By Naima Karp
The Elle cover that featured Mindy Kaling seemed like a sophisticated, blazered and chic version of Mindy – keyword version. When interviewed on Letterman about the photoshopping and lack of a full body shot, Kaling seemed cool about the whole thing. She even tweeted, regarding the cover: “I love my @ELLEmagazine cover, it made me feel glamorous & cool. And if anyone wants to see more of my body, go on thirteen dates with me.”
While I’m sure a lot of us would love see a glam-ified version of our usually casual selves, especially with a little extra cellulite snipped off with the friendly help of Photoshop, it’s a hard message to convey when Kaling is such a powerful role model for young women, in the way that funny women Amy Poehler and Kristin Wiig have been in recent years. In Kaling’s demographic, however, a community of Indian and other South Asian girls and young women is reached as well, making her curvier, less photo-friendly body a more attainable hero to look at and aspire to be, rather than the white, blond flagpoles that we see on covers of magazines like Elle and Vogue every day.
So, Mindy, I understand your happy and relatively indifferent reactions to the photoshopping, but having a slightly rounder, browner (not black and white) girl on a cover could be a little more life-changing to some than you might think.
Maybe not editorial-world changing, but that’s a slow journey to start, with photos of real women on the cover being a massive stepping stone. Dear Elle and other high-fashion mags that have banked on an image of exclusivity and flawlessness: we want more real woman, head-to-toe, without your romantic and contemporary black-and-white hues, whatever the intention may be.