Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer's 'Fortune' Cover Is a Big Diss to Motherhood (PHOTO)

Rant 45

yahoo ceo marissa mayerThe most powerful new mom in the U.S. showed up in my mailbox yesterday -- the morning after she gave birth to her first child. So I couldn't help but do a double-take when I saw Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer on the cover of Fortune for its annual '50 Most Powerful Women' issue. Mayer looked gorgeous and fit -- and yes, powerful -- in a slim black dress and belt. What she did NOT look was 39 weeks pregnant.

Given how the issue date (October 6) coincided with Mayer’s due date (October 7), you have to wonder what happened here. Fortune clearly used an old photo of Mayer, who was named the 14th most powerful woman, for their cover. Did Mayer refuse to have a photo of herself pregnant appear on the cover? 

As an expectant mom and CEO of a $5 billion public company, did she simply not have time for a new photo shoot? Or did Fortune’s editors purposely not request a current photo of Mayer, believing that her svelte figure would portray power in a way that her baby bump would not?

More from The Stir: It's Not 'Forbes' Fault Men Are 'More Powerful' Than Women

Either way, what a missed opportunity for Fortune, for Mayer, and for moms like me everywhere. Like it or not, Mayer is a new role model for working moms. As the head of a massive public company, she’ll be scrutinized closely to see exactly how she manages trying to have it all. How much will she work while on her (albeit abbreviated) maternity leave? How will she handle childcare while working long hours at the office? Will she breastfeed and pump after returning to work? How does she manage her work-life balance so she actually spends time with her new baby boy?

Unfortunately, appearing on the cover of a magazine about powerful women in the same week she gave birth, while looking about as non-pregnant as someone can look, implies one thing: moms aren’t cut out for the business world.

Mayer could have made an amazing statement by appearing pregnant on the cover. The so-called “mommy wars” have taken on renewed vigor since Anne-Marie Slaughter’s recent article about "Why Women Still Can’t Have It All." Mayer’s pregnant cover photo would have been an inspiration to moms who are still trying. On a list where the number one slot went to a woman who happens not to have children, Ginni Rometty of IBM, Mayer would have been making it clear that moms can be at the top too. She could have said loud and clear that women can have bumps as well as brains.

Why neither Fortune nor Mayer chose to make this statement is a mystery. Since her appointment, Mayer hasn’t been shy about her pregnancy. She publicly announced it the same day Yahoo announced her as the new CEO. She has made it clear that the Yahoo board knew about her pregnancy before she accepted the job. And she even tweeted a picture of a baby gift from some of her new staff members -- an adorable Yahoo! Layette set -- to her 229,000 followers.

Perhaps Mayer will have an explanation when she resurfaces. Though hopefully for her and her baby -- and for all of the working moms who still believe in non-working maternity leaves -- that won’t happen too soon.

Do you think Mayer should have posed pregnant for Fortune’s cover?

This post was written by Rebecca Phillips

Image via Fortune

in the news, celeb moms, maternity leave, motherhood, back-to-work, work


To add a comment, please log in with

Use Your CafeMom Profile

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Comment As a Guest

Guest comments are moderated and will not appear immediately.


I think she should have done what she wanted to do. This is her choice. Not any of yours. Who said she had to be a poster mom? Maybe she doesn't want to go that route and I certainly don't think she owes anyone an explanation.

nonmember avatar blh

You can't have it all. Whether your a man or woman. Either you'll neglwct your kids/family or you'll neglect your work. the myth of having it all is why so many women are so stressed. Men have it much easier bc they're not expected to be as focused on their kids.

nonmember avatar Cass

Good god, you are reading too much into this. It's Fortune, not Good Housekeeping. The readers don't give a damn about her pregnancy- they care about her as a businesswoman. She does her job and does it well- trying to make her some image of "mommyhood" only denigrates her achievements. If you want to be treated equally, stop trying to constantly fly your mommy flag- and don't make anyone else do it either. You don't get to say "pay me fairly, treat me equally, I can do anything a man can do" then turn around and say "but I'm a MOMMY! I deserve special treatment!"

nonmember avatar ruthless1

I think you are reading way too much into it without having the facts. For all we know she is one of those poor women who is having a lot of morning on bedrest or is just not feeling her best. Or maybe she couldnt travel to where the photo shoot was to have taken place...any number of reasons. And even if the only reason is that she didnt feel like she looked that great, there is no reason to make it a "diss against women". Hard to feel glam when you are queasy, uncomfortable, swollen and tired. Nothing wrong with that at all.

jhslove jhslove

No, I don't think she should have posed pregnant. Her pregnancy does not form her identity as a professional, and pregnancy is a temporary condition. She will always be a working mother, but to me  the argument that because she gave birth she should always appear pregnant in publicity photos doesn't make sense.  It's very likely that the decision on which photo to use was made before she was visibly pregnant, anyway.

She doesn't owe anyone an explanation.

SickO... SickOfMorons

Her identity isn't 'pregnant lady'. Let her do what she wants.

dirti... dirtiekittie

as much as i support working mothers, i don't think it should matter or not if she was pregnant on the cover. i think we should care more about making it so that MORE women feel free to have careers and children, not pigeon hole someone as "you can have a career or kids, not both!". at the end of the day, i don't think whether you have kids or not should be any indicator of what kind of worker you are or what work ethic you have. my kids always come first, before my job. but it doesn't mean i couldn't be good at my job without being a mom. i don't know that there's really a right answer here - if you'd shown her as pregnant, it would have been "oh she's the one on the cover because she's knocked up, not because of her career" and this cover has the opposite feeling to it. in the end, somebody looking at this will find a reason to hate on it.

as a sidebar, i just have to add: the idea of posing baby names and getting a poll through your Yahoo sources just seems bizarre to me, even for the CEO of such a large corporation. i'm in sales, and i certainly wouldn't have been polling my clients about my kids' names! but maybe that's just me.

quinn007 quinn007

I don't understand the point of this article.  First, you have no idea why she isn't pregnant on the cover so you decide, despite any evidence, that there was some underlying intent to prove women can't have it all.  The premise makes no sense considering she had a child...this isn't negated by the fact that she, for whatever reason, didn't pose pregnant on the cover.  She will still be a working mother running a massive company and will still be scrutinized for what she does.  Seems to me the author was trying to make a moutain out of a molehill. 

quinn007 quinn007

And where is the article celebrating the fact that a 37 year old woman is now the CEO of a multi billion dollar company in a predominately male industry?  These women are amazing!

puasa... puasaurusrex

Wow. Y'all sure do dislike this woman. Why is it her responsibility to be the poster girl for working moms? Why is it that she's expected to be all "I am mother, hear me roar"? It's not. She shouldn't run her life according to what can be "damaging to other mothers". Geez, get off her metophical balls.

1-10 of 45 comments 12345 Last