Far be it from us to say what did or didn’t happen during Elle magazine’s October cover shoot with Gabourey Sidibe — we weren’t in the room, so we don’t know. All we can go on is what we and the rest of the world can see with our eyes.
And what we see is the difference between glamorous photo studio processing and real life photography — as we reported last week, Sidibe’s naturally dark skin looks a lot lighter on the cover. Elle’s editor in chief Roberta Myers has been particularly vocal about the shoot, during which she says nothing was done intentionally to make Sidibe’s skin lighter. She blames it on a folly of the flashbulb:
“People want to make something out of nothing. It’s sad the legitimate news media picks up on this. 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.
We absolutely did not lighten her skin. Retouching is when we take a piece of hair and move it out of her eye, so you can’t compare a picture on a press line from what you do in a studio, where your job is to make them look beautiful.”
Whether the magazine intended to or not — and we’re starting to believe they honestly didn’t mean it — Sidibe’s skin was lightened, and quite noticeably.
But defensive explanations are the reason this story isn’t going away. If Myers — or anyone at Elle — had said something along the lines of, “We regret that Sidibe’s skin was lightened during our October cover shoot. That was not our intention, and we understand and apologize for the implications of it. We here at Elle believe all women are beautiful regardless of size or skin color,” this story would have been dead a week ago.