‘Maxim’ Magazine’s Hot 100 List: Now With Less Sex, More Feminism

The men’s publication tweaked its annual ranking to honor talents like Taylor Swift.
Taylor Swift. (Photo: Michael Tran/Getty Images)
May 18, 2015· 1 MIN READ
Jennifer Swann is TakePart’s culture and lifestyle reporter.

Less than two months after being named one of the world’s greatest leaders by Fortune magazine, Taylor Swift has earned yet another impressive title: most talented woman alive, as determined by Maxim magazine.

The 25-year-old singer and songwriter graces the new cover of Maxim, marking the men’s magazine’s newly revamped Hot 100 List, which this year strives to emphasize its honorees’ accomplishments rather than just their sex appeal—although there’s still plenty of that as well.

Swift’s inclusion seems to be part of the magazine’s rebranding effort, which comes as Maxim attempts to shift from selling sex—in the form of nearly nude photo spreads and raunchy advice columns aimed at young heterosexual men—to peddling a more well-rounded image of fashion, style, and culture under the direction of new editor Kate Lanphear.

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In the Maxim interview, Swift says she didn’t fully see the merits of feminism—which she defines as another word for equality—until she became a woman and experienced the way double standards held her back. For example, “A man writing about his feelings from a vulnerable place is brave,” she said, whereas “a woman writing about her feelings from a vulnerable place is oversharing or whining.” (Swift’s friend and “Bad Blood” music video costar, Lena Dunham, has expressed similar frustration over what she calls the “gendered” accusation of oversharing.)

Unlike previous Maxim Hot 100 Lists—last year’s featured “impossibly leggy” Victoria’s Secret model Candice Swanepoel on a beach in a bikini—this year’s issue features a portrait of a serious-looking Swift posed with tousled wet hair combed back, as opposed to her usual side-swept blond bob. The image was originally shot by photographer Thomas Whiteside for an issue of the British art magazine Wonderland, according to Fashionista.

Maxim isn’t the only men’s publication attempting to make a more culturally relevant shift in its coverage of women. This year, the website AskMen changed the name and focus of its annual ranking of nearly 15 years from Top 99 Most Desirable Women to Top 99 Most Outstanding Women.

Top honors went to actor and U.N. Women ambassador Emma Watson, UFC champion Ronda Rousey, reality star and documentary producer Kim Kardashian—and, of course, Swift.