Elle takes heat for covering up plus-sized superstar Melissa McCarthy on cover

Elle Magazine broke some longstanding fashion magazine rules this month, daring to put a plus-sized star on the cover of its annual November “Women in Hollywood” issue.

But rather than embracing "Bridesmaids" star Melissa McCarthy’s curves, the publication has angered many by covering McCarthy up in a huge, oversized coat and only exposing a glimpse of flesh from her neck and calves.

“It’s a disappointment the way they covered her up so much. It is sending the psychological message that hiding is what full-figured women should do. Melissa is beautiful, talented and popular – her beauty should be flaunted not covered,” celebrity psychotherapist Stacy Kaiser told FOX411. “This shows that the fashion world is trying to strike the balance between featuring full-figured women, while still hiding them as well.”

McCarthy wasn’t the only actress celebrated with a November Elle cover – alternative covers included the likes of Reese Witherspoon in a tight, body-baring black dress, Shailene Woodley in a strappy swimsuit, Marion Cotillard in a sports bra and shorts, Naomie Harris showing off her mid-section in a cut-out tight dress, and an au natural face shot of Penelope Cruz.

Last year’s annual honor was awarded to teeny-tiny actress Sarah Jessica Parker, while curvy star Octavia Spencer also graced the issue, but in head-shot style only. And according to many confused and annoyed fans in the Twitterverse, it’s obvious that Elle had a motive in the McCarthy shoot beyond just showing off a massive Marina Rinaldi coat for fall fashion.

“She needs to show more skin, but God forbid a “big” woman be sexy,” wrote one, another observed that “the cover is depressing, as are basically all fashion mag covers nowadays,” and another tweeted: “beauty mag covering big girl in big coat, nothing to celebrate.”

Bustle.com insisted that “McCarthy’s November 2013 cover isn’t a victory for plus-size women,” and Slate.com pointed out that the question “isn’t whether or not McCarthy looks beautiful – she does,” but wondered “why Elle chose to obscure her body, whilst everyone else got to show off theirs.”

According to a poll on popular fashion website Go Fug Yourself, McCarthy is by far the most popular of the multi-covers among readers – she was favored by 44 percent of voters and Cruz received 19 percent, while Witherspoon stood at 9 percent and Cotillard at 4 percent.

Reps for McCarthy and Elle did not respond to a request for comment.