The tabloid has been accused by many of sexism after it compared the Scottish First Minister and British Prime Minister’s legs rather than focusing on their meeting about the process that will see the UK leave the European Union.
The leaders met for an hour in Glasgow on Monday to discuss a second referendum on Scottish independence and the triggering of Article 50 on Wednesday.
While the front page was titled “Forget about Brexit, who won Legs-it!”, inside the paper, a headline read: “Finest weapons at their command? Those pins”.
A piece written by Sarah Vine, long-time columnist and wife of Conservative politician Michael Gove, referred to Ms Sturgeon’s legs as “altogether more flirty, tantalisingly crossed, a direct attempt at seduction”.
The front page drew immediate criticism from politicians, commentators and members of the public after it first appeared on Twitter on Monday night. Conservative MP and former Education Minister Nicky Morgan accused the paper of “appalling sexism”.
“Seriously? Our two most senior female politicians are judged for their legs not what they said #appallingsexism,” Ms Morgan said.
Labour MP Yvette Cooper joked that the clocks had “gone forward this weekend, not 50 years back”, while former Labour Leader Ed Miliband wrote the “1950s called and asked for their headline back”.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn argued such representations of women should be relegated to history, saying: “It's 2017. This sexism must be consigned to history. Shame on the Daily Mail”.
Theresa May in quotes
Theresa May in quotes
1/10 On being described by the former chancellor Ken Clarke as “a bloody difficult woman”:
“Politics could do with some Bloody Difficult Women actually”
2/10 On keeping secrets even from her husband:
“There are some things I am told that I am not able to confide in anybody”
3/10 On the relentless focus on her appearance during a speech at the Women in the World summit:
"I like clothes and I like shoes. One of the challenges for women in the workplace is to be ourselves and I say you can be clever and like clothes. You can have a career and like clothes”
4/10 On comparisons to Margaret Thatcher:
“I think there can only ever be one Margaret Thatcher. I’m not someone who naturally looks to role models. I’ve always, whatever job it is I’m doing at the time, given it my best shot. I put my all into it, and try to do the best job I can”
5/10 On her rebelliousness, or lack of, as a teenager:
“I probably was Goody Two Shoes at school”
6/10 On being replaced as chairman by Lord Saatchi and Liam Fox in 2003:
“Yes, it takes two men to step into the shoes of one woman”
7/10 What Theresa May said when she was asked about her political ambitions during an interview with Miriam González Durántez, a lawyer married to Nick Clegg, in December:
MD: "My very last question is: that little girl who is somewhere there, is she dreaming of becoming the next British Prime Minister?" TM: "She’s dreaming of carrying on doing a good job in the Home Office"
8/10 On not being able to have children:
“I like to keep my personal life personal. We couldn’t have children, we dealt with it and moved on. I hope nobody would think that mattered; I can still empathise, understand people and care about fairness and opportunity”
9/10 On whether she can deliver the mandate of the EU referendum:
“I think for party members and indeed for others, I would say look at my record. I think they can see that I’m somebody who gets on with the job, but I’m also somebody who says it as I see it and actually delivers on what I say”
10/10 On the equally relentless obsession with her shoes:
“As a woman I know you can be very serious about something and very soberly dressed add a little bit of interest with footwear. I always tell women ‘you have to be yourself, don’t assume you have to fit into a stereotype’ and if your personality is shown through your clothes or shoes, so be it”
A row about the front page also erupted on the Radio 4’s Today Programme. While Catherine Mayer, co-founder of the Women’s Equality Party argued the page undermined and sexualised women, Angela Epstein, a Daily Mail columnist herself, insisted there was nothing wrong with it and that men were also scrutinised for their appearances.
Ms Mayer said: “What a typical Daily Mail gambit. Not only to ignore the fact that one of the reasons we ended up with Brexit was the sidelining of women but then when women are in there attempting to wrestle some workable solution to then sideline, sexualise and minimise them”.
Ms Mayer criticised the paper for including a piece by Vine and argued this was an example of pitting women against women.
But Ms Epstein defended the UK’s second biggest-selling paper and said she was “bored of Daily Mail bashing”.
She said: “I think these women know exactly what they’re doing. Both Theresa May and Nicola Sturgeon have done photo shoots for Vogue.
“They both understand that clothes are a tool by which we can communicate who we are. Anybody who is in the public eye will be scrutinised for their appearance, just as we scrutinise Jeremy Corbyn, Ed Miliband and Michael foot. There has been a litany of male politicians who have been criticised for their lack of professional appearance.”
Ms Mayer responded: “This isn’t treating women about professionals this is treating two national leaders as unlikely sex symbols the point about that it's meant to diminish their power.
“The media frames all women and the things we talk about via our appearance and a set of very reductive ideas.”
The Daily Mail has been contacted for comment.Reuse content