You know, there are some things in this life that you wish that you could make up. This is one of those things.
Someone actually put the following ad on Craigslist in mid-January 2009, in their online search for attractive women who had intriguing life stories to tell (because, as we all know, the less visually-pleasing female members of society have no such fascinating tales):
"We are developing a new series of books written exclusively by and about beautiful women. We are looking for women who are beautiful, whose life stories are fascinating, and who are willing to tell their stories. Writing experience is a plus but not essential as we are experienced writers who will guide you through the process. An ability to make the commitment is key. We already have a major publishing company committed to the series. Compensation will come in form of royalties. If interested, please reply with a brief bio, and a photo (if possible)."
No pressure... just add a photo, if you can manage it. But don't sweat it if that's too complicated. They'll understand.
Aside from the fact that royalty payments are far from being considered fair compensation in a writing situation, where you are the one providing the stories (even ghost writers aren't paid off in royalties), the words “writing experience is not essential” make up the most appalling element.
The media constantly cranks out images of perfection that the rest of the world is expected to--but will never be able to--emulate. Not even those people in the public eye can live up to the standard of perfection that the media relies and thrives on, because their well-lit, digitally enhanced images don't match who they really are. As comedian Adam Hills says, "You can't look like that unless you've got an Apple Mac and a computer science degree."
But beauty sells. The goal is to visually please an audience to make a product sell better. That's just seen as good business on the part of the industries who capitalize off glamour.
In a case like this, though? To seek out beautiful women willing to contribute to a book, and then say “we can write it for you“? That defeats the purpose of assembling a work of literature, and that demeans the potential contributors by not providing a more even share of the labor.
Clearly, whoever lay behind the ad didn't want to just release a book to gain a readership--they probably intended to include plenty of glamour shots as well. But again, if you want to make a coffee-table book with pictures of beautiful women, be honest about it! Design yourself a glossy color photo book and title it “Attractive Women” or "American Beauties." There’s nothing wrong with that. Include a one-paragraph bio and a page or two of their story, even... but don't post an ad where you're fishing for great stories from nobody but beautiful women! Find your beautiful women. Find that face which is going to lure people to the bookshelf. Then ask them questions. Surely, as a living, breathing human being, they've encountered some experiences of note?
It’s not just demeaning to start with the concept that that “all you need is beauty and we’ll fill in the blanks for you" because that mindset continues to promote the stereotype that you can only have beauty or brains... not both. Heavens, no. Not both. It might be a bit of a news flash to the world, but there are gorgeous women who are intelligent. They are fully capable of using those five-letter things called, um... words. Yea, that's it! Words!
But, then again, we ARE talking about a Craigslist ad in Los Angeles, California. It’s hard for people in L.A. to think outside the beauty box, no matter what the project.