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Friday January 17, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Friday January 17, 2014 MYT 8:17:37 AM
by emine saner
Contentious cover: 'Elle' came under fire for their black-and-white, closely cropped cover of Mindy Kaling.
Elle magazine is under fire for four new covers, three depicting white American TV stars full length and in colour
– and one of Mindy Kaling close-up and in black and white. What was it thinking?
YOU rarely have to look far to find something to criticise in the fashion industry, and the latest storm concerns four new covers of US Elle, each featuring an American TV star.
But while Zooey Deschanel, Amy Poehler and Allison Williams are shot three-quarter length in full colour, Mindy Kaling’s cover is cropped in close and printed in black and white.
Guess which actor gets the odd-one-out treatment, asked the feminist site Jezebel: “If your answer was ‘probably the woman who’s on the record saying she’s a size eight, not a size zero, and also happens to be the lone woman of colour,’ then congratulations! You get a cookie ... which is unfortunately flavoured with bitterness and institutionalised inequality.”
Elle has responded to brewing Twitter complaints, saying: “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.”
Kaling has also declared she loves the cover, tweeting: “It made me feel glamourous & cool.
“And if anyone wants to see more of my body, go on 13 dates with me.”
Still, the fact that Kaling’s image was presented differently stands out.
This is far from the first time a fashion magazine has been criticised for cropping a star who isn’t supermodel size.
When British Vogue shot the singer Adele for its cover in 2011, neck up only, fashion writer Melanie Rickey called it a “missed opportunity, when there are so many Vogue-reading women who would love to see how the magazine and its stylists would deal with beautiful Adele’s voluptuous figure”.
When Gabby Sidibe appeared
on US Elle’s cover in 2010, she was the only one of four different actors to be close-cropped, and questions were raised about whether the magazine had lightened her skin – something Elle denied.
The fact that Kaling’s cover image was printed in black and white is even more unusual.
An unwritten rule of magazine journalism is that only colour images will be likely to sell.
Though black and white cover images certainly exist, they tend to be reserved for specialist subscribers’ covers rather for newsstands.
So what’s going on?
One British women’s magazine editor, who asked not to be named, speculates that Elle’s publishers might have felt free to experiment with black and white because “with split covers (where there are several cover options), you’re not relying on one cover to sell your whole magazine, so you can be more experimental and take a risk”.
How likely is it that Kaling’s race affected this decision, as so many have suggested?
If we were talking about the UK, rather than US, market, she says “that question would be more pertinent”, admitting that there is a shameful belief, in the UK, that putting a woman of colour on the front of a magazine means lower sales: “Though I don’t think that’s the case in the US.”
As for the crop, she says: “Close-cropped covers do sell well, and
if you’re doing four covers, you don’t want them all to look the same.
“You’ll crop an image in and
out and see which has the most power on the newsstand. I think
it really is sometimes what happens to be the nicest image and what works the best with coverlines.”
“Vogue had Victoria Beckham on the cover and they did a close crop – and you can’t get thinner than her,” she adds.
Small comfort, perhaps. – Guardian News & Media
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Lifestyle, Women, Mindy Kaling, US Elle, magazine, cover, Jezebel, feminist, close-cropped, black and white
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