Saturday, July 18, 2009

Marie Claire highlights the best of Princeton ladies: their looks

by Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux

I personally do not look to Marie Claire as a bastion of feminist values - I've found, generally, that "women's magazines" do not so much as emphasize women's specific interests but rather treat them like idiotic and impressionable buying machines. But this particular ladies' mag has hit a strange new low in their recent online slideshow, "Beautiful Women of Princeton, NJ - What I Love About Me." The slideshow is introduced by a cutesy list of things we love about Princeton, like the fact that our campus was part of the brilliant, groundbreaking Transformers 2 or that we're a mere hour away from the breathtaking beauty of the Jersey Shore (ending, of course, with a nod to "cute boys in polo shirts" - because we're all at Princeton for our MRS degree, and we're all heterosexual).

The slideshow itself features ten young women, posing in various parts of campus, accompanied by little quotes from said beauties about what they "love about me" - although the reporter, Elizabeth Dunlap, did not probe more than skin deep. I will give Dunlap props for including more than a smattering of minorities in the show, and including a thirty-year-old woman with her child (I'm assuming a grad student), but the women are overwhelmingly slender and traditionally beautiful, even if they are from varying ethnic backgrounds. I know some of the women in the slideshow, and they are all incredibly lovely, but what disturbs me the most is the fact that the women I do know (and I'm assuming the others) are celebrated for what they look like and not their enormous accomplishments. In some cases, their looks are tied to what they've been able to achieve, as in the case of one woman who says that her "big features" help her to be a better actress.

I'm also honestly unsure as to the purpose of the show. On the one hand, it does emphasize the very crucial fact that smart and pretty are not mutually exclusive. But it seems also to encourage women who are incredibly intelligent and accomplished to measure themselves through the lens of traditional standards of beauty. Although the women were advertised as "brainy beauties" who had "put down their books to mug for the camera," there was no way to tell that these are some of the most intelligent, driven women in the country. I'm also waiting for a "men's magazine" to do a feature on the "smart studs" of Princeton.

Thanks to Emily for the tip!


At July 18, 2009 at 12:26 PM , Blogger echomikeromeo said...

You're welcome!

Very well said; you echoed a lot of what I was feeling about the slideshow. I'd only add that it seems as if this ties into the prevailing sense that smart women are somehow threatening--and that by reducing them to their looks, by ignoring their intelligence and their accomplishments, it can somehow be made to seem as if Shirley Tilghman and her posse are not going to take over the world.

This reminds me of the way old white Southern Republican men have been treating Sotomayor--her incredible academic accomplishments as a Princeton student have been rendered unimportant, because they are clearly threatening--as Pat Buchanan illustrated when he appeared on Maddow on Thursday.

At July 18, 2009 at 8:52 PM , Anonymous Miemis said...

Women who claim that they are socially rejected because they are "too smart and threatening" are like men who rue their dating woes as being "too nice."

At August 2, 2009 at 5:36 PM , Anonymous Late to da game said...

"Women who claim that they are socially rejected because they are "too smart and threatening" are like men who rue their dating woes as being "too nice.""

Not really. A good portion of American society still views a smart, accomplished woman of color as threatening. Case in point: the treatment of Michelle Obama during the last presidential election.


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