Gabourey Sidibe's 'Elle' Cover Gets More Bad Press Than Good

Kim Conte
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gabby elleThe inclusion of Gabourey Sidibe as one of four actresses on the cover of Elle's 25th Anniversary issue was supposed to be a positive step for diversity acceptance in the mainstream media -- proof that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes.

So why are so many writers being buzz kills about it?

The Oscar-nominated Precious star was chosen -- along with Megan Fox, Lauren Conrad, and Amanda Seyfried -- to celebrate notable women in their 20s. But check out these reviews of the cover that seem to be the opposite of celebratory:

At Salon.com, Mary Elizabeth Williams argues that something about Sidibe's cover is just not right -- specifically that her inclusion "feels like a weird fetishization that borders on patronizing." She explains:

It's hard to feel like busting out the champagne when Elle's other "game changing" women of a certain age are much more traditional glamourpusses.

(To be honest, I agree with the last part. Why group an Oscar nominee with the likes of women like Conrad and Fox, who are certainly star-worthy and entertaining -- but in a different way?)

Moreover, Julianne Hing writing for Color Lines draws attention to the fact that Sidibe's cover is cropped differently than the other three:

By cropping Sidibe's cover photo so close, Elle may have been trying to hide her full-figured body -- its own travesty -- but they only made her seem bigger. Sidibe doesn't get the standard female cover photo treatment: three-quarters of the woman's body centered with strong margins of white space on either side of the woman. She gets a uniquely awkward cropped shot.

Womanist Musings questions whether Sidibe's skin was Photoshopped to look lighter for the Elle (because she looks much darker on the Ebony cover).

And, Clutch Magazine criticizes her "old used up brillo pad" weave:

Here we have yet another reason among a trillion why Black fashion, beauty, and creative directors are necessary. Clearly Elle dropped the cue ...  
It's all fine and good to pat ourselves on the back for accepting a gorgeous, talented, fat black woman on the cover of a fashion magazine. But these dissenting voices remind us of how much further we still have to go.

What do you think of Gabby Sidibe's Elle cover?

 

Image via Splashnews.com


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