chapter  6
34 Pages

Popular Mechanics: Advanced Technologies of Lesbian Celebrity

In 1985, at age twenty-nine, Martina Navratilova had an image problem. This wasn’t a crisis concerning her body image, a case of suffering the damaging effects of “beauty culture” that so many feminist critics write about: girls who starve themselves because they don’t look like fashion models or Barbie, young women who take fatal combinations of diet pills, mature women who have liposuction to reduce their dress size, older women who undergo expensive surgery to eradicate the signs of sagging flesh. No, this was a different kind of image problem, a problem with the media’s assessment of her character. She had a reputation for indulging her whims (she devoured junk food and expensive jewelry, and owned a fleet of expensive cars); her fashion sense was questionable. She played aggressively but was known to cry when she lost an important match, and she associated with controversial people. Nevertheless, less than a decade later Navratilova had attained worldwide eminence on a scale few in her profession ever achieve, with members of the press leading the applause.