By Arturo R. García
The good news: after getting sidelined for that infamous Vanity Fair cover, Oscar nominee Gabourey Sidibe is on one of the four covers of Elle this month.
The bad news: Looks like the magazine pulled a Beyonce on her.
There’s also the matter of the way Sidibe was shot compared to the women on the other three covers: unlike (clockwise) Megan Fox, Amanda Seyfried and Lauren Conrad, the image of Sidibe was cropped so that only her upper torso is visible.
Elle addressed the issue in a statement to Yahoo’s Shine blog Wednesday:
Nothing out of the ordinary was done. We have four separate covers this month and Gabby’s cover was not retouched any more or less than the others. We had 25 cover-worthy subjects in our portfolio and we chose Gabby because of who she is. We shot this as a story of exuberant young women changing the world. If you take a look at the portfolio, each of the women were shot in different ways and for different reasons.
Looking at the covers side-by-side, it’s hard to see any other reason for the shot selection but tone-deafness. But as noted on this site in the past, that’s hardly a new development, is it? Remember Michelle Obama’s cover and why it was a change of pace?
Even the few Vogue covers which have featured black celebrities have been heavily criticized by advocacy groups. Jennifer Hudson’s cover was decidedly unflattering, showing her mouth hanging open, while the Lebron James/Gisele Bündchen cover was widely derided as overtly racist, with its unmistakable allusion to a renowned World War I propaganda poster. Vogue could have picked a more elegant shot of the two, but instead chose to go with King Kong imagery, with James hunched in the great ape’s position, looking lethal.
At the time, Carmen Van Kerckhove asked if the Obama cover indicated some light at the end of the tunnel. Guess not.