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18th February 2014

What is sexy?

Natalie Clark discusses THAT Elle cover, and what sexy really is…

Elle magazine seems to have got themselves into a bit of a pickle. February’s fourth annual Women in TV Issue featured some of the small-screen’s most talked about actresses: Zooey Deschanel , Allison Williams, and Amy Poehler all looked fabulous, yet Mindy Kaling’s cover caused quite a stir. The Mindy Project star’s shot is undeniably beautiful, but the unmistakable differences between the covers’ styles have sparked an intense backlash. Mindy’s cover is shot in black and white and a close up, whilst the other women’s covers feature full body shots in colour. Instantly, with each of these covers sitting side by side on a newsstand, you can’t help but notice a painstakingly obvious disparity.

People were outraged that Elle would attempt to hide Kaling’s body and ethnicity, yet it was Mindy herself who tweeted, ‘”I love my @Ellemagazine cover. It made me feel glamorous & cool. And if anyone wants to see more of my body, go on thirteen dates with me.” Elle’s Editor-in-Chief Roberta Myers shot back with a response, declaring that the notion of trying to hide Kaling’s shape and ethnicity goes against what Elle believes in, and that the choice in cover was because she looked, ‘powerful, beautiful, potent, and sexy in the best sense of the word.’ Which she does, without a doubt. And if Mindy herself loved it, why should the rest of the world kick up such a fuss?

Instagram: pbandj_eromy

If Kaling’s cover had solely been published, this big furore would have been a smidgen of its current size, if not non-existent. But with being able to compare it to the other actresses, is Elle subconsciously telling us what is and isn’t considered sexy? Or is the public’s preconceived idea of what is sexy the reason why in defending Kaling they actually offended her?

So what is considered sexy? Obviously, the general idea of what ‘sexy’ is has evolved over the years. From women’s body shapes to men’s facial hair, transforming cultures and changing times have been accompanied by the evolving notions of ‘sexy’. In a society where, whether we like it or not, celebrity culture guides what is considered sexy, hot and beautiful, the general definition in the dictionary would probably be next to a picture of Mila Kunis. We have our Megan Foxes, our Blake Livelys and our Beyonces prescribing this ideal of what’s hot and whats not. But then we have women like P!NK, Nigella Lawson and Meryl Streep, who don’t typically fit the size zero, young, hot mould, yet are still considered some of the world’s sexiest women.

Image: Flick Creative Commons

Is it outrageous that Lively’s slender frame and P!NK’s athletic build can both be described using the same word, even though Lively’s Hollywood body is considered the norm? I believe that everyone has their own opinion on what they find sexy. I personally think that Megan Fox’s sexy is actually way too intimidating, verging on scary. On the other hand, Christina Hendricks is my kind of woman. Some of you may think Kim Kardashian is the epitome of sexiness, yet some of you may have been offended by that and will probably stop reading. Sexy is, to state a cliché, in the eye of the beholder. So when it comes to the Elle covers, of course they are all sexy. I mean, they would be sexier without all the airbrushing, but that’s a topic for another issue…

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