Mindy Kaling’s Elle Cover Controversy


A while back, Elle Magazine released a few different covers, each featuring  different celebrity: Mindy Kaling, Amy Poehler, Zooey Deschanel and Allison Williams. While the latter 3 ladies all got full-body shots and colorful covers, Mindy got a black and white shot of her face. Various sources and the public started calling the magazine ‘racist’ for giving Mindy a non-colorful cover and said that she was being discriminated against for not having a skinny Hollywood figure. More details from Us Weekly:

Apparently everyone except Mindy Kaling was upset by her Elle cover. The Mindy Project star appeared The Late Show with David Letterman Thursday, Jan. 9, and defended her new magazine photo against her so-called supporters.

“I was for the first time on the cover of a fashion magazine, which is such an awesome, nice thing,” Kaling, 34, told host David Letterman of the controversy. “I saw the cover . . . I thought I look so beautiful. I thought, ‘Wow, I’ve never looked better.’ I feel like I look like a movie star on it.”

Those feelings, however, were not shared by her fans and Elle magazine readers.

“There was a weird reaction which was, ‘Does Elle magazine think Mindy’s not skinny enough to show her whole body like standing up from head to toe?’” Kaling explained. “The sort of implication, what they kept saying was like, ‘What Elle, you can’t put her big fat body on the magazine? Why because she’s just fat and gruesome? Why shouldn’t we look at her beautiful fat body?’”

“And I was like, ‘Okay, people who are trying to defend me,’” the actress quipped. “I just feel like they’re kind of insulting me!”

Kaling was one of four women featured on the cover of Elle’s “Women in TV issue.” Her cover photo, however, was the only headshot rather than almost-full body image used. But the Office alum said she couldn’t be more pleased with how her cover turned out.

“It’s black and white. It looks like I died at my most beautiful,” she joked. “It looks like this is a dead person that they’re like, ‘How could we have taken her away at so young. If only a million dollars for another second with this . . .”


More of Mindy next!


450871349_10 450871467_10 462564569_10 462564671_10

elle1 elle2 elle4

39 thoughts on “Mindy Kaling’s Elle Cover Controversy”

  1. It does seem like an odd choice to choose one out of four covers to be the only close up and the only black and white. I wonder what their reasoning is.

    I’m subscribed to Elle and enjoy their magazine; especially their perfume samples heh. I would hate this to be a blatant act of racism; though i’m very aware of what is considered beautiful in America (all you have to do is look at the advertisements and who is in it!) and Mindy Kaling isn’t included in it.

    • Most racism these days is not blatant, but rather a series of micro-aggressions. It is racist that our standard of beauty describes White women, or women with ‘European’ features. The editors of vogue may not have done it maliciously, but because they subscribe to European standards of beauty, they may have decided that the black and white photo was the most flattering of the bunch she took. I guess what I’m trying to say is that people can perpetuate racism without being racist, if that makes sense.

      • Agree, but I would file this under blatant! The differences are drastic.

        I feel like if this was another woman of color who fit the American aesthetic of what’s attractive (thin, narrow nose, lighter skinned) her cover would resemble the other covers; somebody like Kerry Washington or Eva Longoria. But Mindy doesn’t fit that aesthetic because of her weight, features, and darker skin.

        • ” if this was another woman of color who fit the American aesthetic of what’s attractive (thin, narrow nose, lighter skinned)”
          There is indeed a double standard, women of color that don’t look too different from the Caucasian aesthetics have more chances to be accepted.

          • Definitely. We see women like Beyonce or Sofia Vergara make it big but we have to realize they both fit into a certain narrow aesthetic. I would love to see Lupita Nyong’o make the cover of People’s ‘Most Beautiful’; not that People is the beacon of American culture but it is a strong commentary of who we’re saying is beautiful. But i won’t hold my breath seeing as People has only put 3 women of color on the ‘Most Beautiful’ cover in the past 20 years (Beyonce, J.Lo, Halle Berry).

          • oh totally agree. Lupita is absolutely stunning and her sense of style is amazing as well. I would be ecstatic to see her on that list!

      • Everybody just doesn’t think Elle magazine didn’t do this on purpose, just to start controversy and sell more magazines?! Of course they did. It’s not racist; it is a publicity stunt. Media is their business. Elle knows exactly what they’re doing. Elle knows all of the conversations it’s going to start on the internet (the back and fourth arguments in the comments section); Facebook, here, Buzzfeed, Huffington Post. Elle knows all of the media coverage it’s going to get on Extra, the E Channel, and Access Hollywood and CNN (which is really sad, because there is no way this is real news). It’s ‘CLICK BAIT’, plain and simple, and everybody is playing right into it. Oh wait! I just commented on it. I’m playing right into it too. Damn it!

  2. Aww poor Mindy. How awful that people are saying that, and that she’s upset by it. The cover photo is so beautiful- I love b&w photos. What if the mag just used that cover because they were playing around with that photo and the b&w coloring is what happened to look best? yeesh. people can be so hypersensitive!

  3. I think it’s a beautiful cover and there’s nothing wrong with it by itself, but it IS strange that it is so different from the other three covers. I think four headshots would’ve been a better move. It is problematic and a bizarre design choice that you have one cover that is not cohesive with the rest of your “Women in TV” collection.

  4. I think all of them are beautiful and mindy does look great but it’s also so obvious when you put the four together that one is not the same at all. The three others are all very similar and then mindys is changed so much that it’s bound to cause contraversy

  5. I like really like her skin. I generally like b&w pics but it does not do her skin tone justice.
    Considering her figure, she is thin by my standards. She could have done the cover just like the other girls, who look stunning by the way (Poehler for the win!)

  6. Honestly, I think hers looks the best hands down. Everyone else is really trying too hard to look ‘come hither’ in their eyes and coy in their bodies, even Amy. And I’m usually team Zooey (I’ve been accused of being her doppelganger, so I’m biased), but that cover is ridiculous.
    Mindy’s cover looks glamorous and classy, even if it’s a result of micro-aggressive racism.

    • I agree, the funny thing is that no matter the intention Mindy’s cover is the best. The other three look good but so generic, nothing creative or artistic about it, just another Elle, Vogue, anyfashionmagazine cover. So I think Mindy wins two times, because in addition she herself is really happy with the picture!

      • For me it’s the deep v of that dresses neckline. I can’t stop looking at how great her decolletage looks. Think her face looks great too, there’s like a challenge in her eyes along with just looking pretty that makes her face look more compelling.

  7. Funny how Mindy herself thinks the cover is beautiful… Bet those who screamed “racism” the second this cover hit the newsstands are privileged white women from the middle-class.

  8. I think this cover is far more beautiful than the others! I love black and white photos though. To me this one just seems more unique and stands out more. It sort of has that timeless look to it. Just my opinion. To each their own

  9. Good for Mindy for taking the high road and reacting positively! She’s so funny.

    I do think it’s odd that out of all four magazine cover they pick the one non-white not-slender woman and change her cover… I mean, even if it doesn’t have anything racist behind it couldn’t the people in charge of Elle be smart enough to realize what it looks like they’re doing??

  10. I actually think Elle paid tribute to her in making her cover a bit different. There is a saying I heard recently in a movie.. it goes something like this.. “why are you trying so hard to fit in.. when you were clearly born to be extraordinaire… ” And I think that applies here. She is by far the most stunning. And by printing her in black and white, it blurs the identification of race/heritage. She looks ethnic.. she could be black, latino, Indian.. middle eastern.. turkish.. greek… etc… or a combination of all. I just don’t understand people who always jump to the negative conclusion. If it had been me? I would have felt greatly honored by the distinction… And, btw.. the cover is absolutely stunning! Her eyes are incredible! not to mention.. people are going to remember this cover because it was, like her.. extraordinarily beautiful…

  11. people are used to (body exposure/ sexual image/ temptation) in entertainment world, that if magazines portrait some celebs in non sexual way people get mad ! like what happened with melissa mccarthy “covered picture” on that magazine < it's like female celebs have to strip !!
    i just don't get it! especially among "singers", there are too much nudity < you are singer not a p— star.

  12. She’s gorgeous. I love her eyes and pretty face shape. I think the cover was beautiful, PERIOD. Not every face can handle such a close-up – and with no hiding behind the hair at that.

  13. I think she is beautiful personally. I love that blue dress on her. I can see both sides of the argument…I can see why people get up in arms about only her face being on…there again, who are they kidding, the skinny bodies on the covers are heavily airbrushed too. I can also see Mindy’s point…she was just looking at the cover and being proud of it, because it was almost like an achievement in her eyes…but everyone else was looking deeper than they had to and therefore insinuating things about her body.

    I just think she has a gorgeous face! No…I don’t mean that as a ‘her face is nice…pity about the body’ type comment because there is nothing wrong with her body, it’s really well shaped and proportioned and she is no where near fat. I just think she has an exceptionally strikingly beautiful face. Very sparkly, full of life eyes.

  14. Not doing a full body shot was VERY calculated and obviously it’s because she is not a ‘slim’ person…That being said, i think her cover being black and white is stunning.

    Doing the face shot instead of a full body cover, it is very obvious to see why they did it…but i don’t see the ‘racist’ element.

  15. I just don’t see it as racist. It’d be one thing if they photoshopped her Michael Jackson white, but they didn’t. I think it’s a cool cover. So what if it’s diff than the rest? It looks great.

  16. People are so PC about things nowadays. If Mindy doesn’t have a problem with her cover and she likes it then why should anyone else complain?

  17. hers stands out the most…and I don’t get how its racist and weight discriminating..which one is it? that confuses me..if they are upset about something pick one thing to be upset about…cover looks great im glad mindy was happy shes m girl

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.