Beauty uses her brains to win over Oxford Union: Marianne Macdonald listens as Jerry Hall quotes Socrates, Milton and her mother on exploiting your assets
Friday 18 June 1993
In the packed chamber she sat with Miss World (Julia Kurochkina), Melissa Bell (Lucy from Neighbours) and Mick Jagger. She wore a skintight, low-cut metallic dress, and the undergraduates' reaction suggested she had won the debate before it had even started.
Opposing the motion 'This House believes it is the duty of everyone to exploit their assets, be they brains, beauty or brawn' were Louise Bagshawe, feminist and author; Mike Maloney, photographer of the year; and David Thomas, former editor of Punch.
Proposing the motion was Pete Gowers, secretary of the Union, who commended Melissa Bell as 'the only character in Neighbours to have a surfboard named after her - because she's good for a ride, but not much else.'
His opponents rolled out arguments including the examples of Asil Nadir, George Walker and Robert Maxwell as proof that exploitation of brains could lead, in the words of the Bible, to wailing and gnashing of teeth.
But the proposers had looks on their side. Julia Kuroch kina, to huge applause, argued that beauty could get women jobs as air hostesses and secretaries, or into interviews 'when they could then show their skills'.
Melissa Bell said: 'Journalists want to exploit me, so why shouldn't I exploit my assets?'
But the star of the evening was always going to be Jerry Hall. The supermodel had clearly done her research, citing in her 'if you've got it, flaunt it' argument sources as diverse as Milton, Socrates, Michelangelo, Helen of Troy and even Pasteur.
'My mother said to me when young you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar,' she drawled. 'I learned early on quite how far looks can get you. Why shouldn't we use our beauty?'
Causing ecstasy in the chamber, the supermodel then applauded the fact that her audience all had 'good brains - some great bodies too', leaving only Mr Thomas to give her a run for her money.
'Jerry Hall once said a woman should be a great cook in the kitchen, a whore in bed and something else I've forgotten in the living room,' he said. 'Aside from the fact you might get confused and start quoting recipes in bed I can't agree. On this basis we could hardly be surprised if you were dropped for a better cook.'
Jerry Hall looked unruffled. After all, Mick Jagger was beside her, proving that even fading supermodels can have the last laugh: as she certainly did when her side won the debate by 394 votes to 283.
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