Monday, August 19, 2013

The Barbie of Silicon Valley

via Vogue

At first glance, this glamour shot seems to be an advertisement for Lancome's newest matte lipstick in a deep red.

At second glance, that beauty lounging in a pose reminiscent of Cabanel's Birth of Venus, is recognized as the Chief Executive Officer of one of Silicon Valley's giants -- Yahoo!'s Marissa Mayer.

Printed in Vogue's infamous September issue, "Hail to the Chief" is an expose on Mayer's business and fashion decisions - both of which are worthy of commemoration. The article beautifully describes Mayer's art collection in her Palo Alto home, a wardrobe filled to the brim with her favorite designer and her handsome (Ken Doll-like) partner, Zachary Bogue. It also nods at the Renaissance she has spearheaded for Yahoo! with the recent acquisition of Tumblr and her restructuring of internal policies regarding working from home, sexy benefits and mobile development.

Despite the depth of the article, initial reaction has been largely negative. The criticism is nothing new for Mayer. Her departure from Google and arrival at Yahoo! raised many eyebrows. Mayer was inconveniently and recently pregnant and she was one of the only female, let alone youngest, leaders in Silicon Valley.

Additionally, one of her immediate changes to Yahoo! sparked a national controversy. Upon mandating that Yahoo! employees were no longer allowed to work from home regularly, mothers across the country snarked that Mayer was being insensitive to the challenges of working parents who don't have the same resources as top executives. Mayer herself only took two weeks of pregnancy leave and built a private nursery for her son next to her office at headquarters.

Moreover, many have scoffed at Mayer's interest in high society and fashion. They have ridiculed her for being superficial. Mayer is known for attending and hosting large parties, sporting colorful Oscar de la Renta gowns.

Criticism aside, this woman is incredible. While I do find the the glamour shot of the Vogue piece objectifying and a bit Stepford Wife-esq, the article wasn't published in Maxim or Sports Illustrated. This was a shot for the most esteemed fashion magazine on the planet, seeking to catch the eye of readers interested in beauty and fashion.

Mayer has been teased as the "Barbie of Silicon Valley" and this article surely supports that image. This nickname, though intended as an insult, is in my opinion - awesome. Kudos to a kickass woman who somehow manages to be incredibly chic and feminine, while running an internet empire.

Now that is the type of Barbie I think girls should look up to.


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