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Elle Seems To Have Also Lightened Gabourey Sidibe's Skin

Illustration for article titled emElle/em Seems To Have Also Lightened Gabourey Sidibes Skin

When we discussed Gabourey Sidibe's Elle cover last week, we focused on her terrible wig. But some readers and commenters noticed something else amiss: Her skin tone.

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According to the Telegraph, the magazine claims, in a statement, that "nothing out of the ordinary" had been done to the photograph. And:

We have four separate covers this month and Gabby's cover was not retouched any more or less than the others.

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But it's fairly obvious, when you see the Elle cover next to an unretouched red carpet photo, that Gabby's skin is completely different. So if nothing "out of the ordinary" was done, then is it the usual standard practice to lighten up dark skin? And are all the other ladies' skin tones waaaay off?

Consider this: There are four different covers of the October issue, and Gabby is the only person whose body isn't shown. When you add that offense to the wig and the skin lightening, one is forced to assume that the staff at the magazine is so used to having thin, white women on the cover that they don't know how to handle a dark-skinned, full-figured person.

Black women face enormous pressure when it comes to skin and hair. We're led to believe that lighter skin is better and straight hair is "good" hair. And if Sidibe can't land the cover of a mainstream magazine just the way she is , it only compounds the problem and illustrates the sad fact that in society's eyes, there's something "wrong" with her — and, by extension, anyone who doesn't have light skin and straight hair. Lighter is better, that's the message. It's great that Gabourey Sidibe landed the cover of Elle. It's just unfortunate that she doesn't look like herself.


Illustration for article titled emElle/em Seems To Have Also Lightened Gabourey Sidibes Skin
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The Quarterbacks: Our Favorite 25-Somethings [Elle]
Elle Responds To Sidibe Cover Controversy [Colorlines]
Elle Magazine In Gabourey Sidibe Skin Lightening Controversy [Telegraph]

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DISCUSSION

I thought it was just a consequence of really poorly chosen lighting. Which was probably done intentionally to lighten her skin, so still problematic, of course. You can see the effect in her hair, too, though. All of her is washed out, as though she's under a really bright spotlight. It was just yet another in a series of crappy choices that were either intended to make her look more "white" or done unintentionally because some staffers have no idea how to deal with any hair or skin tone that isn't white. Neither of which is acceptable. Also strange? How close up they felt they had to get. As though showing her body (like they did with the women on the other covers) was just not okay. It's crap, basically.