Let’s play One Of These Things Is Not Like The Other:
Mindy Kaling has finally scored her first major fashion magazine cover, posing in a stunning black-and-white portrait for Elle. The February 2014 glossy, Elle’s annual Women in TV issue, features four of television’s top stars, including Kaling, Zooey Deschanel, Amy Poehler and Allison Williams, all featured on their very own covers.
Before some of you “sensitive” folks accuse me of overreacting, let me show you what did NOT happen:
Elle Person One: We should probably crop Mindy a bit since she’s not as skinny as the other girls.
Elle Person Two: Right. And she’s Indian too, so we should probably make it black and white.
Elle Person: Right. Great meeting. Let’s go to Starbucks.
That didn’t happen. My problem is why didn’t THIS happen:
Elle Person One: Wait…cropping her sends a message that we only appreciate certain body types.
Elle Person Two: Right. And using a black and white portrait makes it seem as though we only want to promote Eurocentric standards of beauty.
Elle Person One: Right. Great meeting. Let’s go to Starbucks.
Why didn’t anybody notice how blatantly different Mindy’s cover is compared to the other three covers this month? Nobody at Elle noticed? Really? I noticed in 2 seconds. My black friends noticed immediately as well. Some randoms on the Internet took one look at her cover and gave immediate side eye, but nobody with clout at that magazine gave any pause whatsoever to giving the chubby colored girl a close-up black-and-white portrait while the skinny white women get full body covers in brilliant color?
And white people continue to wonder aloud why people of color still feel the need to build and promote spaces just for other people of color. It’s because whenever the powers that be do finally decide to pay attention to the colored children, we get the crumbs off the end piece of the loaf. Mindy Kaling got the cover of Elle and we’re supposed to cheer for her even though, intentionally or not, she’s clearly been treated differently from the white women whose covers are running at the same time.
Hip hip hooray indeed.
EDIT: A number of people have pointed out to me that Elle has a history of hiding the bodies of larger women, which I’m admittedly not as clued into. I’m a black man, not a woman of size, and I’m more apt to notice color discrimination than size discrimination. Check out this reblog with other covers featuring non-skinny women.