Yesterday, Elle released their February “Women In Television” issue, complete with four covers featuring Mindy Kaling, Amy Poehler, Allison Williams, and Zooey Deschanel. The Internet (including me) was quick to notice that the covers had a curious issue: while Poehler, Williams, and Deschanel were shot with about 75% of their bodies visible and in full color, Kaling’s photo was cropped to only show her face, and was black and white. It’s Melissa McCarthy all over again, and just like that time around, Elle responded to the criticism with a fairly tone deaf example of missing the point.
E! News ran the following statement from Elle‘s PR spin team:
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.
Good job, Elle! You completely missed the point. Of course she looks “sexy, beautiful, and chic.” You could put Kaling in a trash bag full of dead animals and she’d still look beautiful, because she’s extremely photogenic and gorgeous. Nobody’s accusing Elle of, God forbid, putting an ugly girl on the cover. The issue is that Elle treated Kaling differently from the other actresses, and I’m unable to believe that it’s unintentional.
At some point in the next few days, Kaling will probably publicly voice her support and say something along the lines of “I picked the photo,” because she has to do exactly that if she wants to land any future covers. When Melissa McCarthy made her “I picked the coat” comment, maybe she was telling the truth. Or, more likely, the comment was part of a PR plan to minimize the damage. And that’s the key issue here: women who don’t fit the very narrow, conventional mold get treated differently, and then they have to thank the magazines, TV shows, and media outlets for paying attention.
Kaling looks stunning. I think her’s is the best cover of all of the set, and it’s frustrating that this is even an issue, when we could be talking about Kaling’s talent. But Elle keeps implicitly telling us how they feel about women who aren’t model thin or white (this isn’t the first time), and then the slighted actresses have to defend Elle for doing so. How is this okay?