Sept. 15, 2010 -- She's not the white waif or blond bombshell usually found on magazine covers: Gabourey Sidibe beams out from the October issue of Elle, one of four actresses the magazine put on its cover to celebrate notable women in their 20s.
"It's hard to feel like busting out the Champagne when Elle's other 'game changing' women of a certain age are much more traditional glamourpusses," Mary Elizabeth Williams wrote in a Salon.com editorial. "The only other African-American woman on the list is Janelle Monae, and the only other who isn't whippet-thin is Meghan McCain."
Without a doubt, Sidibe, the Oscar-nominated star of "Precious," who now appears in the Showtime series "The Big C," deserves press and praise. Few full-figured women win major roles in Hollywood; actresses of color are far outnumbered by their white peers. But some have questioned the treatment Elle gave Sidibe.
"Look closely, and you'll notice there's something off in Sidibe's cover photo. Her skin is noticeably lighter than usual," Julianne Hing wrote in a Color Lines blog post.
Indeed, Sidibe looked noticably darker on the cover of March's Ebony magazine, and in recent photographs. But a spokeswoman for Elle told ABCNews.com that "nothing out of the ordinary was done" with Sidibe's cover. "We have four separate covers this month, and Gabby's cover was not retouched any more or less than the others."
The appearance of Sidibe's skin isn't the only thing that's being criticized.
"That's just one thing Elle got wrong with its Sidibe cover," Hing wrote. "By cropping Sidibe's cover photo so close, Elle may have been trying to hide her full-figured body -- its own travesty -- but they only made her seem bigger. Sidibe doesn't get the standard female cover photo treatment: three-quarters of the woman's body centered with strong margins of white space on either side of the woman. She gets a uniquely awkward cropped shot."
Sidibe has not spoken publicly about the controversy, and her representatives did not immediately respond to ABCNews.com's requests for comment. There's no question that Sidibe gracing a magazine cover is a good thing, but how good is it when the conversation focuses on the magazine's treatment of her instead of the star herself?