Women need mouthy Hilary Mantel not flawless Kate Middleton



You've got to love the cover of the new Chinese Harper's Bazaar magazine, which has done more to expose the airbrusher's art than many years of "real beauty" campaigns could. It shows a photograph of Sarah Jessica Parker, only it's more of a drawing than a photograph, painted with Photoshop by someone who clearly needed a bit of a screen break. Poor Ms Parker has been given crazy, turquoise, alien eyes, and cheekbones you could slice ham on. If supermodel perfection isn't good enough for these people, why don't they draw a cartoon?

It's been a bit of a week for the airbrushing of women, all told. It started with Nadine Dorries papering over 100 years of feminist history by claiming to be equivalent to a persecuted Suffragette, all because people want to know how she spends her expenses.

Then we saw the clumsy retouching of the words of a brilliant writer, when commentators took a nuanced speech by Hilary Mantel about royal consorts and Tippexed out all the shades of grey. Thus, an excoriating depiction of how the latest royal Madonna-figure is served up to us by the media, "the spindles of her limbs hand-turned and gloss-varnished", became, in effect, "Jealous bitch slams Kate Middleton!"

Until then, the airbrushing of women had been largely done by other women, but at least Harriet Harman is attempting to shine a light on the sisters (or the lack thereof on the telly) with an audit, as we report today. Perhaps she will join my personal campaign to get Judith Hann and Maggie Philbin back on our screens.

We might, however, not have any future Hanns and Philbins if Lego gets its way. The company has decided that girls can't play with dumper trucks and Millennium Falcons, so they've created special pink bricks for girls, to make beauty parlours and ponies instead. It may be patronising and offensive, but it's made Lego millions of quid, so that's good news.

If there's anyone who could do anything about the rude shutting-up of half the population, you'd think it would be the Prime Minister, but David Cameron pitched in last week in all the wrong ways. He castigated Mantel for her words, which he obviously hadn't read, and insisted that perfect, blank-canvas Kate – not gobby Hilary – is the model to which we should all aspire. At the same time, he said he's right behind women, because his wife nags him over there not being enough of them in the Cabinet, and really that is a terrible thing. If only he could do something about it, you might think, but to be fair he is only in charge of the entire country.

Samantha, dear, please go on at him a bit more about finding some decent women who can read, write and speak up for themselves. Perhaps Judith Hann might be available.


React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Marketing & PR Assistant - NW London

£15 - £17 per hour: Ashdown Group: Marketing & PR Assistant - Kentish Town are...

Senior Network Integration/Test Engineer

£250 - £300 per day: Orgtel: Senior Network Integration/Test Engineer Berkshir...

Software Developer - Newcastle - £30,000 - £37,000 + benefits

£30000 - £37000 per annum + attractive benefits: Ashdown Group: .NET Developer...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...

Day In a Page

Read Next

The truth about kids on holiday

Rosie Millard

August catch-up: Waiting on the telephone, tribute to Norm and my Desert Island Discs

John Rentoul
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home