Gabourey Sidibe's Elle Cover Sparks Controversy Over Skin Lightening

Elle is taking heat for their October issue over claims that the mag lightened cover girl Gabourey Sidibe's skin. Here's the criticism: "Sidibe’s skin is noticeably lighter than usual. Elle clearly couldn’t handle Sidibe’s real skin color, and traded away her actual color for something dramatically lighter," Julianne Hing wrote in ColorLines, an online magazine that tackles issues around racism and social justice. Elle swiftly denied the accusations. "We absolutely did not lighten her skin," Elle's EIC Robbie Myers told E! last night at the Oscar de la Renta show. "It's not a controversy."
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Leah Chernikoff
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Elle is taking heat for their October issue over claims that the mag lightened cover girl Gabourey Sidibe's skin. Here's the criticism: "Sidibe’s skin is noticeably lighter than usual. Elle clearly couldn’t handle Sidibe’s real skin color, and traded away her actual color for something dramatically lighter," Julianne Hing wrote in ColorLines, an online magazine that tackles issues around racism and social justice. Elle swiftly denied the accusations. "We absolutely did not lighten her skin," Elle's EIC Robbie Myers told E! last night at the Oscar de la Renta show. "It's not a controversy."
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Elle is taking heat for their October issue over claims that the mag lightened cover girl Gabourey Sidibe's skin.

Here's the criticism: "Sidibe’s skin is noticeably lighter than usual. Elle clearly couldn’t handle Sidibe’s real skin color, and traded away her actual color for something dramatically lighter," Julianne Hing wrote in ColorLines, an online magazine that tackles issues around racism and social justice.

Elle swiftly denied the accusations.

"We absolutely did not lighten her skin," Elle's EIC Robbie Myers told E! last night at the Oscar de la Renta show. "It's not a controversy." Myers went on to explain the difference between studio photography and a red carpet snap: "At a photo shoot, in a studio, that is a fashion shoot, that's glamorous, the lighting is different. The photography is different than a red carpet shot from a paparazzi."

The magazine also issued a statement which reads: "“We have four separate covers this month and Gabby's cover was not retouched any more or less than the others. We had 25 cover-worthy subjects in our portfolio and we chose Gabby because of who she is. We shot this as a story of exuberant young women changing the world. If you take a look at the portfolio, each of the women were shot in different ways and for different reasons."

It's Sidibe's first major cover, and she's one of four celebrities around the age of 25 that Elle chose to put on the cover to celebrate their 25th anniversary. Megan Fox, Amanda Seyfried, and Lauren Conrad also grace the cover.

But Sidibe's cover girl co-stars were shot differently for their covers. While the plus-size Sidibe is cropped at the chest for her close-up cover, Fox, Sefriend and Conrad are all photographed from the knees-up. Critics are also crying foul over the cropping, faulting Elle for representing the Precious-star differently on account of her plus-size figure.

What's your take? Is this "not a controversy," as Myers said, or do the critics have a leg to stand on?