Kerry Washington’s InStyle cover criticized for lighter skin; mag explains


Kerry Washington and InStyle magazine have a photo-editing scandal on their hands.

The fashion glossy has come under fire for appearing to have lightened the African American “Scandal” star’s skin on the bright cover of its March issue.

On Thursday, the magazine posted a statement on its website saying that no such lightening had occurred.

“We are super fans of Kerry Washington here at InStyle. To feature her on the cover of our March spring fashion issue is both an honor and a delight,” the statement began.


“We have heard from those who have spoken out about our newsstand cover photograph, concerned that Kerry’s skin tone was lightened. 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.”

Washington, who shines on the cover, had already made the image her Twitter avatar and approved of the magazine’s explanation.

“Beautiful statement. Thank u 4 opening this convo. Its an important 1 that needs to be had,” she tweeted.

Prior to the controversy, the “Django Unchained” actress took to Instagram to share her achievement.

“I’m THRILLED to share with you all that I’m on the cover of this year’s March @instylemagazine! Can’t wait for you guys to see it and read it! So honored. And crazy excited.”

In the issue, the 38-year-old talks about finding work-life balance after welcoming daughter Isabelle last April and the guilt that some moms feel after giving birth.


“Women use this ‘guilt’ word a lot, but I’m not sure how I feel about it,” said the working mom. “I know why it’s the word that keeps coming up, but I can’t co-sign on it yet. There has got to be a better way. You can’t be all things to all people all the time. You have to experience your humanity, you have to know you are a limited vessel, and you can only do so much.”

As for the fashionista’s iconic style and her fixer character’s on-point sartorial knack, Washington said she has a bit more fun with fashion than her gladiator alter-ego does.

“Red-Carpet Kerry wears a lot more color and pattern than Olivia does,” she said. “She makes bold choices.”

Indeed, the ABC star daringly bared her pregnant belly at the SAG Awards last year, making for one seriously memorable red carpet moment.

“When I was pregnant, I showed up at the SAG awards in a bare-midriff gown by Prada. I knew some people were going to hate it, but I thought it was super cute and really fun. Olivia, meanwhile, sticks to a more neutral palette in pastels by designers like Dior, Ferragamo and Escada.”

And enough white dresses, coats, suits and handbags to fill up the White House.

Still, Washington said, “Olivia’s had a huge influence.”

“After the first couple of episodes aired, people started posting on Twitter things like ‘I have a job interview today, and I’m trying to dress like Olivia Pope.’”


InStyle’s spring fashion issue hits newsstands on Feb. 13.

Follow me on Twitter @NardineSaad.