Last week, we noticed Bollywood star and former Miss World Aishwarya Rai was looking a little lighter than usual on the cover of ELLE India’s 14th Anniversary Issue. The story has since been covered by StyleList, The Daily Mail, and MTV Desi — among a myriad of others. But while it’s not uncommon for blogs to speak up about post-production editing — and skin-lightening in particular — it’s not often one hears from the victim themselves.
While Rai hasn’t released a statement, several Indian publications and newspapers report that she isn’t happy with the cover and may in fact sue. A source told the Times of India:
“Aishwarya’s first reaction was disbelief. She believed that these things don’t happen anymore. Not in this day and age when women are recognized for their merit, and not for the colour of their skin. She is currently verifying this skin-whitening allegation. If there is any proof of this, she might even take action.”
Rai is naturally quite fair and, as a commenter on our original post pointed out, Rai’s skin tone changes depending on her sun exposure. But taking into account even the fairest undoctored (i.e., event) images of Rai we can find, the ELLE cover is significantly lighter. It may well have just been the lighting of the shoot, but it’s still somewhat frustrating that an art director or photographer wouldn’t take that into account and photograph Rai in a manner that is true to her beauty.
Finally, while there’s no word directly from Rai, it would be the first time legal action was taken against a mainstream international magazine for post-production editing. Which begs the question: why? Most savvy agents tend to make sure there’s a “final approval” clause in cover contracts — is it because the stars themselves are complicit in the editing or because they don’t want to stir the pot?
What do you think about Rai’s cover? Is it much ado about nothing? Or should ELLE India be held responsible?