Last week was pretty long, so I was looking forward to crashing when I got home. But after traipsing the few steps to our apartment hallway, a vise grip on my bike, the first thing that greeted me on the way up the stairs was a half-naked image of Jennifer Aniston, steam-rolled by text.
That couldn’t be our mail, could it? But I’m the only one with a magazine subscription in the household. So in my usual arabesque – bike to the right, back kick to the door and my free hand reaching out – I grabbed the mail and powered up to the second floor.
Hot pink block letters. Helvetica. “100% Natural,” read the headline. Nearly uninterrupted on the front cover were two half-spheres of flesh, shot so close that you could see the marbling of microcreases and pores.
I didn’t take the magazine out of the packaging for three days. I can’t flip to the table of content without an acrid taste welling up in my mouth.
That cover story was about an innovation in tissue engineering and how it stems from breasts. The loose theme of the issue: artificiality**. And yet I can’t feel anything but dismay with Wired Magazine, a publication I respect and read routinely on the Web and in print. It was probably how it was juxtaposed next to the GQ subscription outsert (“The ultimate guide for today’s man”). Now that I think about it, since I began receiving the mag, three of the four issues have been cover shots of or stories by men. Whatever it was, this specific coupling spoke to me, and it said Wired is a man’s magazine.
It’s too easy to say the cover was meant to elicit such a reaction, to provoke, because breasts are hardly a statement anymore. What was going through the editors’ minds? Were they counting on instinctive knowledge from their international audience that October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (not stated in the release notes)? There are far more elegant ways to set the tone. And because Wired was not sensitive enough in packaging the advert going out with this issue, the front cover doubly smacked of prurience and manipulation.
As a woman who is highly attuned to technology, I was stunned. And indescribably disappointed. Here was the old reminder that so many issues, marketing and science included, are played out over a woman’s body, that the female figure is a battleground.
I expected more from you, Wired.
*Image of Rihanna used for GQ’s cover**Erratum (Nov. 18): Page 99 tells us November’s theme is actually redemption.