Is Elle magazine guilty of orchestrating a fashion cover-up?
The monthly fashion magazine is drawing criticism for its portrayal of November cover girl Melissa McCarthy, who fronts the annual “Women in Hollywood” issue. While alternate covers of the issue feature Reese Witherspoon in a bodycon Versace cut-out dress and Shailene Woodley in a bathing suit and sneakers, McCarthy is bundled up in a figure-concealing coat, a look that some say is pure sizeism.
“This year, Elle‘s token plus-size cover girl is McCarthy, who was photographed in a Marina Rinaldi coat so huge that she could hide her Mike and Molly co-star Billy Gardel underneath,” wrote June Thomas of Slate. “McCarthy’s hair covers a quarter of her gorgeous face, and with her hands stuffed deep into her coat pockets, the only visible flesh is a tiny triangle between the coat’s lapels and the briefest glimpse of calf. Perhaps photographer Thomas Whiteside only knows how to photograph the usual stick insect models, because he clearly has no clue how to highlight McCarthy’s curves.”
This isn’t the first time the 43-year-old actress’s appearance has sparked controversy.
In his review of the movie Identity Thief last June, critic Rex Reed described McCarthy using words like “hippo” and “tractor-sized,” declaring her to be “a gimmick comedian who has devoted her short career to being obese and obnoxious with equal success.” In an interview with The New York Times, the comedienne said her reaction to Reed’s disparaging comments was a mix of disbelief — “Why would someone O.K. that?” – pity for the film critic — “I felt really bad for someone who is swimming in so much hate.” – and concern for her two daughters and other girls growing up in “a strange epidemic of body image and body dysmorphia.”
In response to current criticism over obscuring McCarthy’s body on the November cover, Elle issued a statement, which read:
“On all of our shoots, our stylists work with the stars to choose pieces they feel good in, and this is no different: Melissa loved this look, and is gorgeous on our cover. We are thrilled to honor her as one of our Women in Hollywood this year.”
The magazine was accused of showing a disdain for plus size women in 2010, when Gabourey Sidibe, Megan Fox, Lauren Conrad, and Amanda Seyfried appeared on separate covers of the 25th anniversary issue. Fox, Conrad and Seyfried were featured in full-length photos, but Sidibe’s image was framed as a head-and-shoulders shot. (It’s worth noting that, in addition to McCarthy, Witherspoon, and Woodley, Penelope Cruz also appears on a cover of the 2013 “Women in Hollywood” issue, which features a close-up of the actress’ face.)
“Trying to find stuff that’s still fashion-forward in my size is damn near impossible,” McCarthy told The Hollywood Reporter in 2011. “It’s either for like a 98-year-old woman or a 14-year-old hooker, and there is nothing in the middle.” Last fall, the Bridesmaids star said her plus-size clothing line was still in the works, but little progress had been made because of her busy shooting schedule.
What do you think of Melissa McCarthy’s Elle cover? Head down to the comments to sound off.