While the United Kingdom was on the eve of initiating its divorce from the European Union, the Daily Mail newspaper thought it would be a good idea to instead compare British Prime Minister Theresa May and Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s legs.
Yes, their legs.
On Monday evening, BBC editor Neil Henderson tweeted a photo of the Daily Mail’s March 28 front page cover, revealing a headline that left no questions about the paper's focus.
— Neil Henderson (@hendopolis) March 27, 2017
The headline reads, “Never mind Brexit, who won Legs-it?” alongside a photo of the two leaders sitting beside each other.
The two women met on Monday, March 27 to discuss Brexit and to see whether or not Scotland will be able to have access to a second independence referendum. Sturgeon is looking again to seek independence from the United Kingdom, according to Reuters.
According to the Guardian, columnist Sarah Vine (yes, a woman) referred to Sturgeon’s legs as “altogether more flirty, tantalisingly crossed… a direct attempt at seduction.”
Interestingly, in their online edition, the Daily Mail published a lengthy and straightforward analysis, with no mention of the two leaders' body parts anywhere to be seen.
Regardless, the front page left a bad taste in many people’s mouths. To no one’s surprise, many took to Twitter to express their frustration with the paper’s headline.
I think we can safely say that no one won legs-it. No one won a single thing. pic.twitter.com/M2d6QxgWm2
— Felicity Morse (@FelicityMorse) March 27, 2017
Disgusted but not surprised by the Daily Mail.When will how physically appealing we are become less important than our voices. #legsit
— Jessica James (@JessieJaggs) March 28, 2017
— Sharon Glaas (@SLGlaas) March 27, 2017
The Telegraph reports that the Daily Mail did respond to people’s criticism by telling them to “get a life.” The spokesperson for the paper continued by saying that “Sarah Vine’s piece, which was flagged as light-hearted, was a sidebar alongside a serious political story.”
Vine, for her part, wrote a column in the paper defending both the photo and the headline, writing, "Those choices would not have been accidental. The kitten heels, the just-above-the-knee skirts and carefully selected jewellery. All that would have been planned meticulously.
"Whatever image that photograph projected, it was 100 per cent intentional, no accident. Pointing out that they were making the most of their best physical assets — in both cases, their legs — is not sexism, it’s observation."
According to the Telegraph, when May was asked about the controversial headline, she said, “If people want to have a bit of fun about how we dress, then so be it.”
She continued by noting that “as a woman in politics throughout my whole career I have found that very often, what I wear — particularly my shoes — has been an issue that has been looked at rather closely by people.”
Meanwhile, Sturgeon had a rather different response towards the headline, reports the Guardian. A spokesperson for the minister responded by saying that “Brexit may risk taking Britain back to the early 1970s, but there is no need for coverage of events to lead the way.”