At a panel discussion on advertising, Esquire U.K. editor Alex Bilmes let fly with a whole spiel about how his magazine treats women as "ornamental." And he would like a cookie now, please, for his "honesty."
"The women we feature in the magazine are ornamental. I could lie to you if you want and say we are interested in their brains as well. We are not. They are objectified...We provide pictures of girls in the same way we provide pictures of cool cars. It is ornamental. Women's magazines do the same thing."
But as the Guardian reports, Bilmes said that he thinks men's magazines' portrayal of the female celebrities they cover — the typical clothing-optional photo shoot, the typical overwrought, sexualized cover profile — is fairer and more "honest" than that of women's magazines. Because a) tits and ass and b) Cameron Diaz.
"We are more ethnically diverse, more shape diverse," he said. "In fashion magazines women are much thinner. We have older women, not really old, in their 40s." He went on to cite the example of actress Cameron Diaz, who is in her 40s, as an "older" women used on the cover of a recent issue of Esquire.
When Cameron Diaz — a former model who turned 40 in August — is your magazine's best example of size and age diversity, you are doing size and age diversity wrong.
Men's magazines do frequently objectify the women they feature, and it's nice that Bilmes has the intellectual honesty to admit it. But he also has the gall to pretend that the objectification and sexualization that his magazine peddles is somehow a higher grade of bullshit than that peddled by the ladymags. That's specious at best. Esquire U.K. is a magazine where recent cover lines have included "Why Men And Women Should Never Work Together" and "Look Sharp, Bag A Bridesmaid: How To Rock The Reception In Style." Truly ground-breaking gender equality stuff, that.
Esquire Editor: We Show 'Ornamental' Women In Same Way As Cars [Guardian]