Gabourey Sidibé’s Elle Cover Stirs Up Controversy

It looks like Elle is stirring up a bit of controversy regarding October’s 25th anniversary issue. The magazine chose four celebs — Gabourey Sidibé, Megan Fox, Amanda Seyfried and Lauren Conrad — to grace their own individual covers.

According to the mag, these women were chosen because they are “changing the world.” To that we say: really? As much as we love her, we can think of a fair amount of other young women who are doing far more to change the world than Lauren Conrad. But we digress. The real controversy in question, sadly, revolves around not one but two aspects of Sidibé’s cover.

First, there’s the issue of cropping. While the other three (very slim) cover models are shown in near-full body shots from about the thigh up, Sidibé’s picture is cropped tightly, revealing little more than her face and chest. Not to mention the fact that Fox, Seyfried and Conrad reveal quite a bit of skin between the three of them — bare shoulders, bare legs and some décolletage. Sidibé? Not so much. It wouldn’t seem like such an obvious singling out had the other three covers not been cropped identically, but alas, Sidibé is the only one who gets the close-up treatment.

The other issue is perhaps an even touchier one. Some believe Elle significantly lightened Sidibé’s skin during the retouching process. While side-by-side comparisons of red carpet pictures and the cover do show a disparity, the other cover models look pretty washed out too, perhaps more of a product of intense studio lighting than post-production retouching.

A side-by-side:

Elle EIC Robbie Myers made this point when she spoke with E! News:

It sort of boils down to this: at a photo shoot, in a studio, that is a fashion shoot, that’s glamorous, the lighting is different. The photography is different than a red carpet shot from a paparazzi.

Regardless of how the lightening effect occurred, the difference in tone is visible and Elle felt the need to issue this statement: “We have four separate covers this month and Gabby’s cover was not retouched any more or less than the others.” The bottom line is that it’s unfortunate that Sidibé’s first major cover is getting attention for all of the wrong reasons.

What do you think? Were these cover tweaks intentional or coincidental?

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