Last fall, there was a kerfuffle about Melissa McCarthy’s ELLE cover, if you remember. Melissa, who is pretty and awesome (as well as pretty awesome), was featured on the cover of ELLE in a bulky coat, with her hair teased up and half-covering her face. Many said ELLE was being sizeist, acting as if their readership couldn’t handle seeing a plus-sized woman in flattering clothes. I didn’t think there was that much to the “controversy” – it would have been nice to see Melissa in some great designer gown, but I actually liked the cover image.
Maybe the controversy led to a spike in newsstand sales or maybe ELLE is just trolling us all, because there’s a new, similar-sounding controversy. As I covered on Monday, ELLE has four covers for their February issue, with cover girls Allison Williams, Amy Poehler, Zooey Deschanel and Mindy Kaling. As many of you noted, Mindy’s cover is the only one in black & white (all of the white actresses got color covers) and Mindy’s cover image is the only headshot (the other actresses get to show off their figures). So, is this a racist and sizeist? Is this yet another example of “institutionalized inequality” in editorials, as Jezebel claims?
Three months after Melissa McCarthy’s covered-up look on the cover of Elle created “Jacket Gate,” the fashion magazine is under fire again, this time for how it’s featured comedienne Mindy Kaling on its “Women in TV Issue” cover.
The Mindy Project star, 34, is one of four women to cover the February 2014 issue, which also features Amy Poehler, Zooey Deschanel, and Allison Williams on separate covers.
The controversy over Kaling’s cover? The sole woman of color to be included, Kaling poses in a close-up, black-and-white shot versus the other three women’s full-color, almost-full body images.
Kaling is open about her size 8 figure on both, The Mindy Project, and in her memoir, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns). Critics are bashing the cover, saying the magazine purposefully hid Kaling’s fuller figure with a cropped shot.
But Elle released a statement to Us Weekly about Kaling’s image, defending its choice.
“Mindy looks sexy, beautiful and chic. We think it is a striking and sophisticated cover and are thrilled to celebrate her in our Women in TV Issue.”
Case closed? Eh. While it makes me uncomfortable that ELLE’s editors seemed to go out of their way to otherize Mindy’s cover, I’m still in a place where I’m side-eyeing the fact that Mindy has gotten so few magazine covers in the past two years. The Mindy Project is a hit show, and it’s also one of the best-written comedies on TV right now. Mindy is lovely, as is Chris Messina (he’s a total doll who steals every scene he’s in, quite honestly), but both Mindy and Chris have been shunned from all of the awards nominations (while Zooey Deschanel keeps getting nominated for subpar work). When was the last time Mindy was on the cover of ANY major magazine? If we’re really having a discussion about racism and sizeism in magazine editorials, let’s really have the conversation about Hollywood in general and how it sucks that it seems like everyone’s default position is to marginalize Mindy Kaling about EVERYTHING.
Now, that being said, Mindy doesn’t have a problem with ELLE. She took to Twitter yesterday to respond to the controversy:
Photos courtesy of WENN, ELLE.