The star and creator of The Mindy Project really was loving her Elle cover debut, but the instant scrutiny over the photo that was used (close-up on her face as opposed to a full-body shot, like the other three actresses featured on alternate covers of the "Women in TV" issue) only served to dampen the experience.
"So I was, for the first time in my career, on the cover of a fashion magazine, which is such an awesome, nice thing…It felt great!" she said Thursday night on Late Show With David Letterman as the audience applauded in agreement.
"I saw the cover, I don't know if you've seen it, but I thought, ‘I look so, like, beautiful,' and I thought, ‘Wow, I've never looked better. I feel like I look like a movie star on it!'" she added, though she also joked that it also looked like a gorgeous in memoriam shot.
"It's black and white, it looks like I died at my most beautiful," she cracked, brushing her hand over the picture as Dave held up the cover. "This is a dead person, they're like, ‘[She was] so young...If only a million dollars for another second with this.'"
And she feels that her so-called defenders might have been a little too defensive.
"I didn't expect this reaction," Kaling said of the controversy. "The shot is of me is like this [she framed her face with her hands], showing my face. There was a weird reaction, which was, ‘Does Elle magazine think Mindy's not skinny enough to show her whole body, standing up from head to toe?'"
"Oh, I thought [the cover] was nice, I guess," she continued, taking the ball and running with it, "but the implication was, ‘What, Elle, you can't put her big, fat body on the magazine? Why? 'Cause she's just fat and gruesome? Why can't we look at her beautiful fat body?'"
Surely Mindy's fans did not mean that, or at least they didn't think they meant it, but the Dartmouth-educated writer-actress' point of view does lend another angle to the issue: Does automatically complaining about Elle's treatment of her only serve to suggest that something's wrong with her body in the first place?
Once again, Mindy Kaling is the smartest girl in the room.
And it's true, no one paid any attention to what would automatically have been the focal point if, say, Miley Cyrus had been on the cover.
"Also, I'm not wearing a top, did you notice?" Kaling pointed out.