Your local newsstand may not yet have the February issue of Elle, but the stampede to critique Mindy Kaling's cover has already prompted her to defend the black-and-white close-up to no less than David Letterman.
The other covers in the four-piece "women in television" issue featured full-color, fuller-body portraits of Amy Poehler, Zooey Deschanel, and Allison Williams. As Kaling told Letterman, critics deemed her cover, a headshot, as judgment against her curvy—or as she called it—"fat, beautiful body." Some even called it racist.
Amid the outrage and talk of fat-shaming, the conversation over Kaling's portrait missed out on any reference to the larger history and vocabulary of photography. To read some commentators, you'd think black and white was just a filter invented by Instagram, rather than a feature of some of the oldest and most beautiful photographic methods. (The film itself limits the detail to black and white, not the camera.) ...1