Not surprisingly, part of the contention is over the fact that the list comes off as super-sexist and antifeminist. I mean, ranking women according to their looks? Congratulating them on jumping a few spots in the FHM hierarchy of hotness? C'mon, now.
Throngs of readers took to social media to weigh in on the rankings. Said Marko Milicevic, "You know what's sexy? Intelligence...not curves and cleavage." Echoed Natalia Descartes, "These lists should be abolished. They're so 2,00-no one cares."
Or, my personal favorite:
It's so good that FHM let us know the 100 sexiest women. Otherwise how else would us other 3,526,078,591 women know where we stand?— Miss L (@ProResting) April 28, 2015
Still, these lists are obviously around. They've been happening and they'll continue to happen, so other critics chose to focus their ire not on the general concept, but on specifics — such as the perception that the magazine is perpetuating unattainable standards of beauty.
As Alexandra Michelle pointed out, "We need #realwomen to be the sexiest woman!! Every woman and their body is beautiful! This overly sexualized 'ideal body' is exactly what we are trying to change! No respect FHM. No more photoshop setting unrealistic goals."
Lisa Samson agreed, albeit with a bit of a bite. "Fake teeth, fake hair, fake lips! I mean no wonder women get such a hard time! Disgraceful! And no I'm not jealous, I just think natural is way more attractive. Plus where is the brain and inner beauty?"
A few lamented the poll's lack of diversity. "There's a boat load of women of color that are 100% hotter than her," pointed out Mark Joeseph Mallari Tanglao. And, based on a cursory tally, his point seems to have at least some merit — women of color appear to represent less than a quarter of the "sexiest women in the world."
And still others laughed at the farcical notion beauty can be quantified in such relative terms.
In the words of Annabob Kathryn, "Everyone has different tastes so how have they voted that she is when everyone will think differently ! My mother is the most beautiful woman in the world to me with her strength and love. It's not all about the outer package!"
My fellow writer, Sarah Long, summed this sentiment up nicely, saying, "Beauty is so arbitrary and in the eye of the beholder that it seems impossible to make a comprehensible ranking that everyone will agree on."
This perspective is probably closest to where I fall on the spectrum of irk in response to FHM's Sexiest Women in the World rankings.
In addition to being slightly skeeved out that Kendall Jenner and Ariana Grande made the list (weren't they just little girls, like, yesterday?), I think it is laughable that anyone suggests they can declare any person — male or female — the sexiest.
Or the smartest. Or the funniest. Or whatever other absolute of choice said judge/jury/and executioner of public opinion is dealing in. In the words of Hugh Grant's character in Two Weeks Notice (because, why the hell not?), "Well, that's just silly. Have you met everybody on the planet?"
As Sarah said, beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder — it means so many different things to so many different people.
To some, beauty is a gap-toothed smile. For others, it's blue eyes and blond hair. For me, it's my grandmother's face at night, after she has taken all of her makeup off... 85 years' worth of living mapped out in the fine lines splaying out below her perfectly arched eyebrows and above her enviously high cheekbones.
It's full lips, or it's not. It's a muscular physique, or it's not. There's no way to qualify it, or wrap it up in a neat little bow.
But, having said that, this poll doesn't actually serve that purpose. Its title is nothing more than hyperbole. Most of the 1 million votes they received came from a small slice of the world's demographic and couldn't possibly represent the sum of us.
And, to the magazine's credit, they admit this. Sort of. Following extreme backlash in 2012 when Tulisa Contostavlos topped their list, FHM sent out a disclaimer before last year's voting:
"How could — in a world of 3,301,112,087 women — Tulisa possibly be the world's hottest? Our answer was simple: Democracy. 99% of those who threw their toys out of the pram did not cast a vote. If they had, things could have been very different."
I suppose the moral of the story, then, is that if you want FHM's list of Sexiest Women to reflect a wider scope or a more realistic ideal, you just have to take part in the slightly sexist and clearly skewed poll that lacks diversity and any discernible sense of parameters.
Or, you know, just take it for what it is: a poll by men for men in a men's magazine.
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