I’ve been carrying around People Magazine‘s 100 Most Beautiful issue all week, having bought it because I thought it would be interesting to talk about, but it wasn’t until the weekend that I had time to crack it open and check it out. And oh my god, it was worse than I thought! I used to read this issue every year when I was a teenager and I thought I remembered them paying at least a little lip service to inner beauty or unorthodox beauty or something along those lines. But no—“beauty” in this issue is the Western ideal of sterotypical beauty. I guess that’s the whole point—to fill a magazine with pretty people.
Don’t get me wrong, I certainly enjoy looking at pictures of, say, George Clooney and Iman. And it’s not as if there are a million Nikki Blonskys and Beth Dittos out there in the world. And yet… somehow I expected it to be less blatant. Because I’m super naive, I guess! Anyway, here are the pages I dog eared. Pretend we’re sitting together outside a coffee shop, sipping iced coffees, bitching about how annoying this magazine is.
Page 16: A photo of Jonah Hill jogging (before the “beautiful” section of the magazine starts, of course). Enjoy the sight of a fat person, because it’s basically the only one in this entire magazine.
Page 19-21: A three-page “bikini challenge” ad for anti-cellulite cream that is “the difference between worrying about cellulite and not having to” (because you used the cream and got rid of it). Let me save you five bucks, or however much this cream costs you: those aren’t your only two choices.
Page 69: Article about the issue’s cover girl, Kate Hudson. Definitely beautiful, no arguments there, but also blonde, blue-eyed, and slender. Also in this issue: Kristen Bell, Taylor Swift, Elizabeth Banks, Heidi and Lauren from The Hills, Carrie Underwood, Christina Applegate, Nicole Kidman, Jessica Simpson, Blake and Taylor from Gossip Girl, Sandra Lee, and Heather Locklear (among others). Hmm. Are you trying to tell us something, People?
Page 101: Queen Latifah! Oh wait, it’s a Jenny Craig ad. The premise of the ad is that your size isn’t important, you should just be a “size healthier” than you are now. Brilliant marketing, there, Jenny Craig. HEY WOMEN OF AMERICA! You are all exactly one size too big! Sorry!
Page 108: Sarah Silverman, talking about how Jimmy Kimmel grabs her “inner thigh fat” and says how much he likes it, even though she hates it. So there is one point in favor of this magazine, because that’s cute.
Page 110: An eye-catching ad for Curvation featuring a full-figured woman in lingerie and Christian Louboutins with some sexy ad copy. It is genuinely awesome and positive, and if we hadn’t seen Curvation founder Queen Latifah advertising Jenny Craig a few pages ago, this would be even better.
Page 154: Queen Latifah again, in the magazine this time, in a section about celebrities who have charitable causes. This is the only plus-sized person on the list of 100 beautiful people, and keep in mind, she was in a diet ad in the same magazine! I also feel compelled to note that she is wearing sequins.
Page 175: A chart showing “beauty at every age,” with 10 people each listed for the 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s. So that’s 40 people in this little sample size. They are all women. Jennifer Hudson is the only one even remotely plus-sized.
So what have we learned? That only women of color are plus-sized? That being blonde, blue-eyed and thin is the best way to be beautiful? That People is every bit as vapid as you thought it was? That you’re a size too big and have cellulite? That, if you’re overweight, you have a 99% chance of not being considered “beautiful”?
How about all of the above?
Posted by mo pie