Wednesday, 16 October 2013

The Politics of Celebrity Covers

I remember when magazines had models on the front covers. Those days, however, are long gone and now it's only celebrity faces gracing the front covers of women's magazines. The simple reason for this change is that magazines with celebrity covers sell better than those with anonymous models. So the magazines made the shift to showing only celebrities on their covers and while models do, of course, occasionally land the highly sought after cover, it's only the model mega-stars like Kate Moss. But some celebrities are better at selling magazines that others and a lot of thought goes into which celebrity should front which issue to maximise sales for that month. Check out this article for an interesting breakdown on the selling power of the various celebrities.

This month's cover of Elle features Melissa McCarthy (from Bridesmaids and The Heat) and the verdict is pretty mixed. Some are celebrating the inclusion of a plus-size woman on the cover of a prestigious magazine. Most seem critical that Melissa McCarthy's body is entirely obscured with a large coat. What makes Melissa McCarthy's ensconcement stand out more is that the alternative covers for this month feature Reese Witherspoon in a skin-tight black dress, Marion Cotillard in a crop-top and Shailene Woodley in her underwear. So it's nice to see Melissa McCarthy on the cover; it would have been nicer to see more of her.

Vogue UK garnered similar levels of scorn in 2011 when they featured the wonderful Adele on their cover but used a close-up image in what many claimed was an attempt to hide her body. However according to Vogue editor, Alexandra Shulman, Adele herself requested that a close-up photo be used due to her own insecurities over her figure. Whether or not the close-up shot was Adele's idea, it's undeniable that magazines tend to use the same tight headshot when featuring larger women on their covers. Melissa McCarthy's cover probably wouldn't be as big of a deal if it wasn't a part of a long line of covers obscuring larger bodies.

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