Are you old enough to remember the hoo-ha surrounding these photos published by the British tabloids of Princess Diana working out at the gym? Are you old enough to remember when leotards were cut as high as your waist? I'm guessing this one had a g-string at the back. Good times.
Some say the photos were taken with her covert permission. That it was a set-up. She claimed otherwise – that the cameras were hidden and she had no idea.
Me? I wouldn't have worked out in a public gym if I was Diana but that certainly doesn't mean she didn't have the right to privacy. She did.
But what about Therese Rein? The PM weighed into this story yesterday, mildly remonstrating Woman's Day for publishing the pictures which were taken of his wife during her regular workout, through a window, without her knowledge.
The Australian reports:
KEVIN Rudd has made it crystal clear he thinks
a decision by a women's magazine to publish unauthorised photographs of
his wife Therese Rein at the gym was an invasion of her privacy.
Prime Minister said women were entitled to work out without being
photographed and the Opposition castigated Woman's Day, which referred
to Ms Rein's 25kg weight loss since the beginning of the year. "Most women in Australia would feel that they should have some privacy when they go to the gym," Mr Rudd said.
"If magazines choose to photograph people training at the gym
through their cameras without their consent, well, I presume it's a
matter for those magazines. I think people will form their own judgment
about that." Malcolm Turnbull went further than Mr Rudd, describing the photos as an "unfortunate invasion of privacy".
"Therese Rein is entitled to her privacy just as much as every other
Australian," the Opposition Leader said. "It is very hard work being
married to a politician. She does that work and she's entitled to her
own privacy." Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard agreed yesterday that the pictures were an invasion of Ms Rein's privacy.
"She is the Prime Minister's wife and in that role she obviously
performs a variety of public functions. She's someone who does a lot of
work for charities and when she's attending those events she's
obviously available to the media," Ms Gillard said. "But when she's in
her own private space, or what she would identify as her own private
space, for example, going to the gym for a workout, then I think that
privacy should be respected."
Earlier this week, The Punch's David Penberthy made the point that whether or not the shots were in the public interest is one question that may be best answered by….the public. After all, celebrities losing weight sells magazines. And guess who buys magazines? The Public.
Of the photos of Therese Rein, he wrote:
………people may ask whether there’s something too private,
and possibly even too embarrassing, about a topic such as weight loss,
that it fails to pass not only the privacy test but the fairness test.
The paparazzi style shots show the 51-year-old in a polo shirt and
leggings working hard on the bike for a cardio session, doing sit-ups,
step-ups and crunches, followed by a power walk, www.news.com.au reports today.
A brave editor could argue, speciously, that with so many women
battling weight problems, the magazine was boldly doing its
journalistic duty in bringing every vital detail of Therese’s story to
other fuller-figured women.
Well, good luck with that line.
The best argument is that it’s an established fact that Mrs Rein has
been doing a terrific job getting the weight off, and that the mag was
simply interested in following it up, did the right thing by speaking
to the trainer, and went to the gym where the first lady (to use that
excruciating term) has been shedding all the kilos.
Fine, but the mag will have to contend with the fact that the PM’s
wife can probably no longer use this gym for security reasons, and may
also have to explain why it employed the services of a chain-smoking
South Londoner with 17 different lenses who likes disguising himself as
a shrub to bring you pics of the PM’s better half bouncing on a Swiss
Difficult questions, but ones which can be assuaged by the
circulation spike which an interested public will deliver, be it in the
public interest or not. My point then: blame the media all you like. But blame yourselves too.
And today, journalist Emma Young complains that it is yet another example of women in the public eye being valued on for their appearance:
The remarks by the magazine's editor, Fiona Connolly, defending publication of the pictures, reveal much more about the dilemma. "The
photos show Ms Rein happily working out, suitably attired, and looking
very trim after shedding 25kg," she said in a statement. "It is for
this reason we decided to run the pictures."
Her point seems
to be that if Therese Rein looks good, what's her problem with the
breach of privacy? This idea – that these unauthorised photographs
should only flatter this successful businesswoman – is ridiculous.
implications are manifold. First, it suggests her appearance before she
lost weight should have been accompanied by shame. If she had still
been in possession of those recently shed kilograms, Woman's Day might not have been so "inspired" by her actions.
drive to publish points to the longstanding reality that all women,
especially those of particular merit and interest, are pushed and
pulled to look a certain way. There's an underlying expectation that
women involved in anything from politics to social justice and sport
should look good enough (and be trim enough) to back up whatever else
they're trying to achieve.
When the appearance of women is so heavily monitored and shaped by demand, it diminishes and trivialises them on the whole.The media play no small role in this and Woman's Day and its ilk are high on the offence-o-meter.
I certainly think Therese Rein's privacy was breached but as magazine sales prove time and again, we like a weight loss story…a make-over…..and we want details. Do you care how Therese Rein lost weight or that her privacy was breached? Was Woman's Day out of line or is this just part of the deal that comes with being married to a national leader?