How Far is Too Far?


glee01There has been a lot of talk in the last week regarding a photo shoot for GQ featuring three of the stars of Glee.  It is a risque shoot with the three stars who play high school students being shot in very provocative poses in character.  The outrage has been swift and loud.  As usual, if the detractors just kept their mouths shut, very few people would have seen the pictures, but now everyone is looking.  If you haven’t seen them (and want to), check them out here.

Most of the arguments, for and against, have been pretty standard:

  • Sexualizing young people
  • This is a men’s magazine so of course the women are going to look sexier than the man
  • Our society is going to hell in a handbasket because women are being depicted in sexual situations
  • It’s up to parents to monitor what their kids see

Even Canadian radio got in on the debate.  On Q they had two people (a man and a very angry woman) talking about the shoot specifically and sexuality in general.  They got a lot of comments on the blog, including one from polediva (me).  Listen to the interview and read the comments here.

Even if some of the photos went a little far (I’m not easily shocked, but some of these pics are pretty racey!) what it boils down to is several things:

  • Although these actors play teens, they are in the twenties.  Yes, they are in character for the photos which can be debated back and forth as to whether that’s appropriate. In the end, they are adults.  They get to make their own decisions.
  • Sexuality is a hot button topic. Yes, women have been taken advantage of and abused throughout history.  Now we are taking back our power around our sexuality.  I don’t know how Lea and Diana felt during the shoot (Diana did post an insightful blog on her thoughts).  If they had fun and felt empowered, who am I or anyone else to say it’s bad?  If they felt used and degraded then they had every right to say stop.  Our power is as much in our saying yes to our sexuality as it is to saying no to what doesn’t work for us.  For those who hate photos of this type, that’s their comfort level and their right to stay away from it.  To those who like it, as long as it’s not used to make women less, then that’s cool too.  When we own what really works for us as INDIVIDUALS and don’t push our morality and standards on others, we will ALL be in our sexual power.
  • The woman in the Q interview said that the “ugly girls” from the show weren’t included in the shoot.  I almost smashed my radio when I heard that!  For those of you who haven’t seen the show, the girls in the pictures are the female stars of the show.  The other women in the show are of varying ethnicity, weights and so on.  NONE of them are ugly!   I choose to believe that they chose the stars because they are just that – the stars – not because they are slim and white.  If that’s not the case, then the photographer needs a slap.  But calling the other girls ugly is unforgivable!
  • Many talk about how Cory (the man) is in regular clothes and not doing anything overtly sexual except enjoying the presence of these two women.  Well, come on, he’s a straight testosterone driven man of course he’s enjoying their company!  Let’s face it, if the roles were reversed and he was the one in his boxers bent over the bench being smacked by one of the girls in jeans and t-shirt the outrage would not have occurred at all or not to anywhere near the same degree.
  • Glee has been called a “tween” show.  I beg to differ.  Everyone I know that watches Glee is an adult.  The show explores very mature themes such as death, homosexuality, teen pregnancy and bullying.  I’m not saying that kids don’t watch the show – or shouldn’t.  They should be watching it WITH their parents, though, as those themes will need some discussion just as the photo spread does.  Parents, take on the role and talk to your kids about these difficult things rather than trying to hide from them.  You know they’ll find out about it somehow!

In the end I say just relax people.  We are all welcome to our own impressions and opinions about this photo spread and any other piece of media that portrays sex.  But come on already!  Sex is part of life.  It’s a damn fun part of life.  Let people express it in ways that work for them.  As long as their intentions are for expression and not exploitation (which we can’t judge from the outside) then it’s all good.

The whole kafuffle any time a woman expresses herself in a sexual or sensual way is precisely why we need to keep doing so! Whether it’s Mylie Cyrus dancing on a pole or Lea Michelle sucking on a red lollipop, if it’s something that they enjoy and find empowering, do more of it!

Once women truly own their authentic sexual power, whatever that looks like for each individual, and everyone stops being so freaked out by it, the world will be a very different place.

Then we can own Be Beautiful, Be YOU! in all aspects of our lives.


  1. IMHO I think that the publicists put a lot of thought in this to create a “shock” factor to increase sales. Yes, sex is a hot topic and what better way to create a reaction? They are of majority age, not hurting anyone so what is the big… deal? If you’re sucked into the “OMG it’s disgusting” shock value then why did you buy it in the first place?

  2. Christie,

    We wholeheartedly agree… if we’re expressing ourselves in a way that empowers us, then go for it!! And no one should feel they’re “forced” to do anything… if this is the case, then definitely saying “no” is the way to go.

    As you said, some of the pictures were a bit racey, but offensive? We don’t think so. And you’re right… it’s up to us as parents to be honest and upfront with these topics. They are not something to be left for chance.

    Thanks for allowing us this space to share our thoughts,
    ~ Pat and Lorna

  3. I have to agree on all counts. Sexuality is natural, suppressing it and trying to make everyone fit into a mold is unnatural. THey are legal adults and can choose to pose. I think it’s fun. All the power to them.

  4. Okay, so i don’t watch Glee…except the excerpts from the Rocky Horror Picture Shows cause I LOVE RHPS! Many of my friend (all ADULTS) watch Glee. My 14 year old daughter does not, her friends do not. I agree Christie, these are adults in an adult magazine…leave them alone. I LOVE the pics…I LOVE GQ (i read it for the articles LOL) Get over it people.

  5. Franki could not log in and asked that I relay this comment. I do so with pleasure…

    I just find it odd that, in order for the women to be seen as sexy, the photographer felt it necessary to infantalize them. Granted, the show is about high school kids, but it seemed that that the photographer chose to depict female sexuality in a very tired, cliche way. I know that GQ is a men’s magazine … but any sort of media has the option of at least tweaking the status quo, even if they don’t feel like discomfiting their readers by challenging it outright. I don’t see what the big deal over the photo shoot is, either – personally, I just found it disappointing to see that women are still depicted in the same, boring ways that have been made famous by the likes of Penthouse, Hustler, etc. Nothing is wrong with skin, sexuality or sensuality – but there is something wrong with being boring and trite.

    If the photographer had had more imagination, the photo shoot could still have been sexy and perhaps, might have opened up the minds of the GQ readers to the possibility of a woman being sexy without being portrayed as a doe-eyed innocent.”

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