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Paper Monitor

12:01 UK time, Monday, 26 July 2010

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

If there's one type of story that Fleet Street loves to cover, it's those about the media's negative influence on female body image.

No, really. In the, quite literally, body text you can carry lots of stern quotes about the evils of airbrushing and the malign encroachment of size zero. This gives you plenty of cover to run by way of illustration a picture of a young, glamorous lady, preferably in revealing attire - what most picture editors mean by positive female body image.

Look no further than the Guardian, which follows up a Sunday Times interview in which Lynne Featherstone, the equalities minister, declared that she intended to put pressure on the fashion industry over its promotion of abnormally-thin models.

By paragraph four, the Guardian has noted that Ms Featherstone holds up the actress Christina Hendricks - Joan Holloway in TV's Mad Men - as a "fabulous" demonstration that one need not be pipe cleaner-shaped to be attractive.

The paper of CP Scott, naturally, emphasises this aside by running alongside the single-column article a two-column photograph of Ms Hendricks in a dress which affords readers a prime view of her generous cleavage.

The Daily Telegraph - no doubt conscious that A-level results day is looming, and anxious to stay match fit - runs a picture of Ms Hendricks across five columns, and furnishes readers of this story about objectification with vital statistics about her bra and dress sizes.

Better yet, it carries a sidebar setting Ms Featherstone and Ms Hendricks "Head to head", contrasting their respective ages (58 and 35), occupations and most notable accolades (Most Fanciable Parliamentarian 2010; Esquire magazine's Sexiest Woman Alive).

It's all so sisterly - as is the Daily Mail, whose page three also invites readers to compare and contrast two different women.

"The BBC may have lost Christine Bleakley to ITV, but they have managed to find a dead-ringer to take her place," showbusiness reporter Simon Cable remarks, his copy squeezed in between full-length photos of Miss Bleakley and her replacement, Alex Jones, in vaguely analogous silvery mini-dresses.

Adds Mr Cable: "With their slim figures, wide smiles and glossy dark hair, the two women look remarkably similar."

As do stories about women in most newspapers, broadsheet and tabloid.


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