There's a fierce debate afoot in the comments section of the Guardian article "Has the Esquire editor escaped from a Benny Hill sketch?:"
According to Bilmes, Esquire uses pictures of women in his magazine "in the same way we provide pictures of cool cars". "The women that we feature in the magazine are ornamental," he said while speaking on a panel about feminism in the media and advertising. "I could lie to you and say we are interested in their brains as well. We are not. They are objectified."... Lovely as Bilmes sounds, I can't help wondering whether or not he may also be in possession of a time-travelling automobile, as he is clearly stumbling around the wrong century. Isn't there a Benny Hill sketch somewhere, missing a ruddy-faced pervert?The most popular comment arguing that it is okay to objectify women in a magazine is one by StVitusGerulaitis:
They [Esquire] are mainly using models as ornaments. That's what models are for. They know that when they take the job and are well paid. Same for male models. There's nothing wrong with appreciating the aesthetic value of other people. We are beautiful animals on the whole.Regardless of where you stand on that debate, I have a novel for you about modeling, which might give us more perspective into the whole issue. Although the writing is so-so, the upside is that it was written by a former supermodel, so the author knows what she's talking about. The book is A Model Summer by Paulina Porizkova:
An incisive, beautifully written first novel by a former supermodel that explores the glamorous and gritty world she inhabitedOnly a handful of women in the world have experienced what Paulina Porizkova has -- being whisked away to model in Paris while still a teenager, reaching the pinnacle of the profession before her schoolmates had even graduated -- and fewer still have the insight to capture it on paper. In her first novel, Paulina tells the story of Jirina. A tall, scrawny fifteen-year-old girl from Sweden, she's much more accustomed to taunts and disdain than admiration and affection, whether from her classmates or her own family. That all changes when her only friend, Hatty, asks to practice her makeup and photography skills on Jirina. Almost before she knows it Jirina is on a plane to Paris, where she will spend the summer in a milieu entirely alien to her. Living at the home of her modeling agency's owner and constantly subjected to blunt physical assessments, catty and often cruel fellow models, and womanizing photographers...Jirina embarks on a journey beyond her wildest imaginings.
UPDATE: for a longer review of the novel, please check out the I Read Too Much blog.