An online space for queer, questioning, lesbian, bi, trans and everything else in between women at Yale

Monday, April 19, 2010

Can Esquire be Empowering?

Esquire's May 2010 cover features actress Christina Hendricks as "The Best Looking Woman in America." This cover has attracted attention since, as the picture below makes plain, Christina has curves.

Before people get too excited about progressive ideas about body type, I should point out that Christina was selected by a poll of 10,000 women. There's no telling what kind of woman a similar survey of men would have produced, so it's a little early to be jumping the gun and breathily asking what this means for women as some other magazines have done.

Frankly, if women see Christina's cover as a battle we've won, we've already lost the war.

It's a positive step to have many different women featured as attractive in the mainstream media, but this only the first step to the more important attempt to define attractiveness as a concept that includes, but is not limited to physical attractiveness. As long as we praise media only for their willingness to expand the definition of physical desirability for women, we buy into their idea that this is the only attribute of women worthy of notice.

The Esquire cover is not progress. It is simply a good-looking photo of a good-looking woman.

(h/t to Project Rungay)

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