Update: Kaling released a statement in support of the cover over Twitter:
I love my @ELLEmagazine cover. It made me feel glamorous & cool. And if anyone wants to see more of my body, go on thirteen dates with me.
— Mindy Kaling (@mindykaling) January 7, 2014
Take a look at Mindy Kaling’s Elle magazine cover. She looks amazing, right? Her hair and skin are flawless. But when you compare Kaling’s cover with Elle’s other three covers for its Women in TV issue, that old “Sesame Street” song “One of These Things Is Not Like The Other” comes to mind.
While Amy Poehler, Allison Willliams, and Zooey Deschanel, are all afforded full-body, full-color shots, Kaling’s cover is a close up photograph done in black and white. Which wouldn’t be too strange, except that she’s the only woman of color, and the only woman who;s admittedly not super-tiny.
“Since I am not model-skinny, but also not super-fat and fabulously owning my hugeness, I fall into that nebulous, “Normal American Woman Size” that legions of fashion stylists detest,” she said in a 2011 NPR interview. “For the record, I’m a size 8 (this week, anyway). Many stylists hate that size because, I think, to them, I lack the self-discipline to be an aesthetic, or the sassy, confidence to be a total fatty hedonist. They’re like ‘Pick a lane.'”
We can’t deny that the shot looks great, but it seems in poor choice to make Kaling’s cover so singularly different than the others. Whether intentionally or not, Elle‘s decision has the effect of other-ing Kaling—expressly separating her off from these other white, size 2 actresses.
Given the magazine’s previous controversy around its Melissa McCarthy cover, we can’t imagine they’d be totally clueless about how their cover choice would be perceived, which makes it all the more surprising that they’d choose a close-up shot for Kaling. And that they make her cover black and white, effectively stripping her of her ethnicity.
Of course, perhaps Kaling had a hand in choosing the image. Maybe this is the image that she wanted. In which case, we totally understand: It’s a gorgeous photograph. But if not, we think Elle has some explaining to do.
What’s your take on Elle’s cover choices?