat from the milk used, compared to dark chocolate. - Last but not least, stay active! Nothing like burning off those extra calories...also, it makes you feel good, and keeps your body looking healthy, toned, not to mention a luminous healthy glow! Now I'm not a doctor, but again, my cousin will tell you the same thing. If she can do it, so can you. Good luck girlie!
Shell says:
July 15, 2008, 9:08 pm
Walking is the best exercise for me. I started walking again about three weeks ago. There is nothing better than walking out in the sunshine early in the morning. With walking there is nothing you need but your sneakers, music and yourself for at least 40 minutes.
Safera says:
July 16, 2008, 4:53 am
Toccara has always been stunning. I thought she was gorgeous from the word go. She has a bubbly personality that wins skeptics over. Good for her I bet almost no one thought she'd be the ANTM girl on top. As for JHud another beautiful woman who knew the talent she has and persevered. I'm so proud of both of them
Niki says:
July 16, 2008, 10:34 am
I'm trying to get into the mindframe that exercise/healthy eating is a "lifestyle" and not just a "diet plan". That is a hard shift for me to make and I am still trying to reconcile that. I get bored easily and get frustrated when I don't see a big change after dieting and working my butt off, so I am working on trying to appreciate the smaller changers (clothes fitting looser, not getting winded while walking up steep inclines, etc.). To give myself a bit of a "boost", I did the "Extreme Fat Smash Diet" by Dr. Ian Smith. from Celebrity Fit Club. I followed it to the letter and did cardio for an hour 5-6 days each week. I lost 10 lbs in the first week and then 5 more the second before I stalled. As soon as I got off the diet, I ballooned back up and put back on the 15 I lost, plus a few more! So I am working on trying to watch my portions, pay attention to what I eat, and move around more.
Starr says:
July 16, 2008, 11:24 am
I effing loooooove Toccara!!! I'm so glad she's repping for the thick sistas. She and I have a similar body type, even down to our fabulous melonicious tatas! I wonder where she gets her bras from.
Product Junkie Diva says:
July 16, 2008, 11:58 am
Jennifer Hudson looks great and I too enjoy that performance. She is such a powerful singer and I can't wait for that album.
dettygirl says:
July 16, 2008, 12:15 pm
Walking a mile every day + 50 situps (25 in the morning, 25 at night) has helped me alot. Plus it's easy. I also drink green tea (iced now since it's summer) to keep my metabolism up. Plus little things make a huge difference: giving up cheese on sandwiches, sodas, and french fries (even though I LOVE potatos- only have some once a week now) made a big difference in how i look and feel.
summer says:
July 16, 2008, 1:11 pm
I swear by (or any food diary/tracking site). When you truly realize how much you eat or just the amount of calories in what you eat, it's eye-opening.
Kei says:
July 16, 2008, 3:28 pm
Walking, walking, walking! I couldn't stress that enough. It's great for your heart and great to fet fit. I am very happy that Vogue Italia represented in a marvelous way! And any woman that has curves she be proud of her curves! It's always important to aim for a healthier size for health reasons, but once you do, if some curves are still there, embrace them! Thanks for sharing! Kei
CocoDiva says:
July 16, 2008, 4:41 pm
I am so glad that African American women are taking control of their health. I recently lost 40 pounds and am trying to lose like 20 more. We are so unaware of health risks that its crazy. We can still be beautiful thick sistas and be FIT!! Thick does not equate to healthy but will bring you heart disease, and diabetes. Check out my blog on relationships, health, and fitness. I am proud that Vouge has this black model issue. We are beautiful and the world needs to know! Great read!
[fung'ke] [blak] [chik] says:
July 16, 2008, 7:52 pm
My work out routine includes 5 miles a day of a walk/jog combination in the morning and then 5 miles of biking in the evening. It also allows me to clear my head from stress..etc..etc..
Jai says:
July 16, 2008, 10:33 pm
I look forward to picking up a copy of Vogue if I can find it in stores. I heard that I will be out in the U.S. on the 18th, not all bookstores will carry it and it may be expensive. As for J-Hud, that's one of my favorite performances and as far as her album cover supposedly being photoshopped, who knows. In her video(Spotlight) her waist looks pretty small to me. Just my opinion.
Jaimie says:
July 17, 2008, 4:32 pm
the one with the car is sooo feirce. Toccara is soo beautiful.
Jenn says:
July 17, 2008, 5:27 pm
Hi! Just wondering what the readership of your website is... Thanks!
Peajai says:
July 17, 2008, 5:33 pm
I love the DYT homegirl Toccara!!! I am still calling all around trying to get my copy of Vogue Italia...
Tiff says:
July 19, 2008, 5:49 pm
VOGUE ITALIA!!! where is this magazine. the only online store that sells it is ebay and its way too much! this magazine is not to be found where i live. the bookstores ONLY carry US Paris and Aussie VOGUE. Help!!!
flygyrl72 says:
July 22, 2008, 7:15 pm
I bought the Vogue Italia issue last Friday,(For those of you in the LA area looking for it, I got it at Barnes & Noble at the Grove) & I have to say, overall, not impressed. I mean, at least they tried, but the models all looked phony as hell. Like chocolate-dipped Barbie dolls. Dry.... And what is up w/ Naomi?! The weave just keeps getting longer & straighter & looking real real tired. The texture & length is just so unrealistic, it's starting to detract from her features. Beyond the all Black models theme, there was no ingenuity or originality in the making of this issue. Zero. The way they styled these women didn't include not one of my ideas of Black beauty. And you think that they woulda used at least one natural model. The only spread I liked at all was the one with Toccara. At least she's juicy, & curvy & was interesting to look at. The rest was BORING...they should've been letting Black fashion people work behind the scenes on this issue in regards to styling, shooting these models, doing their hair, etc. Then, maybe it would've had some real flavor... Thank God for Trace mag...
Pilot says:
August 22, 2008, 6:01 pm
Hello Bella, Greetings to you. I read your blog religously everyday(but never wrote in)and I always feel the message... Well, the reason I'm writing to you today is to get advice from you on starting a blog with my middle school students. Every year teachers are assigned an advisory group and we are expected to provide them with some form of enrichment. Because I read you daily and I receive so much inspiration, I thought my young "Bella's" would benefit from such a powerful medium. Any thoughts on how to start? Keep sharing the word. Peace


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