I’d say fuck Maxim and their “hottest” lists, but this is actually a pretty useful illustration of how women can’t win when it comes to beauty contests, and how male rankings are used to beat us over the head. SJP is a talented actress and a successful businesswoman. She is, by most standards, a beautiful woman — she’s even played one on TV. And still, a stupid ratings game in a magazine has caused her “significant pain.”
That isn’t a sign of personal weakness on her part; it’s a recognition that “ugly” is one of the worst slurs you can throw at a woman (and especially one whose career largely depends on her being perceived as attractive). Maxim’s Unsexiest award also serves as a way of keeping other women in line — if even someone as famous and lovely as Sarah Jessica Parker isn’t sexy enough (because of her long face? her age? her refusal to stay in the role of the vapid pretty girl? her business sense? her stable personal life?), where does that leave the “real” women who date Maxim’s target audience?
And what does it say to the men who read Maxim, who are supposed to be chuckling at the idea of a successful woman taken down a peg because she’s not hot enough?
Maybe I’m reading too much into a stupid Maxim article — after all, it’s not exactly a magazine known for its intellectual articles or its evolved readership. But it’s this shit that sends the constant message to women that you aren’t good enough, and that where men rate you on the sexy scale is of utmost importance — or that it should even matter at all.