When I found out that Academy Award nominated actress Gabourey Sidibe was going to be on the cover of ELLE magazine, I was elated. Here was a sister with meat on her bones sporting unperfect perfection. Gabby would be gracing the coveted cover of a fashion magazine that is usually held for underweight waifs with little substance. Despite what you may have heard (or been force fed by the media), Gabby is fierce. Baby, she is a thick snack with a confidence unseen in women like her. I thought, “ELLE magazine is all good with me!”. But that was before I saw the cover of ELLE.
I first saw the cover online and was shocked and appalled. WHO is this chick? Certainly, it isn’t the chocolicious lovely young woman we first came to love in the movie ‘Precious’. Not only did the cover not doing her justice (bad hair, subpar pose, awful crop job) but her skin was most un-luminous and shaded three to four shades lighter than her actual skin tone.
Now I am not an expert when it comes to photography and lightening, but I do know during the photography process, angles, lighting, and other tricks can be used to slim a face, contour, and yes, make someone look lighter. We would be hard pressed to find any celebrity that has been photographed for a cover that hasn’t been altered in some kind of way for “creative” purposes. But when does it go too far?
Gabourey’s skin has been lightened in a way that is distasteful and downright wrong on this ELLE cover. So much so that it tinges or borders on racism. Is having a chocolate fabulous sister on the cover too much for ELLE readers?
And we cannot just discuss ELLE without discussing other magazines who are guilty of this practice. Airbrushing is one thing but ‘whitewashing’ or ‘lightening’ the skin tone in such a degree that it looks like a Porcelana ad (Porcelana is a skin cream which lightens skin) is another. Sophisticates Black Hair Care Guide is another publication that is guilty of airbrushing and over lightening skin of the celebs that grace the cover. I often do a double or triple take at the cover because the stars are unrecognizable. Just as I hold ELLE responsible for this egregious error, I have to also fault Sophisticates Black Hair Care Guide for overdoing the use of “artistic integrity”.
I will no longer buy ELLE magazine until they issue a complete apology to Gabourey and to their readers and to the Black community. And presently, ELLE is not backing down from their stance.
“We absolutely did not lighten her skin,” Elle’s EIC Robbie Myers told E! last night at the Oscar de la Renta show. “It’s not a controversy.”
What is your take on Gabby’s ELLE cover?
Below is a photo comparison of Gabby. Decide for yourself:
Photo credit: PopEater