Rebel Wilson never thought she’d be the type of girl to be doing fashion shoots. The comedienne appears on the cover of Elle Australia’s April issue wearing a hot pink Marina Rinaldi coat layered over a Peter Pan collared shirt with pearl embellishment by Roaman. Despite her disbelief, Wilson appears gorgeous and fierce, rocking a statement red lip and a perfectly tousled bright blonde hair. But while the 29-year-old—who says she learned her modeling skills, like smizing, from watching Tyra Banks on American’s Next Top Model—looks beautiful, she’s been given the “plus-size cover treatment,” an unfortunate malady plaguing magazines around the world.
It seems that whenever a woman who’s not pin-thin lands the front of a publication, the cover image is always cropped as a portrait. Sure, the centerfold usually features full-length shots (Wilson’s curves are completely disguised in a coat in one), but a magazine has yet to depict a non-sample sized woman properly.
Elle Australia’s stateside sister publication, in particular, has been guilty of creatively obscuring a full body from view on multiple occasions. When Mindy Kaling covered the magazine last year for the fourth annual Women in TV issue, she appeared on one of four covers along with Zooey Deschanel, Amy Poehler, and Allison Williams. Yet while the other three thinner ladies were pictured in the glossy’s typical 3/4 fashion, Kaling, who has said publicly she’s a size 8 (which is less than average for an American woman), was cropped at the chest. It’s stunning, and the actress has the kind of face that can carry a close up, which could be part of the reason why she was singled out; but it still calls into question the creative direction. Considering similar treatment of full-figured women including Gabourey Sidibe and Melissa McCarthy, it only adds to the mag’s unfavorable reputation for fat-shaming.
If not a portrait shot, then it’s covering up curves in other ways. When McCarthy was on Elle, there was nary a hint of flesh, just a massive coat that concealed the fact that she had boobs or a butt hiding underneath. Rather than celebrating the fact that the actress has risen to the top of her industry without using her physique, like many do, her body should have been something that was celebrated. Interestingly enough, the Pitch Perfect star wears a similarly body-drowning style jacket. Yes, fashion editorials are meant to promote clothing, but when an actress or celebrity—as opposed to a model is the focus,—the attention should be directed to the star, not the sartorial.
But Elle can’t be held fully responsible for plus size prejudice. Adele’s Vogue cover was noticeably slimmed down with retouching tools and Lena Dunham’s cutesy Twiggy-like look only showed above her neck.
There doesn’t seem to be one overarching excuse editors give for printing women larger than a size 6 in these lopped off positions. It mostly seems that they’re unaware of the pattern within the industry and it’s just one big coincidence. But because of the beast the Internet is today, it’s impossible to claim ignorance. Each time a controversy comes to light, it’s sparked a war of words across social media platforms. It would be naive to think magazines aren’t paying special attention to women like Wilson, knowing backlash could be a potential headline. Hopefully, this serves as a lesson.