Life & Style’s Shiloh Jolie-Pitt Tomboy-Panic Cover Borderline Offensive

TOMBOY PANIC
At what point does media panic regarding Shiloh’s Radical Androgynous Haircut cross over into Officially Offensive Territory? Do we care that Life & Style’s magazine cover, which screams WHY IS ANGELINA TURNING SHILOH INTO A BOY? (our number one feeling on this topic is “we want her sneakers, we wish our parents had given us such a rad tomboy wardrobe”) is… something-phobic? Is it transphobic? Peter-Panaphobic? Homophobic? Awesomephobic?  We couldn’t really care less that it’s the child of our Lady Angelina Jolie, this is inappropriate language to use when talking about anyone’s child!

Admittedly we don’t read or buy these magazines typically so perhaps this is typical fare and were GLAAD or its kin to attack Life & Style on the reg, they’d need a whole new department.

However, our little Google Image Search suggests 80% of Life & Style magazine covers are about someone losing 10-200 pounds, Jennifer Aniston vs. Angelina Jolie, The Kardashians getting married/having a baby, John & Kate Plus 8, Kristen Stewart’s hypothetical relationship with Robert Pattison, someone maybe being pregnant or The Kardashians losing 20 pounds after having a baby. Though all those topics are a waste of trees and brainspace (and reinforce similarly archaic ideas of gender and the female body, though more insidiously so) none of them rub us the wrong way quite like this:

Here’s the rub: Although the print magazine industry is hemmoraging at present, Life & Style isn’t. In 2006, Life & Style was the fastest growing magazine in the country and currently boasts well over a million copies circulated per week. These are the magazines you see at the dentist, hair salon, and on the floor in your shared dorm bathroom under someone’s Caboodles. These headlines scream at you from every grocery store checkout counter.

From the article:

“Shiloh is pushing the boundaries of a tomboy look and crossing over to cross-dresser territory,” Alana Kelen, senior fashion stylist at VH1, tells Life & Style. Celebrity stylist Gili Rashal-Niv agrees. “I get that times are tough but does Angie really need to have Shiloh sharing clothes with her brothers? Hopefully we won’t be seeing Maddox in one of Shiloh’s dresses any time soon.”

AN ACTUAL QUOTE FROM FOCUS ON THE F*CKING FAMILY: “Little girls have never been women before,” Glenn Stanton, director of Family Formation Studies at the conservative organization Focus on the Family, tells Life & Style. “They need help, they need guidance of what that looks like. It’s important to teach our children that gender distinction is very healthy.”

In C.Lynn Carr’s 2007 study “Tomboyism or Lesbianism? Beyond Sex/Gender/Sexual Conflation,” Carr found that the fact that “a large majority of women recalled wanting to be boys (sex) in order to do things that boys got to do (gender) may be testament to the relative powerlessness of children, who are often told how to act and what they can and cannot do by peers, parents, and educators.” In other words — girls “dressing like boys” is less about “adopting another gender” than it is about desiring the power enabled by the other gender.

This is in line with studies which show that although recalled childhood tomboy behaviors are relatively high amongst adult women (between 51% to 67%), less than five percent of adult women identify as tomboys and even fewer as lesbians or transgender.

Regardless, who cares what Shiloh turns out to be — trans, straight, gay, robot — what irks us about this cover is its frightening reinforcement of some of the gender binary’s most damaging assumptions.

The magazine goes on to question why Shiloh & Suri have “such different styles” — I don’t know, because they are different people? Because Suri’s Dad is gay? (JK!) Apparently Joey Potter is not a radical bisexual monster like Angelina, although Joey was quite the tomboy when she still lived on Dawson’s Creek.

What do you think? Problematic, or not worth the time? If you’d like to complain, the PR people for Life & Style are Lindsay Ferraro (LFerraro@bauer-usa.com) and Sarah Drabick (sdrabick@bauer-usa.com) and the editor of Life & Style is Dan Wakeford (DWakeford@bauer-usa.com).

THE NEWS TODAY:
The editor of Pink News UK is totally straight you guys:

I’m straight. There, I said it. I’ve been editing the gay news website Pink News for a year, and people are still shocked to discovered that I’m not actually a lesbian, despite the fact that only one of the website’s last three editors have been gay. Reactions to the discovery of my heterosexuality have ranged from gentle ribbing to disbelief and even occasional anger.

What’s your reaction, kiddos?

PRESIDENTIAL REUNION: Funny Or Die presents “Presidential Reunion,” starring Darrell Hammond as Bill Clinton, Jim Carrey as Ronald Regan, Chevy Chase as President Ford, Dana Carvey as George H.W. Bush, Dan Akroyd as Jimmy Carter, Will Ferrell as George W Bush,  Fred Armisen as Barack Obama and Maya Rudolph as Michelle.

OLYMPICS:
They say that imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, but some ice dancing routines might be verging on the territory of offensive (@racialicious)

SO GAY:
In the words of the revered Better Porter, “An honest homophobe, how nice.”“Just because you didn’t intend a slur to make someone feel vulnerable and unsafe, doesn’t mean it didn’t. Just because your careless, prejudiced language use didn’t intend to offend, trigger or annoy people doesn’t mean it didn’t.” (@womanist musings)

FRAPPES AND FIREARMS:
Apparently peoples have been testing their right to carry guns by wearing their guns into Starbucks across the country“No longer will Starbucks be seen as a safe haven for liberal pussies!” (@gawker)

ABORTION:
Anti-Abortion Groups’ New Tactic: Paint Abortion as Ethnic Cleansing“Latinas and other women of color don’t need to be protected by paternalistic ideologues motivated by a political agenda that disregards the needs of women of color and their families. So thanks for your concern, anti-choicers, but I think the women of color advocates working within the reproductive justice movement have got it covered. We’re working in those clinics you attack, we’re helping to shape policies and provide services in our communities, services that allow us to decide what our needs are.” (@jezebel)

ADVERTISING:
Smoking rates among LGBT people are 200 percent higher than straights and now We’re being targeted by tobacco companies. (@medill)

OUR HOME AND NATIVE LAND:
Gay history and gay rights have been written out of the new study guide for Canada’s citizenship study guide and the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration is getting called out. – “We have fought hard to have our rights recognized, and we will not be censored out of our country’s history.” (@theglobeandmail)

Riese is the 38-year-old Co-Founder and CEO of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, blogger, fictionist, copywriter, video-maker, low-key Jewish power lesbian and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and then headed West. Her work has appeared in nine books including "The Bigger the Better The Tighter The Sweater: 21 Funny Women on Beauty, Body Image & Other Hazards Of Being Female," magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 2842 articles for us.

107 Comments

  1. In response to that anti-abortion group’s campaign: what they’re doing with the billboards may be a new tactic but it’s a rehashing of an old conspiracy theory (“The Negro Project”) and a blatant attack on Planned Parenthood/Margaret Sanger. I perused the website a bit and it’s all drivel. At the top of the Contact Us page, it literally had a graphic of a megaphone with the text “Just Holla!” next to it.

    This brings to mind something I saw recently about Utah criminalizing miscarriages: http://tinyurl.com/yh9x6xk

  2. Pingback: Top Style Blog :) » Autostraddle — Life & Style's Shiloh Jolie-Pitt Tomboy-Panic Cover …

  3. As kids, my sister and I would wear matching clothes whenever we went somewhere as a family. She in skirts and me in shirts. I played on the boy’s soccer team, and wanted to become a ninja or a robot. I loved to dress up in a beautiful dress, though. Still do.
    Kids that age will choose what to wear themselves, within the limits set by their parents. Less limits, more diversity.

  4. Thank you for posting the email address for the PR people of Life & Style. As I saw this cover story on the internet yesterday I found myself really getting upset.
    It’s one thing to target and put on your cover trash about celebrities every week, it’s a completely different story when you start targeting children. Shiloh is a 3 year old child for God’s sake and to use her to sell magazines and with such a vile headline to boot just completely rankled me.
    Shame on Life & Style for sinking to the lowest depths yet.

  5. The media is very good at pitting women against each other and, now, they’re pitting little girls against each other too. Impressively horrifying! I have two kids and it’s an effin’ miracle to get them out of the house every morning in an ensemble that even closely resembles appropriate clothing. My daughter likes to wear Target bags as jumpers. Yeah. So, let’s focus on the magazine and the media response rather than picking apart the girls and their parents.

  6. There are two things I wanted to say –
    .
    1. The circulation of Life & Style magazine is NOT “well over a million copies per week.” That stat you quoted is from 2006. That was four years ago. The last stats from the Audit Bureau of Circulation in February 2010 put L&S at just under 400,000 copies per week. Yes, that’s right, they have lost over 60% of their readers in the last 4 years. With covers and cover stories like this one you can see why. It’s not just the failing economy. It’s the fact that the morons at L&S routinely pull stories out of their collective asses. And not just L&S but their sister publication In Touch Weekly and the other tabloids (US Weekly, Star magazine, OK Weekly, National Enquirer, Globe, etc.) are all struggling for sales. Only People magazine has seen an increase in sales over the last 2 years. The rest of those magazines are floundering big time and American Media, which publishes Star, National Enquirer and The Globe, is constantly two steps away from a Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Life & Style and OK! have both been close to folding on at least 4 occasions each in the last 12 months.

    2. Sad to say, yes, stories like this ARE the norm for L&S and all the tabs. Angelina Jolie has been on the cover of these magazines just under 50% of the time over the course of the last 5 years. Every since she hooked up with Brad Pitt it’s been a steady diet of lies about Angelina Jolie. I’ve lost track of the number of times she’s been pregnant, dumped Brad, they’re getting married, he’s going back to Jennifer Aniston, they’re fighting, his parents hate her, Brad hates her brother, she’s anorexic, Brad’s a drunkard, etc., etc., etc.

    But getting back to poor Shiloh – the child is a favorite target of L&S. In the past they’ve put her on the cover with claims that Jolie hates her, ignores her needs in favor of the adopted children and claims the child is primarily raised by nannies. After Shiloh’s baby picture appeared on the cover of People there was a period when she wasn’t seen in public with the older children. So L&S claimes Jolie was favoring the older kids instead of using common sense and saying that at 6 months Shiloh was a bit too young to sit through a 90 minute animated movie. So what did L&S do? They had a cover proclaiming, “WHY IS ANGELINA HIDING SHILOH?” The story claimed that Shiloh hadn’t been seen in public in X number of days and then speculated that there was something wrong with Shiloh – this in addition to Jolie hating her biological child and favoring the adopted children. They even went so far as to speculate as to what could be wrong with Shiloh to prevent Jolie taking her out in public. The reality was that Jolie and Pitt were simply protecting Shiloh from the paparazzi snapping pictures right in her face like they did with the older children. Whenever the children aren’t seen in public for long periods of time (this 2 weeks in tabloidland, not 2 or 3 months) then the tabloid start speculating that Pitt and Jolie are breaking up and the children are caught between them. Just recently when Jolie & Pitt’s hadn’t been seen in public for a few months L&S (and other tabloids) started claiming the children were sick with the croup and allergies and were frail and overall ill health. It was downright sickening.

    Overall it’s been 5 very long years of insane tabloid bullshit. This lastest L&S cover is just another link in their ch-ch-chain of fools.

  7. Do these people have no conscience? What gets me about this, is that while this child may be three years old and oblivious, at some point she’ll be old enough to google herself, and reading all those ‘panic’ headlines is going to suck. So Future Shiloh if you’re reading this: Hi! What’s the future like? Does Lady Gaga rule the world yet? Just wanted you to know that i think you’re three year old self was rockin’ that look. Way to go!

  8. One time I tried to leave my house in tights and a giant t-shirt because I was too tall & skinny to find leggings that fit me like leggings are supposed to and all the other girls were wearing leggings and I wanted to wear leggings so I wore my red wool tights and I got like one step out the door before my Mom got mad at me and made me come back inside and put on shoes.

    I think that’s the only time she ever told me what to wear, but she also dressed me and my brother identically in unisex duds so she wouldn’t lose us in a crowd. Of course my grandparents & etc were horrified that I looked like a boy, but I liked it because passing for male meant i could do stuff girls couldn’t do.

  9. Pingback: All Girls Must Wear Dresses…

  10. LOL come on!! I was the same as shiloh at her age. Didn’t like walt-disney princess movies and I cried every time my mom tried to make me wear a dress… the reason: I have 2 older brothers, so I had 2 options, play dolls alone or play boy stuff with them.
    With the time, I started being girly! and I’m really girly. But still don’t like to wear dresses.

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