Here's the deal with Mindy Kaling's cover of Elle, one of the four varietals of the mag's latest "Women in Hollywood" issue. The fact that people are talking about it is a good thing. The reasons behind it, I would wager, are where it gets a little more complicated.
There's been a lot of hubbub (yeah I'm making hubbub happen again) over why Kaling's photograph is the only one in b & w, not to mention the only close-up shot. To any remotely mindful person comparing the four covers, one of these things is not like the others. Exactly why it differs has more to do with people's preconceived notions on race and gender politics than anything Elle or Kaling has explicitly said or done.
There is the opinion that Kaling's cover is black and white because she is Indian, and her skin is darker than the other three women. There is the thought that she has a close-up shot because she is not a size two. While I guess these philosophies are valid, I think the outrage behind them has more to do with how we, as women, feel about portrayals of body image in the media than how Kaling was actually treated and portrayed during her experience.
No matter how she feels about it, or how gorgeous she is, there's still this messy implication that because she is different than the other three women, she is essentially less than, and that's got to be the reason why her cover differs. Kaling herself mentions that the implication of some people's outrage is that they did not show her body because her differences somehow make her "fat" or "gross" or "unappealing" -- non-glamorous traits that sneaky magazine editors must have been trying to cover up.
I see the reason behind some people's complaints, but I also know Mindy is a gorgeous, talented, glamorous woman. I think we need to examine the conclusions we jump to regarding the people behind these controversies, and how our logic on the matter says more about our own standards of beauty than anything else.