Search the words "Marissa Mayer" and "Vogue" and you'll see that a lot of people have got pretty upset by the Yahoo CEO appearing in the magazine's September issue. A lot of this discussion centers on photographer Mikael Jansson's "infamous" and "controversial" image of the tech businesswoman reclining on a sun lounger. Speaking at the IAB's Advertising Week conference this week, Mayer spoke out for the first time about her decision to be featured in the magazine. She claimed that the photo—deemed by many as unsuitable for a high powered businesswoman—was unplanned and "out of necessity", Mashable reports. Mayer was visibly embarrassed when asked about the feature, and claimed that she hadn't even read the interview.
The offending photo features Mayer reclining in pretty conservative shift dress and shot from above. It doesn't exactly break down boundaries in fashion photography, but it makes a change from the standard powerful-person-looking-pensive-behind-their-desk composition. And after all, this is a shoot for Vogue not Time. The interview itself, which goes under the heading "Hail To The Chief" is about Mayer the businesswoman, not Mayer the fashion plate.
Mayer's apparent need to explain herself has disappointed us on two counts: the first is the assumption that a woman profiled in a fashion magazine is somehow betraying the sisterhood, and—perhaps more frustratingly—the fact that Mayer tried to shrug off her decision to appear in Vogue instead of owning it.
Mayer's approach in business has caused its fair share of controversy, but then is there a CEO whose approach hasn't upset people along the way? While a recent business feature accused her of having an "absurd in her attention to detail", Steve Jobs was widely praised for possessing precisely the same quality. And surely an article that brings Mayer's achievements to a wider (and predominantly female) audience has got to be a good thing, right?
What do you think? Is it OK for a woman with a high profile business career to be portrayed in this way? Or does Mayer have good reason to be embarrassed?