Guest Blogger: Marcela Melara

There’s something wrong with this picture…

I had meant to write about this for some time. The reason why I say this is because I noticed a picture that was quite disturbing to me (to say the least) about 6 weeks ago, and I don’t think it’s gotten the attention it deserves… The photo I’m talking about is the front cover of this Ocotber’s edition of Elle magazine featuring Gabourey Sidibe:

Quite a lovely picture, and it’s nice to see that Elle magazine also decided to feature a heavier-built woman who also happens to be a woman of color. Just looking at this magazine cover, the image seems fine. But that’s not how I came about seeing this picture for the first time. Instead, I saw a far more shocking image (some of you may have seen it already, and I remember we touched on it for a little bit in our WMST 100 class):

Yes, it’s the exact same woman.

Who is Elle magazine to lighten up anybody’s skin? I have no idea what the picture editors were thinking when they did this, but I find it to be insulting and even immoral. This magazine cover is one of four 25th anniversary editions Elle magazine is issuing this year, and the other three cover-girls have nothing in common with Gabby Sidibe in terms of appearance and physiognomy. Here is an image showing all four magazine covers:

The other three women are clearly white and slender, so Gabby Sidibe just doesn’t quite fit in the way she is… “Well, we can’t change her weight on the picture, but we could make her skin fairer so it is slightly more in accordance to the other covers.” Is that what Elle magazine was thinking? And I’m sure many people will try to argue that maybe the lighting for Gabby Sidibe’s photo shoot was different, but the discrepancy between both pictures is just too large…

It bothers me that this picture modification hasn’t really made the news like other social issues have recently. There are still racial issues going on in this country and I feel like many people consider this to be a problem of the past. Well, it’s not, or else Gabby Sidibe’s skin wouldn’t have been lightened in the above picture. And another thing… notice how they abbreviated her name to a more English-sounding name; suddenly Gabourey becomes Gabby.

Just as a comparison, here is a comparison of Elle magazine’s cover with Ebony magazine’s cover also featuring Gabby Sidibe:

Elle magazine just wanted to be more inclusive, I guess.

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31 thoughts on “Guest Blogger: Marcela Melara

  1. Tracey McCarthy says:

    What about the way they removed her double chin and literally cut a third of her body out of the picture? That’s just as outrageous–especially in combination with lightening her skin. I guess Gabourey is just too much woman for them.

  2. brokenimage16 says:

    We’ve discussed this in class already and you know I’m pretty much in agreeance with you. (And did they have to give her such an unfortunate wig?)

    One thing I’ll comment on is how you noted the shortening of her name to Gabby. I don’t think it was to make it more English-sounding, but rather to make her more relatable. If she were a friend we may call her Gabby like we sometimes call a Katherine Katie. The “nickname” of a celebrity taps into the Discourse around the figured world of celebrity and how accessible they are now. Celebrities are very much “ours” thanks to the media. We’re allowed to judge their decisions. We know so much about them it’s almost like we know them. So the shortening of her name was a very strategic choice by Elle to make her less of celebrity and more of a friend. it’s like in the magazines when we see the section, “Stars. they’re Just Like Us.” Remember during the election when we had to read how Michele Obama shops at J Crew and Target? Or now that Thanksgiving is coming up, be on the lookout for how many celebs are asked what they’ll be doing/cooking. The dubbing of Gabby was just a way to make her more of “ours.” I know that’s sick but that’s what our culture has become.

  3. Katie Smith says:

    I found this post to be very interesting, and I have to wonder, do you think that Gabourey may have had any say in how she was represented on the cover? From what I know about this particular actress, she is very proud of who she is. However, this would not be the first time that a curvaceous African American woman has opted to appear more “white.” For an example, look at some of the members of Destiny’s Child, particularly Beyonce. Beyonce has had her hair lightened, straightened, and in many pictures her skin tone is much lighter than it was in the days of DC. There are some other examples (Michael Jackson anyone?) where we have seen this. So, I have to wonder if this was her choice at all of solely the work of the magazine. It is unfortunate that some African American “cover-girls” feel as though they need to be more “white,” in order to be taken more seriously. If anything, I feel as though it would make people take them less seriously since it would seem as though they are not confident in themselves.

  4. Amanda Monyak says:

    Wow, thanks for bringing my attention to this–I had no idea Elle did this, although it’s not surprising. It’s also unfortunate that they show bodies of the thin women in all of the other Elle anniversary editions, but definitely not for someone who’s overweight. We’ve still got a long road ahead of us.

  5. Jillian McCarthy says:

    I find it a little strange that, while they cut out most of Sidibe’s body, having an extreme close-up makes her appear almost comically larger, which makes me wonder what exactly Elle was getting at in picturing her as such. The wig is also interesting; while they give Sidibe white-looking hair, it is very evidently a wig (or an exceptionally bad blowout) and is fuzzy and unnatural looking. Were they trying to make her look beautiful? I think she looked a hell of a lot better in the pictures where her skin was its real color. The color is richer; adding white removes both the richness of the tone and the richness of the differences between Sidibe and your average cover girl.

    In an anthropology class that I took, we had a discussion about how the dominant culture brings in influences from the outside to help the dominant culture create new ideas, art, etc. However, in the process the outside influences are weakened, so that they better conform to the dominant culture. This picture is an example of this phenomenon; Elle magazine pictures a 1) black 2) curvy woman on the cover, giving the magazine a unique look for the month. However, as Tracey mentioned, Sidibe was a little too much woman for Elle, so they lightened her skin and cut out any ” less desirable” parts of her body.

  6. Tom Michaud says:

    Looking at this contrast between these pictures reminds me of when you get a new tv and you’re trying to adjust the settings just he way you like ’em. Its like there is too dark, which doesn’t let you see things, and there is really washed out. This is exactly what seeing these to covers side by side makes me think of. In the public eye (or should i say the publisher’s eye) this girl is too dark for their audience so it will make it so they won’t relate to her as easy and they might be more hesitant to read the article or buy the magazine. So they lighten her picture in photoshop and get it just dark enough so she’s not white, but its not too dark either. They need to edit their cover girls just to relate to their audience; it’s so pathetic. That racism like that still happens proves that our country is still so entangled in it. You will never be able to eliminate it, because people believe to strongly about it; it’s like religion.

    It also reminds me about those Pond’s skin cream ads in intro women’s studies. It showed how this Indian girl used this cream to lighten her skin, like it bleached her or something like that. And then she gets the guy at the end because she’s light skinned enough for his taste. Yay!!!!! Not. Why should a woman feel like she needs to change her physical appearance just to please a man? The thought just makes me sick. Everyone is an individual and they should be treated with respect. Sure, some people might not be your “type” but that doesn’t mean they should change who they are as a person. So I guess i just see these magazine covers with Gabby on them and it makes me realize that even here in America we also require this whitening of everything.

  7. Isaias says:

    I whole-heartedly agree with you guys the magazine completely changed her. From changing her name to making her teeth whiter. In my last blog post on the SPARK video I touched on a similar topic. The media wants us to view people in a certain way and will do ANYTHING if their power to succeed. By ELLE magazine cutting most her double chin off and making her skin look a couple shades lighters shows us that Gabbourey was not good enough to make the cover on her own looks. As a result, they changed her appearance from top to bottom. This shows us that the magazine wants gabby to be lighter and a little thinner. In my other blog post i said we need to accept people no matter who they are, where they are from, or how he or she looks. The media makes people think they are supposed to look like the people who are on television. Although it would be nice to be on TV we need to accept that everyone is different.

    If the magazine can change someone that much I wonder if half of the celebrities look as good as the media portrays them to be.

  8. Michael Rivera says:

    This is not the first time I have seen women or men changed in a photo for a magazine or any other publishing. Before I get upset with ELLE, I think of the people posing for these photos. Are they okay with the change? do they not mind these magazine companies changing the way they look? their identity? Why not sue the magazine company? why alloow them to continue to change the way you look, as if to say you not good enough? Who is at fault here the celeb or the magazine company?

  9. Becky says:

    This reminds me of every debate I have seen over airbrushing and slenderizing in magazines. Concealing a certain attribute on a person gracing a cover or page in a magazine confuses me to no end. We see day to day imagines of celebrities in tabloid magazines and then we look to fashion magazines and see a completely different looking celebrity. It is a stupid and unnecessary act to purposefully conceal and edit photographs when we know very well what these celebrities generally look like..

    It sends a horrible message to people, especially young people, that the ultimate look to be achieved is that of the airbrushed star on the cover of a mag, that in reality doesn’t even look like that. And it is sad because not every human has the ability to realize that this notion of beauty is solely for the purpose of viewing. We don’t go out in the world and imagine ourselves as flawless creatures. The beauty of humanity is in the imperfection and differences in each individual.

  10. Gabrielle Perez says:

    This pisses me off.

    I agree with Jillian’s point about Gabourey’s hair- in the Elle photo it looks so fake for her to be rocking a hair do like that. In a society where people seem more open about identity issues, Elle Magazine sure has a great way of showing support for race. Brightening her skin and putting a wig on her doesn’t change who she is; this just goes to show how much our society plays into this idea of “normalcy”— that people must conform to the norm of society in order to be considered a part of the in group or even to have a place in society as a whole. Just reading one of the headlines it says “Get the Elle Look” — what does that mean? What kind of look is this magazine portraying? The fact that we must be up to date on all the latest fashion tips or else we won’t be a part of the everchanging society we live in.

    I do applaud Elle for having a person of color on their 25th Anniversary issue. At least something is fair.

  11. JoJo Ragon says:

    To piggy-back off of Isaias, I have always wondered about celebrities who are of the minority and are super stars. If you take a look at the skin color of Alicia Keys, Rhianna, Beyonce, and Nicki Minaj, there should be the same sort of look that jumps out at you. They are all lightly skinned in terms of their race. There are slim to none celebrities of color who are globally infamous and have a very dark skin color (that aren’t male).
    Gender is also another interesting aspect. If you think about actors such as Denzel Washington or Will Smith, they are darker to me than Halle Barry or Jada Pinkett Smith. In addition, if you google image any of these actors or actresses, you will notice that the skin color of the females change from picture to picture. Why?
    There is institutionally White privilege in the media no matter where you go from movies to music. I actually have thought that watching BET and imagining a television world that where all the channels were like it, how I would feel watching and not feeling represented. Its an interesting “experiment” I guess. Maybe that can help those who are White to think about a sliver of what minorities feel on a daily basis. Of course, it is second nature, but that’s good ol’ White privilege for ya. This is not said to make anyone feel guilty, but understanding cultural, social, and historical foundations will only make power structures more clear 😉

  12. Alex Cragg says:

    My uncle is the chief creative officer for Talbots and over the summer I visited him in NYC and he brought me to see his office. There were tons of pictures hanging up of models and celebrities who had posed for Talbots but he pointed one particular picture out to me. It was of model Linda Evangelista who was posing for Talbots holiday 2010 collection. He told me that she showed up to the photoshoot looking a little fatter than they would have liked. After the shoot, Linda went up to the the computer where the pictures were bring photoshopped and instructed the photographer to get rid of the rest of her “double chin” and to make her hips a little thinner than he had already made them. And the best part is, SHE’S WEARING A COAT IN THE PICTURE. You can hardly see her body as it is and she wanted to shave more of it off. Every magazine cover is photoshopped and it doesn’t matter who the target audience is or what it’s advertising. A lot of magazines that advertise being comfortable and happy with your body photoshop their models. I do believe what they did to Gabby’s photo was racist but sadly, this doesn’t surprise me. I would expect nothing less from our media.

  13. Morgan Gibeault says:

    Before I started taking a women’s studies class I would have had no opinion on this cover. It just would not have looked strange to me. But now realizing how much the media really does portray our actors, singers, and athletes I am in shock. This women is colored, plus sized, but still beautiful. In the magazines eyes you are not beautiful unless you are slender and white. Well at least that is the idea that they are giving us. Someone above was wondering if she had any say on how she was portrayed on the cover. It would be really interesting to find out. Most women like to flaunt there ethnicity, where they are from, and who they are. With that said I doubt that this women had any say in the pictures that were chosen, and probably didn’t have any idea that they were going to alter them that much. But if it sells why not? Right? Magazines and T.V ads are made to sell, and if this is what it takes to sell them they are going to do it. It makes since though. People love picking up magazines with pretty skinny girls because they inspire to be exactly like them, but in reality there is no way that most girls can do that. Putting this plus sized women on the cover of a magazine is a major step in the right direction, but will it ever be complete? When will these magazines realize that plus sized is beautiful too?

  14. Allison says:

    I think it is shocking to see how much airbrushing and photoshopping can do to a picture, and how this affects our understanding of the image. Before reading this post, I probably would not have noticed that there was something wrong with the picture; however, now I am very aware. It is horrible that magazines feel the need to lighten someone’s skin because they are on the front cover. Clearly we all know what she looks like and she is already famous, so lightening her skin isn’t going to make us love her or hate her.
    I also wonder what she saw when she was exposed to the cover of ELLE, and if she gave them the permission to do this or if it was a surprise. I also think it’s interesting that all of the other stars had full body shots, and hers was limited to just her face. I think it is great that ELLE is trying to diversify their covergirls, but they need to be fair about it.

  15. Ashlinn Barber says:

    Elle magazine attempted to diversify their image. While the magazine attempted to go against social norms, they in fact conformed to these norms. There are more issues than the fact that her skin is lightened, or that her body is touched up. The issue rests on the fact that such practices were even invented. Why do magazines feel the need to “touch up” their images? By doing so, the media is simply creating an idealize version of what a person should look like. In addition, by creating a “fake” image of what a celebrity looks like, the media is creating unrealistic role models for children. A major issue rests on the fact that children are taught that images in magazines such as Elle are figures that should be idolized. The culture behind celebrities has created pressure from the media to keep celebrity status above an a realistic status. While Elle is attempting to show diversity in their image, the magazine is actually conforming to the social norms that society has made of celebrities.

  16. Ryan Waffle says:

    I do have an issues with some statements and comments, though. Asserting that Elle magazine decided to call her Gabby instead of Gabourey to make her name more English and therefore “white” sounding is absurd. A little research would tell you that she prefers people to call her Gabby, much like people would call someone Katie or Jen.
    But honestly, this doesn’t really surprise me that much. Airbrushing of people on magazine covers has been going on for a long time, with or without consent of the person. However, the issue at hand is usually the weight of the person, not their skin color. I would really like to know her opinion on the doctoring of this photo.
    Overall, its shocking and ridiculous that Elle Magazine would go to such great lengths to lighten the skin of Gabby and to show only a portion of her to hide her size from the viewer. The magazine is supposed to celebrate the beauty of all women, but they did a pretty good job of showing that they really only want to celebrate the beauty of the ones who would fit on the cover.

  17. Amaury Ramirez says:

    Ouch.

    I really appreciate that you are pointing this out. It is so obvious now, but I didn’t see it before. It is amusing, for lack of a better word, how being white is what is seemed to be attractive. But as we all know, people get tans to get some color in their skin. It’s sort of contradictory. But whatever, what truly bothers me is that the models have photographs of their entire bodies while Gabby’s is pretty much covered. I love how the ebony magazine shows her figure, even though she is a bigger girl. The difference between both magazines is derived from race.

    Black women embrace being bigger, its actually something women love being plus sized. It’s interesting how the two races are so far apart in terms of what is attractive. Most models have flat chests and are very small, but from experience I love women that are thicker and look like they eat breakfast, lunch and dinner. As a society, we have created this ridiculous idea that being skinny is the attractive way of being while being fat is the unattractive way. Being attractive or not is completely subjective and can varies from individual to individual.

  18. Dan Dechert says:

    I have come to expect this type of behavior from the magazine industry, but this is to not say that it is the right thing to do. The fact is that changing the skin-tone of someone to be more “marketable” or whatever it may be is not only unfair to that person but sends the wrong message to the millions of women who will inevitably see this magazine cover and formulate their opinions of self-image because of it. What’s also clear from this magazine cover is that her visage has been greatly altered to basically make her less obese looking, thus more desirable in the eyes of the Elle editors. My problem with this is that by changing pictures of men or women (but especially women) you create an unrealistic and unhealthy expectation of what people in our society are supposed to look like; basically telling us what is beautiful, and if you don’t fit that mold than apparently you are not. Our society places enough stress on everyone, specifically young people, so the last thing they need is false images of unrealistic beauties to feel bad about themselves with. I wonder if these women give permission to have their pictures altered, or if the editors do so on their own. Either way it is sending the wrong message and it is ethically wrong to cover up the flaws that make us individuals; the flaws that separate us from people and perfect, unachievable mannequins that find themselves in these magazines.

  19. Salvador Forte says:

    This does not just happen to celebrities! I have an African American friend who is part of a fraternity. Every year the fraternity takes a composite photo with all of the brothers’ portraits. One year, his portrait on the composite seemed very light. The photo company had enhanced his portrait by lightening his skin color. I am not sure if he had paid the company to make any adjustments, such as air brushing blemishes, but I am pretty sure lightening skin color was not an option. Either way, he was extremely upset, but he never brought it up. His friends made a joke of it, and did not really think anything of it. It also didn’t help that he was the only black person in his fraternity.
    I understand what magazines companies are going for, even though I am completely against it. I am baffled for the reasons why a company would lighten the skin color of my friend’s portrait. This is not going out to the public. They are not trying to make a statement or set the latest fashion trends. I am pretty sure that they also did not have the permission to enhance the photo in any way.

  20. Eliss Manon says:

    As I looked around at different blogs, this particular one caught my attention! Why is it that Gabourey Sidibe looks A LOT lighter in the front cover of ELLE magazine then she does in the picture next to it? Or why is her picture (compared to the other three featuring covers) of just her face? Beats me, but this really makes you think about it. It made me realize how the media really does affect society’s “image” today. They have this image of what women “should” look like to be “beautiful”; which is light skinned, lighter hair color, and slim. None of which Gabourey Sidibe is. She is a black big woman with dark hair and who’s to say she is not beautiful? The fact that they lighten her skin tone completely (not even a little bit) and only show not even half of her, makes you wonder if they have something against dark and big people. This is very sad to know that such a very well known pop magazine will do something like this, for whatever reason it was, they have no right to change the way someone looks. On the other hand Ebony magazine also featured Gabourey Sidibe on their front cover and let me just add she looks way more beautiful and natural on their cover. Not only did they show the real HER and her beauty but they show her full body and put her full name in big letters something Elle failed to do (since they shorten it to Gabby). So yeah maybe Elle magazine was trying to go by “society’s image” by making all these changes but I’m pretty sure they did it intentionally and it defiantly does not make it right.

  21. Karen Romero says:

    I previously heard about this issue a while ago, but never paid much mind to it. I believe part of the reason why I didn’t pay closer attention is because I had not seen the actual pictures or the comparison between the airbrushed Elle magazine cover and actual pictures of Gabourey Sidibe. After seeing these pictures I was amazed at how much they changed Gabourey. They lightened her skin, made her slimmer, and gave her full long hair. The reason for these changes seem to be because the editor’s wanted Gabourey to appear more “white” and fit what society calls beauty. I can appreciate that Elle wanted to add diversity to its magazine by putting a black woman on the cover and this woman being of a bigger size than the majority of women on magazine covers, but they defeated the purpose once they made all these changes. This proves that some people behind women’s magazines are still with the stereotype that a beautiful woman has to be slim and of fairer skin. Although it is disappointing that our society thinks this way, it is not surprising. If one looks at advertisements and the media, the image of skinny beautiful women is repetitive. It is not right for women who do not fit the stereotypical image of beauty to be made to feel any less beautiful.

  22. Ali Schreiber says:

    THIS IS SICK. I literally could not believe my eyes when I first saw this blog post. However I will admit before scrolling down the page, I only saw the first cover of the magazine and was like “wow, she looks really pretty!” and that is exactly what Elle magazine wants us to think. Beauty sells in our generation. It is very unfortunate, but it is the truth. So who created the negative stigma that goes along with words like curvy, large, fat, etc. and decided that they were incapable of selling? I am not really sure how to answer my own question that I propound, however I don’t think this stereotype will break free any time soon. Although, back in Marilynn Monroe’s era she was a size fourteen! Not many people know that today in our society, however most people consider her to be one of the most beautiful human beings alive along with the sexiest.

    Hollywood has still been promoting Marilynn Monroe even after her death. For example take Megan Fox’s tattoo. She dons a full head tattoo of Marilynn Monroe on her inner forearm. She must admire her in order to get that tattoo. So I wonder if they inspire to be so much like Marilynn Monroe, then why would she agree to pose on the cover of Elle and promote something that she is not and be photoshopped to the extreme. I am going to make the assumptions that back when Marilynn Monroe was alive, photoshop did not exist and what you saw was what you got. I believe that is an admirable quality and that should be presented more in our society.

  23. Tyler Garvey says:

    This sort of manipulation seems very common in our mainstream media, which makes it all the more appaling. The media forces their perception of what beauty and sexiness are down our throats, and millions of impressionable kids and teens are the victims. Its unhealthy, its wrong and its disrespectful. Not only is Elle promoting an unnatural idolization of beauty, but they are also insulting Gabourey in a pretty racist way. How is it acceptable that Elle displays that they think lighter skin is more attractive than darker skin? And why do all of the slender white girls get full body shots while Gabourey has a zoom of her face because she is heavy? This is ridiculous.

  24. carlagaynor2 says:

    This idea of photoshopping and body image is definitely a huge topic of discussion. Personally, when I first saw the picture, without reading the text, I thought of how pretty she looked on the magazine cover. Now I am just shocked. Why photoshop someone to make them look different than they truly are?

    Body image is a national concern that is raised frequently. Knowing this, how can one justify the difference between these two pictures? Also, the manipulation of Gabourey’s skin tone is completely unethical. Although this could be said about changing someone’s body to fit a certain image as well. I honestly cannot believe Elle magazine even got away with this without any time of large scale controversy.

    As seen in the more recent post about Barbie, body image is raising more and more of a concern. Girls read these magazines and have a totally skewed view. They play with Barbies and think this is normal. It is not and should not be portrayed as normal. So, at first, when I saw someone on the cover of this magazine that is not stick thin, I was pleasantly surprised. When I read further in to this however, this feeling disappeared. Elle magazine still altered Gabourey’s image, in a way that could potentially raise more question. Ethically this is not right and should not be deemed perfectly alright.

  25. Wes Traub says:

    I was pleased when I saw the first magazine cover. However, once I scrolled down and saw the darker-skinned picture I was appalled at how inconsiderate and subtly racist the American media is today. In economics class we are learning about all the different types of discrimination that exist in our markets. Employer, employee, consumer, and statistical discrimination are all painful byproducts of our capitalist society. This particular case of Elle Magazine artificially brightening Gabby Sidibe’s skin color is a prime example of employer discrimination.

    Although Elle magazine is definitely to blame here, I point the finger more at the entire network of magazines and other forms of media in our society today. Yes, you could say that the executives at Elle are prejudice, and I would agree with that.

    BUT, the racist pricks at Elle only printed this cover because they concluded it would sell better than a darker-skinned Gabby Sidibe. American consumers need to embrace ethnic diversity instead of shun it. More importantly, ALL magazines and other forms of media need to stop shoving this “perfect” image of skinny, caucasian females down the throats of american consumers.

  26. WOW! At first I thought this post was going to be about how Elle put an African American woman on their front cover for maybe the first time. BUT REALLY?! I am shocked that Elle would change the actually color of someones race on their cover. Elle is primarily a fashion magazine. Gabby Sidibe’s skin color has nothing to do with fashion… I can see how Elle puts primarily skinny woman on the cover because it is a fashion magazine and models are skinny but to lighten up Sidibe’s skin is unacceptable and wrong. We all know that the celebrities in these magazines really don’t look like that in person. But the ways they look in magazines make us think we can look perfect. Magazines like Seventeen try to focus around the natural seventeen girl that’s in high school. However, touch-ups and editing is still used and these seventeen year old girls do not have flawless skin!!! Magazines should use editing less to portray what American’s actually look like.

    I believe it’s a prettier image.

  27. dana Nachbar says:

    Holy guacamole! that’s absolutely absurd in my opinion. I cannot believe they lightened her skin, that’s immoral and racist in a sense. I do find the magazine cover to be quite random on account of the past covers were of thin, white celebrity models. I’m glad Elle magazine took a step outside of their box and found a different looking model, I just wish they didn’t alter her appearance to fit the correct “Elle” portrayal that they want all their models to exert. Personally, I never really enjoyed that magazine, I actually prefer teen people, self, cosmo, and shape magazine. These magazines are the layouts for what we believe pop culture is and how we should act, feel, dress, and do in certain circumstances.

  28. Stephanie Haddad says:

    This is just so incredibly sad. I mean, what will Gabourey Sidibe think when she looks at this magazine and notices her skin color is about 2 times lighter than usual? It’s not like the lighting in the studio where the photo was taken could have changed her skin tone to be about 5 shades lighter. I’m sorry Elle magazine, but you need to stop messing around with the photographs to fit your description of beauty. Kudos to stepping out of your comfort zone and using a heavier woman of color, but altering many aspects of her appearance? REALLY? Jerks…
    What is happening to our view of beauty and why does Elle magazine feel the need to not only lighten her skin tone but also crop out HALF of her body???? This is sad and disturbing. I thought this generation was past racism, but I guess that was a far-fetched assumption on my part. We still have yet to overcome that, especially when we have magazines formulating ideas in the general public’s minds of what the “accepted” weight and skin tone should be in our culture.

  29. Liz Douglass says:

    By featuring Gabby Sidibe on the cover of their magazine, Elle magazine was going against the stereotypical cover girl by displaying a heavier set woman. This is always nice to see, as most magazine covers display girls with the ‘perfect’ body. Yet, they ruined this refreshing cover by lightening Sidibe’s skin. On the cover of Ebony magazine, Gabby’s skin is significantly darker, and there is no way lighting could have made the drastic change on the cover of Elle. I am shocked that any company or person would think it is moral to change the color of someone’s skin.
    To me, this is feeding into racist ideas. By lightening Sidibe’s skin, Elle seems to be saying dark skin is a flaw. I thought that racism was ancient, but this magazine proves its abundancy. Why else would they find it necessary to do so? If I were Sidibe, I would be highly offended by this adjustment. By doing this, Elle was insinuating that her skin color was not supported by their magazine or its readers. Thus, they were being racist.
    The magazine also changed her name from ‘Gabourey’ to a more English-sounding name ‘Gabby’. These changes tell me something about the integrity of this magazine, and possibly the integrity of people around the world. Why does Elle find it necessary to make someone more white in order to appeal to its viewers? There is clearly reasoning behind this. It is amazing what a simple magazine cover can bring to our attention.

  30. Ariel Trent says:

    Ariel Trent
    I understand that society is less racist and prejudice than it was in the past, but I still feel that some of those discriminations linger on today and no one really notices them. I believe this blog post “There’s something wrong with this picture…,” by Marcela Melara shows this ideal very well. Black Americans in general are really trying to embrace themselves as a whole and are trying to learn to accept themselves for who they are and how god made them, however by lightening up a picture, not showing her entire body, and changing the name of a person to a more “ appropriate name “ kind of diminishes their confidence.
    In my opinion, there was no point in lightening the image. Were the editors of Ellie magazine trying to make her seem more “white “by lightening her skin complexion? Were the editors trying to make her seem more suitable for the magazine by changing her name to “Gabby?” Lightening her complexion was wrong in my eyes, especially because this magazine rarely places black people on the cover, so when they do they should depict the person as they are. I do understand that they edit pictures to make the person look pleasanter, but usually that deals with blemishes and imperfections. Gabourey is a dark skin female and she looks nothing like her natural skin complexion in the Ellie magazine.
    The main aspect of this image that bothered me was changing her name to Gabby. For one, I feel like they felt her name was too “ghetto,” meaning a name for a typical black person from the hood. Gabourey’s name is long and unusual, but it is unique and that should be reason why Ellie magazine should have displayed her Full name on the cover rather than a nickname, even if it’s more relatable to the audience that is reading it. The reason for putting someone on the cover of a magazine is to give them their time to shine and editing them, cutting parts of the models body out and changing their name to a nickname doesn’t do that.
    Magazines in general speak to the public, and people will gradually believe that this is how things should be; if someone’s over weight then that person should be cropped to look more “suitable” for the publication or because they are of a darker skin tone then they should be edited to a lighter skin tone. In my opinion, society already thinks this way. I find this really disturbing and sad that Ellie magazine could not have presented her with her natural skin color, her body and her name. If they are not going to depict her as she is then why use her for their cover? Is it because they want to attract a new audience, however still conserve their image?

  31. Ami says:

    When I see pictures like the one Elle magazine put of Sidibe. it makes me angry because that pictures says more than any words put together. As a African American, I am tall, dark skinned, Heavy and very big bone structure than my peers. Every where I go i can see the questioning looks on people face and that gets me mad, because it is assume that I can fix up my self to be like everyone else, When it is just the way I was born.. People can try to lighten a skin as much as they want, but it will never be the same. Society needs to accept that we are not all the same in skin or shape and frankly we will never me. We need to stop criticizes how people look and criticizes what kind of stupid stereotype we put on each other.
    What kind of world will this be if every person looked the same?
    if anything I rather be different.

    Magazine are trying to tell us the meaning of beauty when they don’t understand beauty themselves. The media is just another disappointment in our society.
    Not everyone is going accept my comment, but at least I accept myself.

    Another thing about society is changing people’s name, why did they change Gabourey to Gabby? did she ask them to? is there something wrong with her name? I think is a beautiful name, it roots of place is even more interesting.
    Just because it is not an American name does not mean we should degrade it if anything we should be more interested in finding out it place.

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