Hey, Elle, Stop Bleaching Your Cover Models [UPDATED]

First things first: Yesterday we were chosen by MyDaily UK as blog of the week! We’re so very flattered, but as I was basking in the glory I came across this disturbing post about how the very beautiful Indian actress Aishwarya Rai Bachchan (or Ash, as the Indian press calls her) is pissed at Elle Magazine.

You see, Ash didn’t take too kindly to the new racial identity provided by Elle India‘s photoshop team [my apologies, I initially wrote Elle UK]. And we have to agree. According to a Times of India source:

“Aishwarya’s first reaction was disbelief,” adding that Aishwarya “believed that these things don’t happen anymore. Not in this day and age when women are recognised for their merit, and not for the colour of their skin. She is currently verifying this skin-whitening allegation. If there is any proof of this, she might even take action.”

Good for her. It’s not the first time that Elle‘s come under the gun for skin-lightening: Last fall there was controversy over Gabby Sidibe’s markedly paler face on the cover. The magazine’s response to that was that nothing “out of the ordinary” was done. Are they kidding? I’ll buy that statement just as soon as a white cover model is turned ten shades darker, also known as when pigs fly.

Adding insult to injury of course, is the fact that—thanks to this kind of pressure—people all over the world still use skin lightening creams. Oh, and those happen to be super dangerous. Does this make you mad too?

Images via MyDaily UK and Jezebel

15 Responses to “Hey, Elle, Stop Bleaching Your Cover Models [UPDATED]”
  1. Hell yeah that makes me mad!
    What I don’t understand is that these women are perfectly beautiful, just the way they are!
    Whether it’s bleaching or fake tanning these mags are just adding insult to injury on an industry that already encourages us to change the colour of our skin to be more ‘beautiful’…

  2. meredith says:

    Appalling. Frankly, we expect from the Joe Zee and the team at Elle. These women are absolutely stunning in their own right, and in my opinion, do not benefit from the lightening at all. What are they thinking at Elle? Especially after the hoopla from last year. Disappointing to say the least.

  3. Genny says:

    It makes me really mad. But mostly sad. I thought we were done with this?

    I dislike how mainstream media does things like this that many many girls and women are exposed to, but all the COOLER, and real stuff (ie this blog) you need to search for.

  4. Heather says:

    Of course this is outrageous, but what I find particularly crazy is that Aishwarya is SO gorgeous in her real skin. I am myself slightly whiter than a sheet with blonde hair, and sometimes wish I looked more like her! Not to mention that real beauty is unique and authentic – not the empty cookie cutter ideal that she was made to more closely resemble for the cover.

  5. Sarah says:

    Okay. Sooooo not defending Elle here, and yes, all the skin lightening makes me CRAZY. I am white, but spent time in India – a great deal of it working at orphanages – and had many, many conversations with young girls who thought I was so much more beautiful because of my light skin when *HOLY BUCKETS* were these girls *GORGEOUS.* Heart breaking.
    That being said, in the case of Ash, between the lighting, the clothing, the background, and how fair she sometimes looks in other photos and movies, I don’t know that they lightened her that much. The whole image has clearly been photo-shopped to create that light “white and gold” aesthetic. Now, why they couldn’t have made her skin gold and not white in that photo, I will never know. Given their track record, there may be more there, but to be honest, I don’t know that I would freak out entirely over that particular cover.

    Just my thoughts.

  6. Alexandra says:

    @Sarah, I definitely had the same thought and it may be more of an overall effect of the photo/lighting. But I’d still venture that it’s a conscious move on somebody’s part to use that photo and then completely jack the exposure :)

  7. Eva says:

    That’s great that she has spoken up and is doing something!

  8. Lena says:

    FYI, assuming that her “friends” aren’t just making stuff up, Aishwarya is full of it. She used to use and was a model for a Loreal skin lightening cream, and only started to speak out against them when Loreal dropped her for another model.

  9. comagirl says:

    My God, I didn’t even realize that was her. Says a lot. She’s got to be one of the beautiful women I’ve ever seen; no need to tamper with that.

  10. J says:

    Has anyone considered that turning up the contrast is part of a general Photoshopping routine? Anyone who’s edited any photos to put online knows that turning up the contrast, while lightening the picture, does help hide flaws and can give a nice dramatic effect. They do it do Caucasian models as well. Just saying.

  11. Autumn says:

    >The magazine’s response to that was that nothing “out of the ordinary” was done. Are they kidding? <

    I actually think that in a really perverse way this is true. Not that lightening anyone's skin is "ordinary," but I think that people working with images all day long really lose sight of what we look at as consumers, or even as people. Images are so wildly manipulated that they probably did the same amount of work on this cover as on most other covers, all the while patting themselves on the back for "daring" to feature a large black woman. (I speak here of the industry and the magazine, not of the individual photo retouchers.) You make a couple of manipulations in Photoshop as you would for anyone–except on most cover models you're correcting redness and blotches, not someone's very heritage–and move on. It's this weird myopia in the industry and it winds up being blatant racism, but I also think they probably really believe they weren't doing anything out of the ordinary.

  12. Wendi says:

    I don’t know why anything Elle does shocks anyone. This is a magazine that photo shops women who are already a size 2 and regularly promotes fur (both in advertising and in editorial). I couldn’t stomach all the new fur “fashion” and refused to pick the magazine up again.

  13. Lore says:

    I am torn, I mean sometimes people would just look better if their skin was lighter. Sometimes people would look better if their skin was darker. You can’t say to the magazines – ‘stop using computers to change people’s skin color’ – when makeup and hair coloring and styling products are used to alter their looks already. There is no difference in using makeup, hair color, styling products, even padded bras – than lightening/darkening their skin color with computers. It’s ALL unnatural. To say that one kind of unnatural is alright but the other is not is hypocritical. The only reason people complain about it is because minorities don’t like it that lighter skin usually equals white.

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