Elle Responds to Sidibe Cover Controversy

For the fashion world, it's just business as usual.

By Jamilah King Sep 16, 2010

It’s been less than a week since controversy began looming over actress Gabourey Sidibe’s first fashion magazine cover. Sidibe appears on the cover of Elle’s 25th anniversary cover, and on top of being shot in a rather unflattering light, the actress’s skin appears much lighter than usual. And while allegations of skin lightening certainly aren’t new when it comes to black actresses in the fashion world, Elle editors insist that there’s nothing out of the ordinary about Sidibe’s cover.

Jennifer Romolini reported today for Yahoo News that the magazine responded with the following statement:

Nothing out of the ordinary was done. We have four separate covers this month and Gabby’s cover was not retouched any more or less than the others. We had 25 cover-worthy subjects in our portfolio and we chose Gabby because of who she is. We shot this as a story of exuberant young women changing the world. If you take a look at the portfolio, each of the women were shot in different ways and for different reasons.

Romolini points out that while the other actresses, who include Amanda Seyfried, Megan Fox and reality star Lauren Conrad, were all graced the issue with full body shots, Sidibe’s is cropped mid-chest.

Geneva S. Thomas at Clutch Magazine rekindles the debate over Essence’s recent hiring of a white woman to argue that the whole fiasco is just another reason why black fashion editors are so necessary in an industry that’s trying hard to appeal to women of color.

The fashion industry is seemingly damned if they do, or damned if they don’t. We don’t want to come off ungrateful; we’d be the very ones complaining or dishing critical commentary on why no Black actresses are making glossy covers. We just ask one simple thing: always have an expert, weave/wig/Black hair specializing stylist on the set. Black women’s hair is sort of a serious matter.

For us, the proof is on the page. But we’ll let you be the judge.