“She may be young, but she’s determined, graceful, and not the least bit entitled,” writes Glamour reporter Kyle Buchanan of the magazine’s latest Woman of the Year recipient, Selena Gomez. In their most recent issue, Glamour magazine honored some of the most influential ladies of the past 12 months. This year’s honorees include a wide variety of celebrities and activists, ranging from legendary photographer Annie Leibovitz to Girls producer, director and actor Lena Dunham. But instead of going with one of these trailblazing women for the cover, Glamour decided on 20-year-old Disney starlet Selena Gomez instead.
There’s nothing wrong with Gomez. In fact, the magazine paints a very pretty picture of the “Love You Like a Love Song” singer as a down-to-earth girl who is active with charities such as UNICEF. But reading about the accomplishments of Shareem Obaid-Chinoy who won an Academy Award and raised awareness about women surviving acid attacks in Pakistan with her documentary, Saving Face, and Erin Merryn, an activist who has been raising awareness to prevent sexual abuse against children, Gomez feels like the odd woman out.
Many of the women featured in this issue have earned their titles by exceeding in their respective industries and proving that they can hang with the boys. Zaha Hadid designed the aquatic center for the 2012 London Olympics and is currently one of the top architects in the world, a field that is still today dominated by men. Similarly, Jenna Lyons used her business savvy and worked her way from the bottom of the totem pole to eventually become the president of J.Crew. Selena Gomez, on the other hand, makes headlines when she makes a trip to Starbucks or shows up courtside at a Lakers game with her freshly legal beau, 18-year-old Justin Bieber.
The article touches upon her charity work and her humble beginnings, but it almost feels like secondary information as the writer goes on to ask more buzz-worthy questions, like how often she texts Taylor Swift or how she deals with Justin Bieber’s fans. The story also remarks on Gomez’s acting career, although the only film she’s appeared in this past year was the animated kid’s flick Hotel Transylvania. Gomez is currently working alongside Vanessa Hudgens and James Franco on Spring Breakers, a film about four scantily clad college students who rob a restaurant and roam around Florida taking drugs until they eventually land in jail. Glamour refers to her role in the film as a “brave acting choice.”
Selena Gomez might be the ideal cover girl for a magazine targeted primarily toward high school and college women, like Glamour, but some of the other honorees seem more deserving. Lena Dunham has been one of the biggest names in television this year, and has essentially rewritten the rules of women’s comedy. Gabby Douglass was one of the brightest stars in the 2012 London Olympics and became the first African-American gymnast to win a gold medal in the individual all-around. In the same issue, Glamour dubbed Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg the Lifetime Achievement winner. To many, this powerful woman is miles ahead of all of the other women recognized this year—but it’s hard to imagine the 79 year-old judge in Selena’s cover spot, wearing a cleavage-bearing dress and hot-pink lipstick.
The Woman of the Year issue is a golden opportunity for Glamour to feature an inspirational woman on their cover who has used her celebrity to make a positive impact in her field. Perhaps they decided to go with Gomez because she’s recognizable and makes for a cover photo that’s easy on the eyes. Granted, the young actress/singer seems to have the best intentions and a heart of gold, but this title is for Women of the Year, not the Girl Next Door.