Yes, two of the female cast members of Glee pranced around in revealing clothing during a photo shoot for GQ’s November issue. Yes, the Parents Television Council freaked out. But how do the women themselves feel about showing their scantily-clad lady bits to America? Lea Michele has yet to make a statement about the photos, despite the fact that she is certainly the most, um, exposed of all three cast members. But Dianna Agron, the beautiful 24-year-old blond who plays Quinn Fabray, has spoken out against the photos in a post on her blog. In it, she says, “these photos do not represent who I am.”
Agron assures her readers that she’s not speaking for anyone but herself when she writes:
In the land of Madonna, Britney, Miley, Gossip Girl, other public figures and shows that have pushed the envelope and challenged the levels of comfort in their viewers and fans…we are not the first. Now, in perpetuating the type of images that evoke these kind of emotions, I am sorry. If you are hurt or these photos make you uncomfortable, it was never our intention. And if your eight-year-old has a copy of our GQ cover in hand, again I am sorry. But I would have to ask, how on earth did it get there?
A fair question, and one that she answers herself later in the post, saying, “I understand that in today’s world of advanced technology, the internet, our kids can be subject to very adult material at the click of a button. But there are parental locks, and ways to get around this.” True. While there’s no reason for a child to see the November GQ cover – or what’s inside the issue – online, children will certainly see it on newsstands October 26, though why kids would be paying attention to that sort of thing, I don’t know. When my daughter and I are out running errands, she’s usually too busy looking at some abstract corner of the ceiling, trying to make pictures out of the cracks, to notice the cover of a magazine. Then again, I was raised a lot like Agron, who admits she grew up sheltered and “did not even understand what on earth Rizzo was talking about” when she was finally allowed to watch Grease. The phrase “Rizzo’s got a bun in the oven” had absolutely no effect on me, and I’m trying to raise my daughter much in the same way.
But I, too, am an entertainer, and I understand Agron’s sentiment when she explains, “For GQ, they asked us to play very heightened versions of our school characters. A Hit Me Baby One More Time’ version. At the time, it wasn’t my favorite idea, but I did not walk away.” Getting – and keeping – a job in the entertainment industry is a precarious process, and that struggle can leave you feeling as if you’ve got to do anything to make it work. It’s easy to imagine that at 24-years-old, it would be difficult for a young woman to say, “I’m sorry, I don’t feel comfortable being this naked.” In fact, I think people all over the industry probably bank on that sort of thing. Agron may have exploited herself in these photos, but that doesn’t mean someone else wasn’t exploiting her vulnerability as well.
It’s important to note, I think, that Agron feels a lot of guilt over sexualizing herself, despite the fact that her castmate Lea Michele’s photos are much, much racier than hers. I looked at the photos for the first time today, and even I was shocked. I don’t consider myself a prude, but I can’t stand imagery that makes grown women look like sexy children, especially when I know the subject of the image is such a bright young girl. I’ve said before, I don’t think the hypersexualization of women is feminist – and Agron makes it clear in her response to the GQ experience that she feels a bit cheap and used.
NPR’s Linda Holmes hits the nail on the head when she asks, “What do these particular photos say? They say, ‘Sure, these girls are sexy, but you know what would be really sexy? If they were dumber. If they were weaker. If they were more desperate.’”
Agron seems to feel in her gut that these photos are a bit too over-the-top to be promoting a show like Glee, but she acknowledges that taking pictures like those in the GQ spread are just part of the work. “These aren’t photos I am going to frame and put on my desk, but hey, nor are any of the photos I take for magazines,” she writes. “Those are all characters we’ve played for this crazy job, one that I love and am so fortunate to have, each and every day.”