A Look at Past 'GQ' Women of the Year

Kim Kardashian, reality television royalty, mother, entrepreneur, dabbler of dancing with the stars, is also a woman. The woman in fact, according a certain sartorially-inclined men’s magazine. Yeah, Kim Kardashian is GQ ’s Woman of the Year, and considering the year that she’s had — the grand not-so-secret Italian wedding, Vogue -ing it up with Kanye West, playing big sister-mentor to her up-and-coming siblings, parenting, sunning, creating a really addicting video game based on fame, trying to adopt an orphan that one time — it’s really no surprise that anyone would give her the woman of the year award in any capacity. (And I'm sure North West will give her one of those "Best Mom" mugs and caps soon.) During Kardashian's speech she was sure to throw some love to her rapper hubs, saying, "What a huge honor to win Woman of the Year. It's so special. I want to thank my husband for making me feel like the Woman of the Year every single day."

Now as nice as it is to be honored in any sort of capacity, men's magazine or Spencer Gift's mug, (I have one that says I'm the "Best Dad" myself), what exactly is this award good for? In her cover story, it says that Kardashian has "redefined the meaning of pop culture in the mere space of 12 months." That's certainly a tough thing to do, especially considering that maintaining relevance in our current Internet culture, which can be pretty hard hearted, will try to take you down immediately. This reasoning makes sense — even you dislike her for being famous for being famous, she's made that a business and is very successful — but it still seems like a cop out. As much as I like GQ for advising a new generation of men to Don Drapper it on an everyday basis, I’m slightly ambivalent to accept the Woman of the Year award they dish out as an honor. Granted, some of the past winners are entertainers and actresses I admire, and it isn't to say their accomplishments aren't mentioned in the issue, but the purpose seems to be getting a nice cover girl shot that's sexy and teasing. Look at Kim Kardashian's British GQ cover.

Kim Kardashian — 2014

Messy sex hair, the hint of being on a bed, and her mouth slightly open in a salaciously sexy expression. It's all about Kim Kardashian and in smallish script to the side you see that this is the awards issue. Ohhhh, I'm sorry I was lost in Kim Kardashian's seductive gaze.

2013 — Emma Watson

Harry Potter alum Emma Watson was last year’s GQ Woman of the Year recipient, which I was frankly surprised by, mainly because traditionally this award has been something the men's mag used as an excuse to put up a female face — like an idol while the men's awards are for the best designer, actor, etc. That's another issue with this award: men can strive for their careers, whereas women compete against other women for being women. Granted, it is a men's magazine, but introducing a man's perspective of who should be the woman of the year is degrading.

When I first saw Emma Watson's cover, I was surprised by the choice and by how they did it. GQ is A-OK with putting slightly dressed women on their covers and as a huge Harry Potter and general Emma Watson fan I was worried. She's sexualized by her back, but noticeably, she's wearing a dress, and her expression isn't teasing. Her image isn't "Bam! Here's Watson's bodacious body" but some past GQ winners' covers were definitely just that.

2012 — Lana Del Rey

In 2012, British GQ ran this cover with Lana Del Rey as Woman of the Year. Her whole body fits in the frame, nude, but with the important bits covered up, safe from the family friendly eyes in the grocery line. Did you know that Lana Del Rey was a musician and songstress? That she battled extreme bullying online and especially after her much panned SNL performance? No, you just see her butt. When men win awards for GQ are they be placed in this fetal-like position? Nope.

2012 — Rihanna

GQ's Woman of the Year in 2012 was Rihanna, and this American cover is similar to Del Rey's. Here's a new female idol, boys! Also if you care to look away from her body for an instant, it's the Men of the Year Issue. So glad you're interested. Riri was a little cold so they did give her a jacket, which was nice of them. This year, as Jezebel pointed out, three American GQ covers were released along with Rihanna's, including Ben Affleck and Channing Tatum, who got to be dressed, were shot straight on, and weren't made to pose so seductively. Thanks for pushing the point that sex sells.

2010 — Gemma Arterton

Gemma Arterton is suited up. Her British cover prior to this one was one of the mag's biggest sellers that year and her interview attributes it to her own doing which is great. I mean, she's a brilliant actress. I wish she were in more films now, but 2010 was pretty big for her with The Prince of Persia and blockbuster Clash of the Titans. She's dressed on her cover, which is a plus, but she makes up for it in sucking her pinky in a sex-tease way which should sell the magazine, I suppose.

2009 — Lily Allen

"Smile" singer and all around Sheezus, Lily Allen laid it all bare according to the pun-ishment of a headline in this British GQ cover. Seeing as this was pre-Del Rey, GQ was up to the same tricks of covering the sexy bits as minimally as possible and putting a necklace on it. After that you can call it a day. As for her work at the time, 2009 was when her fantastic album "It's Not Me, It's You" came out.

2005 — Jennifer Aniston

Here's another bed cover that convinces me that GQ will either put a completely nude musician on the cover, feel remorse one year and try to be artistic, or just put a famous lady on a bed. This is the final of the tropes, and it definitely acknowledges the other sex by making it about sex. 2005 was Aniston's film career boomed after her stint on Friends, so it's no surprise that GQ acknowledged her. But just the same, I wish they did it without side boob and the bed.

I get it. Sex sells, and selling a product is important. But it doesn't mean that it doesn't suck. Making the cover girl and the entire "Woman of the Year" award an honor is a gesture of goodwill but it seems like a back handed compliment all the same. Kim Kardashian gets a lot of flack for being famous for nothing, but I give her props for building a family and a business for herself, even if her video game is boring, so her honor should focus on that. As I see it, the Spencer gift's "Best Mom" mug would be better and more meaningful any day.

Images: GQ, GQ UK Edition