The Sunday Independent's Life magazine is divisive to say the least. At its worst its glossy-ish pages contain the most obvious rationale for the government to enact laws that ensure Irish people cannot be in possession of wealth, at its best it gives people like Gerald Kean something to strive for each and every week. So it was no surprise that it was across these pages that something that has threatened to raise it's head finally did yesterday.
Women's sport is undervalued and under-appreciated. So when Stephanie Roche came along and did something great it was a chance to showcase what female athletes can do in a male dominated sport, and the fact that she is Irish was the icing on the cake.
The addendum to this is that Stephanie Roche is an attractive woman. The underlying worry for many was that her footballing ability would be eventually overlooked in favour of her looks. She dealt with the picture from the Ballon D'or ceremony superbly and then came her big move to America, everything looked set for her to really get back to football. But before that has come the Sunday Independent and those pictures.
One of our writers had a say on the pictures yesterday and the reaction was intense to say the least. Quite a few people would have seen the shots, and quite a few people would have had an opinion on them, but we'll leave that there for the time being, instead let's actually take a look at Barry Egan's article.
After a quick, hackneyed, line about Andy Warhol and fifteen minutes of fame, Egan begins:
The beautiful young Irishwoman - who recently set the football world alight with that goal for Peamount United, and the fashion world similarly alight with that dress by Helen Cody - doesn't seem overly concerned with the concept of time, however.
Fair enough, this is a fashion and lifestyle magazine, we're not looking for deep football analysis, then it goes on: (This is the opening paragraph remember)
Not least when it comes to the eight years she has been in a relationship with Dean Zambra, without any sign of him putting a ring on her significant finger. I thought it best to ask Dean himself about what he has in store for Stephanie, whatever about his apparent romantic procrastination.
And then we get the all important question from Barry that no one was thinking.
So, when are you going to ask her to marry you? I ask Dean.
The pictures are divisive. Stephanie Roche is an attractive woman, the same way Cristiano Ronaldo is an attractive man. Ronaldo has been dressed 'up' in a lot less than Roche was for the sake of a promotional campaign. As such, although people can be disappointed that Roche chose to take part, it is very reasonable to suggest that criticising Roche for the pictures is akin to shaming a woman for her looks. And that's not right.
However, there is no chance in hell that an article on Ronaldo would begin like that. Barry Egan must have known that the article and the pictures would be divisive and yet he made the decision to begin in that horribly archaic manner. The only question left to ask is, what are the chances he did that purposely for the sake of controversy?