We’d gotten plenty of e-mails about Beyonce’s dual Elle covers, but nothing prepared me for seeing it fly through my mail slot and land in my foyer. I might have yelped.

First, though, let’s look at the newsstand cover — the one, presumably, that Elle thinks WON’T send people running screaming to Marie Claire:

Beyoncé terrified to have a baby after being traumatised by birth of nephew

[Photo: Splash News]

This picture is fine, I guess. I’m not sure about the painful-looking art-deco napkin rings she’s wearing on her left arm, and her random sash kind of jumps out at me as something you would wear if you were feeling really bloated that day and wanted some camouflage, rather than something that actually looks good out in the world as part of that outfit. Oh, and her smile reminds me of nothing so much as the triangular grins they draw onto South Park characters, which in turn reminds me that I haven’t watched Woodland Critter Christmas yet this season.

Overall, it’s resoundingly average. But what tickles me is that the way that, in these troubled times when all I want is positive reinforcement, Elle is reaching out and saying, “Listen. You ARE kind of a disaster. And let’s face it, you probably won’t get that much better. But we promise we will expend minimal effort to make you marginally less tragic.” They’re looking into whether there’s a fat gene that may or may not make your waistline inevitable (subtext: dieting might NEVER WORK so just QUIT until you’re sure), there’s hairstyles they SPECIFICALLY say are for hopeless people, and the entire issue is themed as “MAKE BETTER.” Not “makeover,” or “make fabulous,” or even “how to feel fabulous even though we’re all freaking poor and waiting for the sky to fall.” I would like a little optimism with my recession. Instead, it’s tips for people who don’t feel like putting in that much work, and are willing to reap the minute rewards of the lackluster seeds they’re sowing. In short, this cover needs Prozac and maybe some caffeine.

Still, any objections I had to Beyonce’s styling were quickly put to rest when the postman shoved Sasha Fierce’s subscriber cover through my door. With apologies for the crappy color quality — my scanner must have some kind of hangover — feast on this:


Pro: Minimal cover lines.

Con: As one reader astutely pointed out, she appears to be wearing a coat made of a closet full of jelly shoes soldered together.

Pro: This version of the Make Better issue does indeed make the other cover seem better.

Con: Does she have indigestion?

Pro: Although, even though this scared the bejeesus out of me, the cover DOES look more High Fashion, and less High Cosmo Knockoff.

Con: Even my pros are starting to fight against my other pros.

Pro: Why do we pronounce her name Be-YON-say if there’s an accent over
the E at the end? Shouldn’t we start calling her Be-yon-SAYYYY? This is a benefit if it gives me an excuse to start sounding ridiculous every time I say her name out loud. [Edited to add: Apparently, the reason I am confused is because I took Spanish in high school, where accents denote emphasis, and her name is pseudo-French, where they evidently don’t. Now I am disappointed. Maybe I’ll start calling her BeyonSAAAAAY anyway in protest.][Edited to add again: Just got an email from a lovely Canadian woman who said it WOULD affect the pronunciation, and someone ELSE who said it needs an accent over the first E too or else it would be Buh-YONCE, so now I need aspirin and a nap and she really needs to reconsider the damn accent mark altogether.]

Con: She looks like she’s starring in a revival of Cats.

Damn, that last one trumps them all, I think. And I say that as someone who saw Cats three times. Look, I was six and seven years old. DO NOT JUDGE.