How Mens Magazines Display Women As Ornaments

Esquire’s editor has admitted: We show ornamental women in same way as cars.


Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Esquire editor: We show ‘ornamental’ women in same way as cars” was written by Mark Sweney, for guardian.co.uk on Tuesday 19th March 2013 18.41 UTC

Esquire editor Alex Bilmes has admitted that the magazine uses pictures of “ornamental” women for male readers “in the same way we provide pictures of cool cars”.

Bilmes, who moved from rival men’s title GQ to edit Esquire in 2010, said that his magazine’s policy was “more honest” than that of the women’s magazine industry, which he claimed perpetuate negative images of women.

“The women we feature in the magazine are ornamental,” he said, speaking on a panel at the Advertising Week Europe conference in London on Tuesday. “I could lie to you if you want and say we are interested in their brains as well. We are not. They are objectified.”

Bilmes, speaking on a panel hosted by Cosmopolitan editor Louise Court about feminism in the media and advertising, added that men “see women in 3D” in many different roles in life “but at certain times we like to see them sexy”.

“[Esquire] provide pictures of girls in the same way we provide pictures of cool cars,” he said. “It is ornamental. Women’s magazines do the same thing.”

He said that in his view Esquire was “more honest” than many titles, citing the “anti-feminist” example of a newspaper using a picture of model Naomi Campbell next to a financial story “because she shopped at Marks & Spencer once”.

He argued that Esquire was, in fact, “less rigid” in its portrayal of women than women’s magazines.

“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. “Most women’s magazines don’t put them [older women] in their magazines.”

He said the women’s magazine industry and advertising targeting women were primarily responsible for perpetuating stereotyped and negative images of women.

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