Kate Upton is an exemplary icon of controversy. She is undoubtedly an attractive, charismatic girl who has made a career using what she believes is her greatest asset – her body. Some people are photogenic; Upton is seemingly flawless. Excepting any argument about Photoshop, airbrushing, and plastic surgery, and just taking Kate for what she is – someone who is famous for being on magazine covers half-naked – she's pretty good at what she does. To say that she is popular with men would be an understatement.
But how do women feel about her? Are we supposed to idolize her? Are we supposed to think we should look like her? If we don’t like her, is it because of a subconconscious jealousy or bitterness? If we do, is it because we don’t want to appear contrarian to the male-dominated society and thus make us equal victims of the male-dominated society? In our society, opposing men will single you out, and therefore make you undesirable, and agreeing with them will mean you are accepted because you are objectifying women, too.
Men will say that women objectify men. We have man-candy like Ryan Gosling and Channing Tatum, whose bodies we ogle over and whose horrible movies we pay to see because we want to imagine ourselves in their big-muscled arms as they cradle our chins and feed us chocolate. (As if that isn't a stereotype on its own). But to this, I must ask: how many male models can you think of? Pause. How many female models can you think of beside Kate Upton? Heidi Klum, Tyra Banks, Gisele Bundchen, and Kate Moss. That's four right off the bat.
The key difference here is talent. The world loves to value intellectual pursuits more than physical ones; people say Albert Einstein and Babe Ruth are apples and oranges. But are they? They both reached the height of their careers. One received a Nobel Prize; the other won seven World Series championship titles. Einstein used his brain to its full capability but Ruth maximized his body's potential. Which is better? Which is worse? Is there an absolute bodily good?
In any case, Upton is not talented like Einstein or Ruth. She must exercise regularly and use high quality skincare products to stay in shape and stay young. The average college athlete spends forty hours a week practicing and exercising to improve their game while the average engineering student spends twenty hours as week studying to improve their grades. Those are college-level statistics that measure brawn and brains, but is Kate really exercising either? She was born with appealing genetics and maximizes them with makeup and skimpy clothes. Is being beautiful a talent?
As the American public, we love to judge and rank people. We enjoy arguing about their qualifications and their looks, but above all, we love discussing whether or not they deserve to be where they are. To me, the most despisable American celebrity who has achieved fame for nothing besides existing is Kim Kardashian. Upton worked hard to become a model, using social media and pursuing agents to find work, while Kardashian inherited a lot of money, publicized her phony wedding, and got lots of plastic surgery. Upton has been nearly naked in photographs and videos; Kardashian had a sex tape. Is Upton an artist? That's pushing it. But is she a pornographer? Certainly not. (At least not yet). Most celebrities are famous because they can sing or act, like Taylor Swift and Halle Berry, but they have also been able to get ahead because they are attractive.
Still, should she be scorned by women and adored by men because she used her body and not her brains to make a career for herself? This is America - shouldn't this girl be applauded for pursuing her dreams? There's a whole mess of internal sexism between women who choose to stay at home and women who choose to work, as we found with the Ann Romney/Hilary Rosen debacle, that makes this difficult to answer.
But in this land known as "'murica," of the free and the brave, of the religiously fanatic and the enthusiasts of Occupy-inspired hygiene, Upton proves that we do live in a meritocracy. I'm not a fan of her because I don't think anyone can be - she doesn't have a talent to admire - but I do respect her.