Georgina Guedes

She won Wimbledon, but is she pretty?

2013-07-12 06:00

Georgina Guedes

Women have to put up with a lot. After she won Wimbledon, Marion Bartoli had to deal with queries about comments made by BBC presenter John Inverdale about her looks.

He said, "Do you think Bartoli's dad told her when she was little: 'You're never going to be a looker, you'll never be a Sharapova, so you have to be scrappy and fight'?”

That's just downright mean. Not the least of which, because she’s actually an attractive woman – just not blonde. But even if she weren’t, it’s still not a relevant thing to discuss when someone’s busy winning Wimbledon.

And of course, all of this was busy happening just before various commentators proclaimed that Andy Murray was the first Briton to win Wimbledon in 77 years, when actually Virginia Wade won the women’s title only 36 years ago. It’s as if the women’s tennis is some sort of sideshow to the main performance.

This week, a friend of mine also shared a surprisingly moving video clip with me. In it, Dustin Hoffman discusses his role as Tootsie, and how he said he wouldn’t do it if he looked like a man in drag – he had to be able to walk down the street as a believable woman.

The makeup team went to work on him and showed the results. He was satisfied that he would look like a woman, but asked if they could do something to make him an attractive woman. No dice, they told him. That’s as good as it gets.

And as he sat there in the studio, he had an epiphany – one that moved him to tears. As far as he was concerned, he’d make a pretty interesting woman, but because she was unattractive, he, as a man, wouldn’t give herself – the woman – the time of day. He mourned the loss of all the wonderful women he as missing out on the chance to encounter because of the way that society judges attractiveness first.

I can just visualise the comments that women objectify men as well, and I’ll acknowledge that we do. We like to look at good-looking men. We also like to look at good-looking women. But men are judged by their endeavours and achievements first, whereas women are frequently discounted for not being good looking, no matter what else they’re achieving.

"Look at her winning Wimbledon – d'ya think she's good at tennis because she's not a Barbie doll?"

What rot.

The BBC has apologised for Inverdale’s comment, as they should have. But this does little to change the prevailing view that women are somehow inferior, and their achievements are only add-ons to their beauty.

- Georgina Guedes is a freelance writer. You can follow @georginaguedes on Twitter.

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