This piece is fucking brilliant. Granted it’s an UK editorial but I feel like it applies to America too:
The only difference between the girls - always ‘girls’ - of FHM and the women I meet in real life, is that real life is a lot more diverse. My friends have dimples, and freckles, and curvy bits, and complicated personalities; they make amusing facial expressions, and one has ginger hair. Qualities which are ruthlessly purged from FHM’s parade of near-identical Stepford wank subjects.
Nobody I’ve ever seen really looks like Cheryl Cole, and that includes Cheryl Cole. Yet almost everybody in FHM’s list looks a bit like Cheryl Cole, with only minor variations allowed in age, breast size, body shape or even skin colour: it seems Beyonce marks the acceptable limit of darkness for black people
FHM’s ‘study’ uses a cohort of men self-selected according to their preference for the kind of women who feature in FHM, conditions them with a monthly barrage of images labeled ‘sexy’, and then asks them to name some sexy women. Even if you accepted the bogus premise that sex appeal could be ranked on a universal scale, this would be a rubbish way to do it.
To see just how rubbish, here’s an experiment you can try at home: go to any porn site that ranks its most popular clips, and have a look at the top 100 clips that people actually pay for - the range of outfits, body types, situations, ages and skin colours far exceeds anything you’ll find in FHM’s list. When it comes to what people find sexy, there’s a truth in porn considerably purer than the sterile, manufactured consent of glossy magazines. The predictable industry counter-argument, that lads’ mag editors select cover girls who drive sales, scarcely deserves the effort required to insert a link to recent figures showing their vertiginous downturn in circulation.
Forget political correctness, we live in the era of sexual correctness gone mad. A stream of dubious research - often based more on PR than science - is regurgitated by the press: informing women how much they should weigh (to two decimal places), what their hip-to-waist ratio should be (0.7), how long they should allow their face to grow (“ratio of the length of the face to the width of the face should be 1.6”) and giving much-needed advice on nipple placement (“The ideal is a 45 to 55 per cent proportion - that is the nipple sits not at the half-way mark down the breast, but at about 45 per cent from the top.”).
Sexual correctness is a fundamental failure of journalism, and not just in the moralistic right-wing end of the press. I can’t remember the last time I saw an informed discussion of porn in a mainstream news publication. Many of those touted as ‘sexperts’ simply aren’t; a situation not helped by the craven attitude of bodies like the British Psychological Society. Features on alternative sexual choices, lifestyles or fetishes invariably resort to cheap smirks at the expense of its subjects; while journalists interviewing figures in the adult entertainment industry seem compelled to demand that they justify their ‘aberrant’ behaviour.
All of this. Serious.