Why do successful women beat each down this way? Re Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer's Vogue photo shoot

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer had a very tasteful photo shoot with Vogue. Apparently upset by women being powerful and attractive and not apologizing for itthis female journalist Dr. Peggy Drexler felt she had to weigh in.

Why the hell do some women feel they have to take down a successful woman because she dares to be too attractive.

The question for me isn’t why successful women “beat each other down”, it’s why it’s considered appropriate to focus that level of attention on a successful woman’s appearance rather than on her accomplishments. Who was the last male executive to be featured in a GQ spread that focused on how sexy he was?

Why are you framing this as “women” pettily beating another woman down, rather than a woman offering a thoughtful critique about another woman’s portrayal in the media?

Because I don’t think the critique is particularly thoughtful. It focuses on why it’s a bad example for Mayer to be portrayed as an attractive woman and this (somehow) inherently detracts or subverts her accomplishments and gravitas and makes her a questionable role model for aspiring women.

It’s an absurd and petty critique of a powerful and accomplished woman.

Isn’t Vogue a fashion magazine?

Exactly. As if the attribute she considers most noteworthy is her appearance, not her professional success.

I would turn this around - why aren’t powerful and smart women allowed to also be beautiful and sexy? I’m sure she works hard on her appearance - why is it off limits to recognize that in a fashion magazine?

It’s just another form of sexism (or maybe jealousy?) in that a woman has to pick to be either beautiful or smart. Of course a woman can be both beautiful and smart and powerful. In fact, I’d say it goes hand in hand most of the time.

Are men expected to only be one or the other? And why would a woman castigate another woman for wanting to be both? That’s equally as sexist, I think.

So what if she does? It’s none of your business. She’s accountable to her loved ones and the shareholders of Yahoo. If she’s more proud of being hot, then so what? It doesn’t mean she can’t be smart and successful as well.

I don’t know how old this person is, but her looks won’t last forever. If that’s what she pins her future on, she will be SOL eventually. Men become more distinguished; women just get old. Sad but true.

I give you Sexy Bill Gates.

SOME men become more distinguished looking. Pot bellies and receding hairlines aren’t the same as eye crinkles and graying temples.

Some women age very well, too. The ones who can match staying slim with not getting that gaunt look in the face tend to end up looking more and more stunning as they age.

I agree that more men tend to go the distinguished route as they age and more women tend to put on weight…so I do get your point.

Steve Wozniak Sexiest Business Man Alive*


Did you look at the article? She is in her late 30’s and is most certainly not pinning her future on her looks alone. She has turned around a company that was considered by some to be on its way out. While some articles about her have questioned her decisions as CEO, none that I have seen portray her as anything other than an a bright, successful business woman.

I have no problem at all with a successful woman also being attractive and well-dressed. The problem for me is that no matter how successful or powerful a woman is, the focus always seems to revert to what she looks like. I’m getting the uncomfortable feeling we’re sliding towards the attitude that a woman must be attractive as well as intelligent and talented in order to succeed, and that is just not at all true for a man.

You think that a man doesn’t need to be attractive to be ultra successful? You’re wrong. I’m not talking middle management here, but in order to be successful at tat level, you need charisma. And even if you’re not Brad Pitt, charisma makes you attractive by definition. Look at the sex symbol status Trump received in the 80s at the height of his career.

And was this woman forced into a Michael Kors dress and made to pose on a chaise lounge? Don’t you think it can be fun and exciting to be in Vogue? Like it or not, looks are important for both men and women, but the defining factors in success are charisma, talent, intelligence and hard work. If you think success is based on looks alone, or even if the focus was on looks, there’s lots of hot chicks at the local strip joint (or beefy men at the construction site) that prove you wrong.

I was thinking that the image looked familiar somehow


Is there a need to show powerful women sprawled out in a horizontal position or does Vogue’s editorial department lack creativity?

Dr Drexler makes the point that Vogue is a fashion magazine and therefore their purpose it to sell fashion. No one is picking up Vogue for the hard hitting articles like “Will the return of culottes end the unrest in Syria?”

I don’t think Dr Drexler is beating up on her, but is rather disappointed that an article that could possibly educate women on what is involved in succeeding in business is reduced by the photo and content to “ I love fashion! “ “Geeks are the new sexy!”

Unless Yahoo had a swimsuit competition as part of the hiring process, her looks do not need to be highlighted as part of her success. You state that you are sure she works hard on her looks, but she is in her 30’s and possibly just won the genetic crapshoot and her looks are not something she has to work hard at. I am sure if she had to "work’ hard on her appearance we would have the heartwarming “I was a teenage gargoyle and overcame it” story along with the fashion shoot

To the contrary, I don’t think that looks alone guarantee success. I think it takes hard work, talent, intelligence and drive. And, yes, charisma plays a part. What I do think is that “charisma” means something different when we’re talking about a man than when we’re talking about a woman, and that a butt-ugly man who has power and money will be considered attractive, whereas a woman of similar attributes will be talked about in terms of her looks. I also think that’s wrong, and I think that when a successful woman feeds into that mind-set by putting on a Michael Kors dress and posing for a photo spread in Vogue, she’s helping to perpetuate a basically sexist system.

But then again, what do I know? I’m probably just jealous - at least, that’s the usual narrative.

When it comes down to it, beautiful people, both men and women, are given a lot of opportunity and deference. I think this piece of human nature is the giant stumbling block of feminism.

Beautiful women own and claim the advantages they get by being attractive, while, um, non-beautiful women resent the elevated status of their sexy brethren. Of course the woman who wasn’t attractive enough to garner benefits over other women is going to judge those who flaunt their attractiveness.

While that’s certainly true in many instances, I don’t believe that any woman who’s made it to the top of an organization got there by being attractive. Yes, attractive people do get breaks that the less-attractive miss out on, but if you look at the top levels of business and government, physical beauty doesn’t seem to be a pre-requisite for success. You don’t get to be a CEO because you’re pretty.

The issue here, for me, isn’t that I think a woman became successful because of her looks; the sticking point for me is that I think this woman is trivializing herself and, by extension, other successful women, by allowing herself to be portrayed primarily as an ornamental object.

This makes sense to me. Find a male CEO who strutted their goods this way that you respect…