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Is the Outrage Over Melissa McCarthy’s Elle Cover Misplaced? The Answer is a Big Fat YES.

Melissa McCarthy

Trench coat or no, she’s still a large woman. On the cover of a major magazine.

Melissa McCarthy is known for many things. Being thin is not one of them. Does the cover shot on the November 2013 edition of Elle make her appear slender? Did the trench coat fool you? Probably not, right? So why all the chatter (“Covered-up Melissa McCarthy magazine cover draws criticism” and “Plus-size polemic: Is Melissa McCarthy’s Elle cover shameful?” and “Is Melissa McCarthy’s Elle cover shameful?“)?

Elle‘s “The Women in Hollywood Issue” features plenty of pin-thin, classically gorgeous actresses, including Reese Witherspoon and Penelope Cruz. Surely Elle could have gotten away with just showing them on the cover and not including a newer star such as McCarthy. And McCarthy has a beautiful face, so surely they could have just done a from-the-neck-up shot, as Vogue recently did with a pregnant Kate Winslet on the cover.

But instead, they chose to show McCarthy from head to knee. On the cover. And, yes, in a trench coat. Slate calls the shot “fat-shaming.” There’s criticism for the fact that her hair is covering “part of her face.” Except it’s really just covering part of one eye, which is hardly fat. And there’s criticism for the fact that she’s wearing a big coat. Except that McCarthy actually chose the coat herself. There’s also talk of the fact that she’s showing very little flesh. Except this is the November issue, not the July issue, at which time she might seem to be overdressed for the season.

Plus? If you look at the cover, a couple of the headlines kind of scream out there’s nothing hypocritical going on:

“How to Style It: The Modern Way to Wear Your Favorite Clothes”

“The Perfect New Coat Shape”

There’s clearly a dearth of larger women on the covers of major fashion magazines and represented in fashion in general. But here’s a magazine that’s clearly not discriminating against the plus-size set and yet they’re still being nitpicked. Were McCarthy wearing the same outfit as Witherspoon wore on her cover you can bet your bottom dollar people would cry out that they were trying to embarrass her.

McCarthy wasn’t Photoshopped to look skinny. Her shape is what it is — and right there for everyone to see it. Maybe she’s not in a curve-hugging outfit, but if you do a Google image search of McCarthy, that doesn’t exactly seem to be her style, anyway. This isn’t a piece about large women celebrating their size. It’s about women in Hollywood, and McCarthy is one of the successful ones. Not every large woman wants her curves to be hugged in everything she wears and for her cellulite to be worshiped one fat roll at a time.

By all means, speak out and speak up for underrepresented women. But it would seem in this case that McCarthy can speak for herself, which she actually did — “[Elle is] a magazine I grew up with and I hadn’t done anything quite like that,” she said omg! Insider. “I was nervous… It was kind of amazing.”

It doesn’t appear that she’s exactly crying in her Twinkies. Which is all the more reason that we don’t need to do it for her.

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