While most magazine editors claim that they don’t touch the skin color of the celebrities on the cover, many have pointed out that the effect is just as dangerous when it’s unintentional. Celebrities like Beyoncé have went through many white-washing controversies, from magazine covers to cosmetics ads.
Check out some of the worst skin lightening magazine covers and decide for yourself if the problem was Photoshop, the lighting or if the controversy doesn’t have a leg to stand on.
Kerry Washington – InStyle
One the March 2015 issue cover of InStyle magazine, “Scandal” star Kerry Washington definitely looks lighter, and plenty have complained about it on social media. The backlash caused a response from the magazine, with an explanation about the fact that “our cover lighting has likely contributed to this concern”.
Kerry commented on the issue on Twitter, praising the comment and adding “Thank u 4 opening this convo. Its an important 1 that needs to be had.”
Rihanna – Vogue
The November 2011 issue of British Vogue faced similar criticism, and many consider it one of the worst skin lightening magazine covers. The Barbadian beauty was shown with lighter skin than usual, but the editors replied that “If her skin does look pale it is probably because of the very strong sunlight in LA that day.”
Gabourey Sidibe – Elle
Academy Award nominee Gabourey Sidibe faced a similar problem when she posed for Elle magazine in 2010. The “Precious” and “American Horror Story” star looked visibly lighter, yet editor-in-chief Robbie Myers claimed no Photoshop was involved, telling E! that “the lighting is different. The photography is different than a red carpet shot from a paparazzi.”
See also: Celebrities Before and After Photoshop
Beyoncé – Marie Claire, Joy
When it comes to skin tone, Beyoncé has been involved in more controversies than any of the other women on our list. The first white-washing scandal was caused by 2008 L’Oreal ads that featured the singer, she still ended up on some of worst skin lightening magazine covers years later.
In 2009, Russian Joy used a much lighter skin tone than the same picture on the cover of Glamour magazine, and Marie Claire Australia also changed her skin tone compared to the same picture published in British Vogue in 2013.
Kim Kardashian – Complex
While the reality TV star caused plenty of controversy with her Paper magazine cover, her first big scandal was related to pictures published by Complex magazine in 2009. After the original untouched picture was replaced on the magazine’s website with a lighter skinned and thinner Kim, social media noticed and complained.
Aishwarya Rai Bachchan – Elle
In 2010, Elle India definitely put out one of the worst skin lightening magazine covers. The Bollywood star who won the Miss World title in 1994 was noticeably lighter in the picture than in any of her others. The scandal was also fueled by the fact that skin bleaching products are very popular in India, thanks to a controversial fair skin beauty standard.
Freida Pinto – Vanity Fair
Vanity Fair was accused of white-washing the Indian actress in their March 2009 issue, and Freida Pinto was also noticeably lighter in 2011 L’Oreal ads. The magazine didn’t seem to learn from the mistake and caused a similar controversy in January 2014, when a Lupita Nyong’o photoshoot also came under fire for skin lightening.
Halle Berry – Harper’s Bazaar
The April 2009 issue of Harper’s Bazaar also has one of the worst skin lightening magazine covers. Halle Berry’s picture was extensively photoshopped, and her skin tone is visibly lighter than the images used inside the magazine.
Brandy – YRB
R&B singer Brandy made headlines for the wrong reasons in a 2012 fashion spread for YRB magazine. The cover wasn’t the only problem with the shoot, since she’s visibly lighter in all the pictures.
Sanaa Lathan – Uptown
The May 2012 issues of Uptown is also considered one of the worst skin lightening magazine covers by many, and the fact that it’s an African-American publication made things even worse. Actress Sanaa Lathan looked visibly lighter on the cover than in the video of the photo shoot.