Please check out my latest for The Toast, on Edna St. Vincent Millay and her glorious sexiness and talent:
When women artists are beautiful, they are often accused of exploiting their beauty, of using it as an unfair advantage. Who would pay attention to Beyoncé’s voice if she didn’t look like a 21st-century Aphrodite? The problem with this way of thinking (well, one problem) is that it assumes an inverse relationship between beauty and talent: if a woman is beautiful, then she is probably not talented. If a woman is talented, she probably can’t be beautiful. Either way, the premise is that women have to be exceptional to be worth any attention. Both Millay and Beyoncé are great talents who are also great beauties, and both of them use their art to undermine the patriarchal game that favored them in the first place.