My friend and corporate colleague Barbara Kay had a point about the choice of Vanity Fair’s cover picture of Caitlyn Jenner: The “Playboy-style corset” probably wasn’t the best picture to use.
But Barbara may have got it wrong by blaming Caitlyn for the cover photo: usually, editors make the decision on which ones to use on the cover and inside with the article, not the subject of the story. I’m betting an editor decided to go with the corset shot on the cover, not Caitlyn — who may not have even known which photo was chosen.
Personally, as a longtime editor with a mainstream paper, I would not have used that particular picture on the cover. I would have gone with the picture of Caitlyn in the red dress and sunglasses, seated in her car. The picture made it look like she was arriving somewhere, and was about to emerge from her car — very symbolic of her journey.
But, hey, different editors see things different ways.
Barbara objected to that corset photo in her column on the National Post site. She thinks Caitlyn is sexist, and she can’t understand how Caitlyn — at the age of 65 — would allow an underwear picture of herself to appear in such a forum.
Says Barbara: “A natal woman who wished to be taken seriously as an athlete or businesswoman or anything beyond a sex object would wear a classy pair of slacks and a crisp shirt, or a smart little black dress, or a power suit, or a cashmere sweater and jeans. And, yeah, pearls, why not? In other words, a look that suggests a rounded life, brains and interests beyond her sex life. But I’m guessing that since she missed out on looking sexy when looking sexy would have been appropriate, Caitlyn couldn’t resist realizing the fantasy.”
On the latter point, Barbara is probably right: Caitlyn did miss out on so much in her life. I think a lot of gender-transitioning women can relate to that: no matter how old they are, when they start “coming out,” there is often a “Look at me in all these sexy clothes!” stage, much like what some teenage girls experience.
But most trans women get through that stage. They get it out of their system, and settle into appropriate attire in due time.
Still, that controversial corset photo may have done more collateral damage to Caitlyn’s credibility than good, and you would think that her advisers might have twigged to that before.
Meanwhile, there are reports that some members of Caitlyn’s family are upset with her.
“She is living for the spotlight now, whereas she always used to hate it,” one insider reportedly said, according to a Yahoo report.
Barbara Kay also noted this: “(Caitlyn) is getting precisely the attention she wants.”
I suppose it might be annoying for some family members to see Caitlyn suddenly become the (sexual) object of so much attention, but ultimately, it is Caitlyn’s life. She is very much a part of the celebrity scene in L.A. In seeking to be in the spotlight, she is no different than so many other celebrities in that town. Who are we to judge?
No doubt, as Caitlyn settles into her new life, she will become more of a spokesperson for transgender rights. She has already started to speak out. And she will do it in her own way, using the opportunities that have been handed to her by fate, like so many other LGBT advocates and activists are doing.
Not all of us get the opportunity — or want it — to appear on the covers of Vanity Fair and Time or as guests on talk shows, but we can all contribute in our own ways to the common goal of winning equality for LGBT people around the world.
Welcome Caitlyn to the team. Give her time to spread her wings and soar.
— Jillian Page, LGBT Perspectives editor
Let harmlessness be the keynote of your life. – Alice Bailey