FHM’s Top 100 Sexiest Women Epitomises Female Objectification

Numerous inspiring females are making waves across the globe in their professions, from business, politics, journalism and academia, to acting, music, photography and art. So why does the majority of the media STILL only recognise women for their appearance? FHM UK’s infamous “100 Sexiest Women” list has been released for 2014 with Jennifer Lawrence ranked as number one, joining her in the top 10 are the likes of Lucy Mecklenburg, Michelle Keegan and last year’s winner Mila Kunis.

The popular list which grades famous women on their looks started back in 1995, when model Claudia Schiffer first won the title. Since then the ‘award’ has been won by J Lo, Britney Spears and Cheryl Cole to name but a few. Anna Kournikova is so far the only athlete to win the award and Halle Berry the only African American woman. All the other victors have been actresses, models or singers. But what are the contenders graded on in order to make it into the notorious list? Take Jennifer Lawrence for example; in 2014 alone she was nominated for an Oscar, won a Golden Globe and a Bafta, to name just a few or her achievements, but none of this was mentioned in the “timeline of her year” on FHM. Instead her bio described her performance in American Hustle as “out-cleavaging Amy Adams,” rather than the fact she was nominated for an Oscar in the role. And how she’s “just so loveable” and “a big clumsy Klutz,” rather than noting her stunning feats as an actress which have climaxed in her 2014 award success, after being virtually unknown in the industry before 2011.

Why is her anatomy and her ditzy, loveable personality what she is being recognised for, rather than her successful career? For the last 10 years Forbes magazine has published “The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women.” However, I am ashamed to say I didn’t know this existed until I decided to search for an alternative to FHM’s derogative categorisation. Describing it as their “annual snapshot of the 100 women with the most impact…top politicians and CEOs, activist billionaires and celebrities who matter.” The list includes influential females such as Oprah Winfrey and Hilary Clinton who were included in its inauguration back in 2004, to newcomers such as the South Korean President Park Geun-hye. So why doesn’t this get the same media hype as FHM’s 100 Sexiest Women? Or even as Time Magazine’s Top 100 Most Influential People in the World? Hilary Clinton’s inspiring concession speech of 2008 spoke of the attempt to break the glass ceiling which is holding back women in society and how it now contains “18 million cracks…and the light is shining through like never before, filling us all with the hope and the sure knowledge that the path will be a little easier next time.”  Yet six years later has a lot changed? Is the path any easier? Girls as young as 5 are worrying about their weight (APPG Report 2012) and 87% of teenage girls are unhappy with their body shape (Bliss magazine survey 2004).

Yet FHM’s 100 Sexiest Women and other belittling rankings, such as the Maxim Hot 100, continue to take a central role in the media, demonstrating how women’s place in society is still heavily based in appearance rather than their accomplishment. You could argue that these lists aren’t aimed at female readers so why does it matter? That is precisely why it matters. As male magazine readerships have dwindled over the last few years the popularity of these Top 100 lists don’t seem to correlate. The hysteria when FHM dropped their list last night was evident, with the site crashing a number of times as men were scrambling to get a look at the hottest females in world for 2014. If males in society are continually exposed to information telling them that women are merely for ogling, rather than respecting, how do we ever expect society to progress? But clearly this female objectification doesn’t just affect the male population.

Women who are constantly exposed to images of perfectly toned, tanned and skinny models in the media will in turn self-objectify their own bodies, leading to society as a whole perpetuating the idea that worth is based on merely beauty. When I questioned on twitter if there was a “Top 100 Most Successful Women” list to counter FHM’s the male response was (on the whole) disheartening. Responses such as “boring” and “who would want to read that?!” were shot back. The problem is why some males (and females) have developed this opinion which is what needs to be addressed. Considering the media is still heavily dominated by male editors and publication owners it’s no wonder women are still primarily represented in this shallow, degrading light.

By Lizzie Roberts

[Image Credit: Alexis Silva]


17 thoughts on “FHM’s Top 100 Sexiest Women Epitomises Female Objectification

  1. There are women magazines publishing the top of sexiest men like Cosmopolitan or Glamour. What’s your point?

    • I think they’re just as derogatory as the women’s lists but no where near as frequent or recognised in the media. FHMs and maxims ones for example are huge and get so much attention. Also men are portrayed far better in the media on a whole than women, whatever a woman is in the media for reference will always be made to her appearance but this rarely happens with men

      • I’m sorry but that’s just not true. I mean for one thing he can name two, while you can only name one. They actually have magazines for teenage girls which are basically about how cute justin bieber/one direction are, along with talking about make-up etc. And what about people magazine’s sexiest man alive? That’s incredibly famous and gets a lot of attention.
        Men are constantly scrutinized for their weight/height/looks etc. You think a man could be in a movie or be a successful musician if he was ugly? They are maybe scrutinised less for their clothes because women care about other women’s clothes, but not other men’s.
        Look, if we want to have a movement, let’s just have a movement to stop objectifying people because of their looks. We don’t need to make it about gender because we both know there is no inequality (although there could be an argument made that there is inequality in that men are more objectified for their looks) and to focus on it as an equality issue misses the point.

      • I’m from the UK so we don’t have people magazine and I did mention glamours top 100 sexiest men list but it’s nowhere near as publicised as FHMs.
        Yeah I do think about the average age of a male movie star compared to his female counterpart .. Look at this for reference http://www.vulture.com/m/2013/04/leading-men-age-but-their-love-interests-dont.html
        How can you say there is no inequality?! When women are still paid on average 20% less than men in their lives there’s still never been a female president and only 22% of Westminster is female? How can you deny fact?

  2. well who is to blame? FHM for publishing these pictures and lists? or the many models and actressses who relish being included because they see it as a positive career move or good publicity? FHM are a small cog in the big wheel that is the ‘glamour’ industry, which includes print media, film, pop music, fashion and tv which has created it’s own rules for what beauty is because it’s convinced that is what sells and guess what – it does sell! The whole industry, like any other, is after your hard earned ££ and I’m sorry to say you help support that, unless you can tell me that you have never been to the cinema, downloaded music or bought a newspaper or magazine? We are not still in the dark ages, women do have free will and an ability to choose, as do we, if society rejects this ‘objectification’ then there will be no more films, magazines, fashion industry etc as we know it and the industry will have to change to survive. And what of our stars and celebrities? they are focused, driven and determined to get to the top of their industry and if that means ‘glamming it up’ then so be it and I suspect their wage slips would make us blush, if models, actresses, singers etc object to being potrayed in this way then they have to power to change it, refuse to attend film premieres in the latest versace and go in jeans and t-shirt instead? refuse to do photo shoots wearing virtually nothing? or simply walk away and follow a more meaningful career path such as medicine, politics or law or they could becomes farmers or poets? Or simply sit with a beer, chill out and enjoy the sunset.
    Anyway who buys these magazines anyway? a few spotty teens or mid 20s that are hanging on to the last drops of youth before they grow up and realise how childish they have been, fall in love and discover what really matters in life. No man of my genreation (I’ll leave you to guess) buys into this false idea of beauty. My wife is beautiful, not because she is size 0 or swans around in her pants (she doesn’t, just to be clear) but because she is funny, intelligent, warm and caring and the mother of my children. You’ll do well to remember that chaps like me are everywhere, and I’ve never opened a copy of FHM.

  3. More absolutely pointless and unfounded feminist drivel from a site/author that has become almost a parody of itself. Agree with the above comments, this article is shameful.

    • how is it pointless or unfounded? and how is the site a parody? you may not agree with the article but it doesn’t make it “shameful” nor is it “feminist drivel” all the facts used are backed up and true. some people just wont accept the truth that sexism still exists and is worse today more than ever.

  4. Whether it’s the American or the British spelling, it is still the same word and the same meaning. Commending the author for correcting the article title. What’s life without a few mistakes and learning from them eh?

  5. You say that 20% inequality in pay is shocking and unfair, whereas I think that’s actually not as bad as you’d expect when consider the following:
    Go to a social work lecture, an english lit lecture, an art lecture, what is the gender split? Then go to an engineering lecture, or finance, or physics, and then tell me that all this inequality is caused by the media.
    Then name me a career path taken more by women than by men, which you would regard as ‘well paid’.
    Add on top of that the probability of a woman giving up work for 5+ years to raise a child or two, and 20% doesn’t sound too bad.

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