Today, to my own surprise, I found myself shuddering at an article about Anna Heinrich‘s Women’s Health magazine cover.
Nestled in the second paragraph on News.com.au were five words that caused me to slam down my morning coffee on my work desk, erupting a mini fireworks of hot soy latte onto my keyboard and fingers.
You see, when you introduce a person to unfamiliar readers, the words you choose are important, much like a first impression. They must sum up the most crucial information about that person, and give readers an understanding of who they’re reading about.
After “reality star”, these are the five words News.com.au used to describe Anna Heinrich:
"Bachelor Tim Robards’ socialite girlfriend."
Being someone who regularly writes entertainment pieces here on Mamamia, the descriptor jarred me for a number of reasons.
- First, Anna Heinrich is a top CRIMINAL LAWYER.
- Second, when she's not busy being a CRIMINAL LAWYER, Anna works as a model and an ambassador for a range of brands, including Pandora and Oral-B 3D White.
- Third, never in a million years would we be introduced to Tim Robards as "Anna Heinrich's socialite boyfriend". The very suggestion seems laughable.
- Fourth, did I mention Anna is a CRIMINAL LAWYER?
I'm sure some would argue that people are described by their relationship when their counterpart is more well known, but Anna and Tim's fame is much the same - they both became famous on The Bachelor in 2013.
A quick Instagram stalk actually shows Anna's celebrity is larger than Tim's - her social media following eclipses his by more than 100,000 people.
While the article went on to mention Anna "works as a lawyer when not attending events" why - WHY - do we think the more important piece of information about a successful woman is her boyfriend?
Some people might accuse me of nitpicking - or reading too much into a seemingly innocent article about a bloody magazine photo shoot - but these "small" things are increasingly important when we discuss women. They continually reinforce the archaic notion that a woman's position in society is ultimately defined by the men in her life.
Sadly, today's description of Anna doesn't exist in isolation. It's reminiscent of the Sydney Morning Herald's choice to describe six-time author and cosmetics entrepreneur Zoe Foster Blake as "Hamish Blake's wife" in September.
WATCH: Zoe Foster Blake on juggling work with motherhood. (Post continues...)
Or the constant references to Amal Clooney - a prominent international human rights lawyer - as nothing more than "George Clooney's wife".
Even in our supposedly progressive society, our insistence on defining brilliant women by their relationships with men is laughable at best, and depressing at worst.
Anna Heinrich is a 29-year-old woman who has found success in not one, but two career paths. She should not be reduced to the description of the "socialite girlfriend".
We owe her a lot more than that.