This week there was a big hullabaloo about Mindy Kaling’s Elle photos. Apparently because they cropped her photo and not the pics of Allison Williams, Amy Poehler, and Zoey Deschanel, it was a sexist slam to women everywhere. And since her photo was also in black and white, that’s racism – because apparently they were trying to hide the fact that she was Indian by putting her in black and white…somehow. I’m not really even sure how that works since people are almost in black and white anyway. If Mindy Kaling had blue skin, I could see where photographing her in black and white would accomplish something, but human beings are already actually pretty monochromatic.
The best part about the controversy was Kaling actually liked the photo, tweeting:
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.
So the picture must be okay then – since the person who was photographed liked it? WRONG, you sexist, racist, ignorant non-gender studies major! Don”t fret that you have no idea why you should be offended, you too can look enlightened on your facebook wall because Huffington Post has your outrage covered with their, “Here’s Why You Should Be Upset Over Mindy Kaling’s Elle Cover, Even If She Isn’t” article. The screed by Lauren Duca posts such gems as:
I’m not claiming that the Elle photo department sat rubbing their hands together and evil-laughing while plotting to make certain types of women feel crappy. But women of color are marginalized, just like curvy bodies are marginalized. Because these features are relegated to the periphery of pop culture, when a full-figured woman or a woman of color is chosen as a cover girl it is a big deal, because of the impact it has on those who feel confined by these often negatively stigmatized traits.
See everyone? We should be upset even though Kaling isn’t, because Lauren Duca, by all accounts a skinny white girl, knows that women of color and curvy bodied women are marginalized. See, it doesn’t matter that Mindy Kaling herself said this on David Letterman:
“The sort of implication, what they kept saying, was, ‘What, Elle, you can’t put her big, fat body on the magazine? Why, ’cause she’s just fat and gruesome? Why shouldn’t we look at her beautiful, fat body?’ And I was like, ‘Oookay, people who are trying to defend me.’ I just feel like they’re kind of insulting me,” she says, laughing.
Who cares that people like Duca actually offended Mindy Kaling? As an Indian girl, Kaling just doesn’t understand the racism being thrown at her. You have to rack up $120,000 of student loan debt at Vassar or the New School to truly understand bigotry. Kaling also doesn’t understand that it’s perfectly okay to call out one identifiable, real person for being fat, so long as the insult is in the name of promoting a culture loosely related to the imaginary fat acceptance movement.
The best part of this is that the author of the article, Lauren Duca, is not just a skinny white girl, but one whose Huffington Post picture is in black and white and cropped tiny – just like the photo she’s criticizing. Even if the image is just HuffPo formatting, the pic looks nothing like her twitter photo, which itself looks nothing like her based on her twitter cover photo.
At the end of the day, the article is saying it’s really important for us to bring out Mindy Kaling like a prized steer at the county fair, the camera prodding for any evidence of cellulite, ingrown hairs, or eczema. But it’s perfectly acceptable for the writer to post blurry filtered instragrams of herself with myspace duck face because she’s just a white girl (but one who, like, speaks on behalf of minorities – in the name of justice and page views).
Or maybe…the article is wrong, and real progress and equality would be to allow minorities and heavier women to highlight what they like about their bodies.