We were thrilled to see that the amazing Mindy Kaling graces ELLE's annual "Women in TV" issue, but that's where our excitement ends. The cover photo is a black-and-white headshot of our favorite funny lady — with her self-proclaimed size 8 curves nowhere in sight.
Each year, ELLE highlights the best and buzziest women in television. The issue (on stands Jan. 14) features four covers, each with a different female celeb. Kaling's fellow cover stars include Zooey Deschanel, Amy Poehler, and Allison Williams, who all flaunt their bodies in designer clothes. Williams strikes a pose in a strapless, clingy Anthony Vaccarello jersey dress; Poehler flashes her cleavage and legs in a black, fitted satin jacket and leggings; and Deschanel juts her hip in an embroidered net Valentino dress. Make no mistake: Kaling's photo is gorgeous — the comedian and actress wears a wool-blend jacket from Theory by Olivier Theyskens and drips with diamond accessories — but many of Kaling's fans aren't impressed with the styling direction.
Yahoo Shine could not reach an ELLE representative for comment, and there's no telling whether the fact that Kaling's photo was the only one that was cropped is just a coincidence. But the creative direction is curious, given ELLE's murky history when it comes to showcasing fuller-figured women. In October, the publication triggered a national firestorm when it released the November "Women in Hollywood" issue featuring plus-size actress Melissa McCarthy, awkwardly wrapped in a blue Marina Rinaldi coat on the cover. For the issue, the magazine showcased multiple covers, starring barely-dressed celebrities Reese Witherspoon, Marion Cotillard, Shailene Wodley, and Penelope Cruz. With the exception of Cruz (who had recently given birth), McCarthy was the only star who was covered up. And although McCarthy's reps insisted back then that the actress "loved the cover" and "even picked out the coat," fans called the creative direction "lazy" and proof that "stylists don't want to work with a plus-size body."
Back in 2010, for a four-cover issue celebrating notable 20-somethings, ELLE featured African-American actress Gabourey Sidibe but hid her curves with a photo that ended mid-chest (There were also reports that the magazine lightened Sidibe's skin, although ELLE denied doing so). Meanwhile, fellow cover stars Amanda Seyfried, Megan Fox, and Lauren Conrad pouted in form-fitting couture. Sidibe didn't comment on her cover, but the magazine vaguely told Yahoo Shine at the time: "Each of the women were shot in different ways and for different reasons."
According to Brooklyn-based plus-size fashion stylist Stefany Allen, this latest cover was definitely a miss. "Mindy's photo is truly stunning, but it's lackluster compared to the other women's covers," Allen tells Yahoo Shine. "Curvier women are definitely having their moment, and this could have been an opportunity to show how sexy diverse bodies are. If ELLE won't take a chance on a woman without model proportions, who will?" Even stranger, says Allen, Kaling appears to be wearing a pantsuit — a look known for its slimming effect. "The photo is also in black-and-white, which neutralizes Mindy's skin tone and it's difficult to know what color her jacket is," she adds.
Considering that Kaling has shared her own body image woes — in 2012 she told Us magazine that she would love "to lose 15 pounds and exercise five to seven times a week," we wonder the funny lady feels about her fashion debut.