Wonder Woman: Feminist icon, or just a painted lady?

It’s Friday. It’s been a long week at work/school/that place you call “the office” that is really your best friend’s basement where you eat Cheetos and play Wii Tennis all afternoon. So probably the last thing you want to do right now is put your cranky pants back on over your uppity underoos. But I feel a little redressing is in order so we can give the latest Playboy cover the dressing-down it deserves.

Now, obviously, we’ve given a friendly AfterEllen.com how-do-you-do to the naughtiest bits, but you get the gist. Former Playmate of the Year Tiffany Fallon has been painted to look like Wonder Woman. The accompanying text in the magazine reads:

“You know the painted lady on our cover as Playmate of the Year 2005 Tiffany Fallon, but to usher you into the cover story, Sex in America, we recast her as that champion of truth, justice and American Sensuality, Wonder Woman. Tiffany, a modern-day Lynda Carter, has been honing her TV skills. She appeared on TV’s The Simple Life with Paris Hilton, became a weekly co-host for the International Fight League’s Battle Ground and accompanied her country music star husband, Joe Don Rooney of Rascal Flatts (Still Feels Good is in stores now), to numerous awards shows. What’s next? ‘I’ve been filming The Celebrity Apprentice,’ says Tiffany. ‘At first I was intimidated because I was one of the youngest contestants. But I brought a fresh outlook to the tasks. I can’t tell you much more, you’ll have to watch.’ If this wonderful woman is involved, we’ll have our eyes glued.”

Gosh, where to start? Never mind that she is portraying one of our most iconic female superheroes. Never mind that it’s meant to illustrate “Sex in America.” Never mind that she is taking skintight to ridiculously literal extremes. Actually, I really, really do mind all of those things. But what I mind most is the assertion that Ms. Fallon is somehow a “champion of truth, justice and American Sensuality,” not to mention a “modern-day Lynda Carter,” based on the resume presented in the blurb.

How, exactly, does buddying up with Paris Hilton, cohosting an ultimate fighting talk show and marrying some dude from Rascal Flatts make her a symbolic women’s champion, let alone a celebrity? Oh, wait, she is also on a show with celebrity in the title. That makes her a celebrity.

Look, Playboy, if you’re going to objectify, just objectify. We all know the game. Don’t frame it in the guise of some faux empowerment lexicon that you think will make the sexualization more sophisticated and therefore more acceptable. Feminism isn’t against sexiness. It’s against being judged solely for one’s sexiness. Which also means you can’t substitute attractiveness for accomplishment, no matter how good it looks in body paint.