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Kerry Washington Speaks Out on InStyle’s Skin Lightening Controversy

Kerry Washington’s InStyle cover for March has been at the center of Internet controversy since readers accused the publication of lightening the actress’ skin. Kerry appears on the cover, arms akimbo, smiling in a reptile print dress. The actress is heavily lit, in an almost ethereal manner. But fans of Kerry were not feeling InStyle‘s creative direction on the shoot one bit.



Commenters took to the magazine’s Instagram to express their discontent with a few pointing out that this lightening issue is doubly offensive as the issue is being released during Black History Month. As one concerned commenter wrote, “I know her makeup artist does a wonderful job at matching her skin tone… So this is definitely lighting and post production work. Why are they still doing this? In essence…in this industry it’s cool to be tan (same photographer shot a Vogue cover and the white model is super tan but Kerry is white washed?). It’s cool to appropriate blackness but heavens when you actually have a black person on set…let’s over light her to make her appear lighter! Perhaps your post production department or who ever controlled the lighting that day needs diversity training…”

InStyle heard the cries of the slighted masses and responded to the issue on its website: “While we did not digitally lighten Kerry’s skin tone, our cover lighting has likely contributed to this concern. We understand that this has resulted in disappointment and hurt. We are listening, and the feedback has been valuable. We are committed to ensuring that this experience has a positive influence on the ways in which we present all women going forward.”

Kerry seemed pleased enough with the cover herself (she posted it to Instagram), but sent a supportive tweet InStyle‘s way in response to the apology, calling it a “beautiful statement” and mentioning that skin lightening — intentional or not — is an issue that needs to be discussed.

What do you think? Does Kerry look anything like herself on the cover? Or is the controversy much ado about nothing?

[via InStyle, @kerrywashington]