Sarah Hanson-Young: 'Why I decided to fight Zoo Magazine over the lingerie shot.'

Sarah Hanson-Young shares why this time she’s taking action.

My daughter is eight. She’s a smart kid and like most kids these days knows how to navigate an iPad better than most adults I know. Her generation has access to information about the world at their fingertips, like never before, and all this information helps shape the perception these young people have about themselves and others.

When I found out that ZOO Weekly had published a photoshopped image of my head on the body of trashy lingerie model I was shocked. But I was more shocked when they argued it was because of my views on refugees. What does my policy or views on helping families who are fleeing war have to do with being made to look like a prostitute? Nothing. It wasn’t about the issue, it was designed to belittle my opinion by suggesting I was worth nothing more than a sex object.

Sarah Hanson-Young. Image via Facebook.

Making the decision to take legal action is never an easy choice, nor one I take lightly. But it was the right thing to do. Far too often the sexist and derogatory representation of women goes unchallenged. Even as women, it is often expected that we should just casually laugh it off. We’re discouraged from making a fuss about it. But it is necessary to stand up to sexism wherever is exists. And I am a firm believer that while words are important, actions speak louder.

Sometimes it is important to draw a line in the sand, and this moment was my line. As public figures, politicians have a responsibility to be role models. It’s not just that sexism itself is wrong, I want to set an example that it is acceptable, if not, critical, to take a stand against it.

The apology from Zoo Magazine.

My young daughter, like all children, looks for guidance. I want to teach her that it is okay to speak out when something makes her feel objectified or belittled just because she is a girl.

I wanted to make sure young girls and women across the country know that I stand for their rights to have opinions regardless of their age, gender or how they physically look.


Whether it is a smutty men’s magazine, the pages of the daily newspapers or indeed comments many young women receive online or on Facebook, there is no place for the degradation of women and rights of women to have views or opinions.

This is why I chose to take a stand – so that young women, wherever they are, who have been subjected to sexism and treated as sex objects know that they have support and the backing to speak out against it.

“When I found out that ZOO Weekly had published a photoshopped image of my head on the body of trashy lingerie model I was shocked.”

I don’t want my daughter to see pictures of me online, with my face photo-shopped onto a near naked woman’s body. I want her to know that women are more than just sex objects, and I want her to know that it is not okay to be treated this way.

The article was disrespectful to me, it was disrespectful to women, and it is disrespectful for refugees to have their plight trivialised by the comments that accompanied the photos.

This case for me was one of principle. As both a woman in politics, able to stand up for myself, but more importantly as a mother. I wanted my daughter to know I took a stand because challenging sexism and bigotry head on is half the battle.

Speaking out against injustice when you see it is what makes the world a better and fairer place and that is the world I hope to create for my daughter. I hope she can grow up without worrying about whether people will care more about what she looks like than what she has to say as an intelligent and thoughtful person.

In accepting Zoo Magazine’s apology, I hope that they and other elements of the media will take a more respectful and considerate approach to their content. Stick to debating the issue, play the ball, not the (wo)man.

For more posts relating to Zoo Magazine… 

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