ELLE Cover Lightens The Most Beautiful Woman in the World

By Jorge Rivas
January 12, 2011


Leave it to ELLE Magazine to photochop the world's most
beautiful woman. Aishwarya Rai, the reigning queen of Indian
cinema, model and classically trained dancer is currently on
the cover of ELLE India--several shades lighter. Rai's skin
has been lightened and her dark brown hair appears to have a
red tint to it.

The Times of India reported the former Miss World is "furious
with the bleaching botch-up" and is considering taking legal
action against ELLE.

ELLE's mission is to make women "chic and smart, guide their
self-expression, and encourage their personal power," but
their recent covers could lead readers to believe that "chic,
smart and personal empowerment" only comes to those with
light skin.

This is the second faux pas in recent history for ELLE. Last
year the U.S. edition of the magazine made Oscar- nominated
actress Gabourey Sidibe a much lighter cover girl. It's an
all too common practice that happens across the beauty
industry. Even the untrained eye has become accustomed to
digitally altered images, so accustomed that readers would
notice an image that has not been altered before one that

So we're not surprised that ELLE retouched Aishwarya Rai's
photo, but the severity of the retouching and lightening is
still quite jarring. Not to mention the real implications
that these actions have for readers. To that end, Change.org
has started a campaign
g_to_whiten_indian_skin) asking the magazine to offer a
public apology. <

India has a thriving skin lightening beauty industry that
includes products with ingredients so hazardous they've been
banned in the European Union, among others. But India is not
alone. A recent study found that 90 percent of the women
entering Arizona clinics for mercury poisoning were Chicanas
who had been using skin-lightening creams. A Harvard medical
school professor notes: "These women had tried so desperately
to whiten their skin color that they had poisoned their
bodies by applying mercury-based 'beauty creams'."

For insight on what goes through the minds of the people
doing the retouching check out The New Yorker's "Pixel
Perfect", which profiles Pascal Dangin, the premier retoucher
of fashion photographs (Vanity Fair, W, Harper's Bazaar,
Allure, French Vogue, Italian Vogue, V, and the Times
Magazine, among others, also use Dangin.)

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