Jennifer Aniston's dark skin tone on magazine cover prompts criticism of InStyle

"In 2019, if you want a brown skinned woman on your cover, put a brown-skinned woman on your cover," one Instagram user posted of the magazine.

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By Janelle Griffith

Jennifer Aniston appears on a handful of covers for InStyle magazine's October issue but one photo in particular has drawn criticism.

The cover in question was one of five that InStyle posted to Instagram on Wednesday featuring Aniston, billed as a “babe eternal,” to promote the magazine's annual beauty issue.

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"Jennifer Aniston has been a beacon of American glamour for the past 25 years, and now she’s stretching her boundaries," the Instagram caption read. "In a series of five newsstand covers (just try to choose a favorite), she channels iconic beauty looks from the ‘60s and ‘70s."

In the image — in which Aniston is wearing a black DKNY bra, a Lalaounis necklace and Elizabeth Locke, John Hardy and Reinstein Ross bracelets — the actress, who discussed with the magazine how it felt to turn 50 earlier this year, looked airbrushed and dark, many social media users were quick to note.

Much of the criticism seemed to be aimed firmly at the magazine.

Some compared her complexion to that of Rachel Dolezal, a white woman who gained national attention in 2015 for masquerading as black while serving as a local NAACP leader.

"I get that these covers are supposed to be channeling the glamour of yesteryear but that 'glamour' routinely marginalized women of color for white women (whether made tan or otherwise)," Instagram user Patricia Birch, commented on the InStyle photo. "Seeing Jennifer Aniston several shades darker than normal reminds me of that legacy. In 2019, if you want a brown skinned woman on your cover, put a brown-skinned woman on your cover."

Others who weighed in online defended the image, arguing that Aniston has been "tan" since she was on the hit NBC sitcom "Friends" and that this magazine cover was nothing out of the ordinary.

A publicist for InStyle told NBC News, "This one shot in particular was inspired by Veruschka," a German model who was popular during the 1960s. "The other four looks were inspired by Catherine Deneuve, Lauren Hutton, Brigitte Bardot and Charlotte Rampling."

The magazine sent NBC News three images of Veruschka appearing heavily tanned, which they said inspired the photo of Aniston in question. InStyle would not comment as to whether Aniston’s skin was darkened, either with makeup or through photoshopping.

Representatives for Aniston declined comment Thursday.