Publishers of the American edition of Elle have been accused of “Size Zero Racism” over a cover photograph featuring Indian-American comedian Mindy Kaling.
The fashion magazine published four new covers, each featuring TV actresses but while Zooey Deschanel, Amy Poehler and Allison Williams are shot in full colour and full frame, Kaling’s photo is a close up of her face and shoulders and in black and white.
A blogger for the feminist website Jezebel it represented “institutionalized inequality”, particularly as Kaling has famously gone on record as saying that she’s a “size 8” and is the lone woman of colour on the shoot.
Another blogger for the Guardian said that the black and white photograph was “even more unusual” given the unwritten rule that colour photographs tend to move more magazines, especially if they are fashion-related.
Kaling (born Vera Mindy Chokalingam) is the daughter of a Tamil father and a Bengali mother and has enjoyed huge success in the United States as a writer, producer and actress on a string of hit shows, including the US version of The Office.
The 34-year-old in 2012 became the first actor of South Asian origin to produce and star in a prime time TV show in the United States when her hospital comedy ‘The Mindy Show’ premiered on Fox.
One fashion industry insider was quoted as saying that her ethnicity, as such, would not have been the reason behind the closely cropped black-and-white image; rather the fact that Kaling, as a healthy size 8, was the exact opposite of the size 0 models who frequently grace fashion magazine covers.
Elle has responded to brewing Twitter complaints, saying: “Mindy looks sexy, beautiful and chic.
We think it is a striking and sophisticated cover and are thrilled to celebrate her in our women in TV issue.”
It’s not the first time a celebrity with a body that many would consider to be healthy and feminine has had her picture cropped.
In 2011, fashion writers said British Vogue had “missed an opportunity” when it featured singer Adele neck up only.