It isn’t all that often that a plus size actress covers a mainstream fashion magazine so when it was announced that Melissa McCarthy would be appearing on one of five covers for Elle’s Women in Hollywood issue, it generated a lot of excitement.
But the cover’s unveiling turned out to be quite disappointing. McCarthy appears covered almost from head-to-toe in an oversized trench coat. Her body practically disappears with nary a curve in sight. On top of that, her hair is obscuring most of her face, leaving just the tiniest bit of her visible.
McCarthy works the look and the result is a beautiful cover. But next to fellow covergirls Reese Witherspoon and Shailene Woodley, who appear in a sexy dress and a one-piece swimsuit respectively, she looks like she’s about to take an arctic vacation. These styling choices make you wonder, did Elle choose this outfit on purpose to hide McCarthy’s body? It seems like they might have been trying to get the recognition for putting a plus size woman on the cover but were concerned about how people might react. Their solution was to bury her in fabric.
Elle responded to the criticism by saying, “On all of our shoots, our stylists work with the stars to choose pieces they feel good in, and this is no different: Melissa loved this look, and is gorgeous on our cover.”
It’s impossible to know what Elle’s intentions were by choosing to style McCarthy this way but what is the larger implication of their choice? Even if their intent was to celebrate a plus size woman, it doesn’t seem very empowering if she’s the only person appearing in the magazine that has her entire body covered. It seems to reinforce the idea that fat women can appear on the cover of a magazine, but only if they hide their bodies so they don’t offend anyone.