Does Outside Magazine Hate Women?

Post by blogger | November 29, 2010      

“Outside” the magazine has been off my radar since the Pleistocene — but while killing time in places such as airports I always notice the covers. Lance Armstrong’s photoshopped T-shirt was bad. But what’s with the covers depicting a guy with that constipated male model look, who looks like he’s been locked in a bathroom stall without his razor for four days? Take the latest ish’. Buried in there you’ll find a one-pager about Christy Mahon, first woman to ski all Colorado’s 54 14,000 foot peaks. Christy looks good — super model good. They could have put her on the cover instead of some actor riding on Aron Ralston’s fleece tails, an actor that yes, looks like he’s trying, really, hard.


The article at hand. Christy looks good, but looks better on skis.

And weirder yet, not one photo of Christy skiing or climbing, just some environmental portraits that are totally staged. Along with that, an out-of-context quote by me that makes it sound like I’m making a negative take on Christy’s mountaineering style.

Backstory: When Christy was finishing up her fourteeners last spring, a couple of other women were getting close to their 54 as well. Christy and her husband Ted kept their project somewhat private. On a personal level I thought that was wise, though from a selfish publisher’s perspective I found it disappointing. Christy and Ted were wise because doing a bunch of blog posts and Facebook about the project would have fanned the media flames, and it’s just human nature to have that stuff affect you to one degree or another. More, competition in mountaineering can lead to poor decisions. On the other hand, keeping your inspiring athletics and feats private can indeed be inappropriate, as you are depriving others of the joy and fun of spectating. The latter concept is what they quoted me about, but in a way I was not impressed with since they applied it directly to Christy, and that was not my intent.

To sum up, Christy is quoted and it rings true: “I think there’s an incorrect noting these days that if something doesn’t happened online, then it never happened.”

To me she’s saying don’t sell your soul — once in a while just go out and do something you don’t blog about, don’t Facebook, and perhaps don’t even tell anyone about. Just sit and remember as you sip a cold one. Shoot, I might even do that myself one of these days!

(In case you guys are curious, the quote from me is “It can actually be more selfish and ego-driven to keep your accomplishments secret than it is to share them,” and is from this blog post about balancing humbleness with sharing accomplishments.


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38 Responses to “Does Outside Magazine Hate Women?”

  1. Smokey November 29th, 2010 10:12 am

    Way to go Christy! I turely like the silent style. Refreshing to see these days….

  2. Matt Kinney November 29th, 2010 10:49 am

    Awesome Christy….keeping it real by skiing, not barraging us with self-promo. You go girl.

    “constipated male model look” 😆

  3. cgd November 29th, 2010 11:33 am

    “keeping your inspiring athletics and feats private can indeed be inappropriate, as you are depriving others of the joy and fun of spectating”.

    it comes down to the individual weather they want to share their accomplishments or not. End of story

  4. Lou November 29th, 2010 12:23 pm

    Um, is not generosity and kindness a concept, or should we be doing “just what we want?” There is a little more to it than a cut and dried answer, in my opinion.

  5. Mike Marolt November 29th, 2010 12:25 pm

    (Ya, those Outside Magazine staged photos are something, ha.)

    Nice job Kristy. Personally, i’d have put you on the cover too. But no matter where you ended up, It really has nothing to do with self promotion and is not contrary to your desire to avoid that. Fact is, an editor liked what they read somewhere (probably Wild Snow a good thing) , and published you for your accomplishment. When Outside calls, it’s hard to decline the call no matter who you are IE Lance Armstrong, Ed Viestures, Messner, etc. and If OM wants a story, they will get it and report it how they want despite what anyone says, including the subject person. What you do with the fame, that’s your business. It may be admirable to decline self promo as a result, but fact is, you have the option, and either way, you win. Outside Magazine is a huge plug cover or not. Congrats and be proud!


  6. Lou November 29th, 2010 12:27 pm

    Spoken like one who knows (grin).

    Mike, what was your take on the article about you and your brother? Was it like reading about an alternate universe, or did they get some stuff right?

  7. Brad November 29th, 2010 2:20 pm

    I used to get Outside magazine, at one time it was actually kinda useful and informative. But I let my susbscription lapse a couple years ago, I had started thinking of it as “Maxim Outdoors”. There was less and less about real outdoor issues and endeavors, and more and more workouts, diet, and fashion. Fashion?!!? How I look in the outdoors is important?!!? The name on the label?!!? The price?!!? Meh, Sierra Trading Post and Cabela’s Bargain Cave are more my style anyway.

  8. Mike Marolt November 29th, 2010 2:55 pm


    I was really worried that the article would fall victim to the normal OM over the top hype. It definitely did not do that. I didn’t want to come off as some high altitude ski god because I realize better than most that there are guys in this arena like Kammerlander and a few others that are well ahead of everyone else, at altitude and not. So kudos for that, huge relief.

    But I do think the article was a bit of a slam in one regard. When you consider that in the 100 or so descents ever from 8000 meters, only 3 have been on anything other than, as the writer put it, “trade routes” via quotes from so called “anonymous” experts, he did a bit of a job at belittling, not only Steve and I, but everyone who has taken skis to these “boring routes”. I think had he know, he would have eliminated this “expert” validation of lack thereof IE routes are not daredevil or aesthetic. Without feeling a need to defend what I do as exciting for the obvious of what it actually is, skiing the 7000 and 8000 meter peaks, I will leave it at that, and say if you don’t understand, go do it.

    He did do a nice albeit funny job of depicting our characters, and if you read it from the point of view that he is one of the lead writers at the New Yorker, the article is genius. I got a really good laugh, as did most who read it and felt compelled to comment to me. I think that when you find yourself the fodder of a national publication, it really opens you up to a lot of different public comment good and bad, and starting with the opening photo, we have taken a lot of guff. But lots of nice words as well. So overall, as I mentioned to Christy, to make the content of OM is a fun thing, and you can make of it what you want. But at the end of the day, these things just happen, whether you want them to or not. Unless you are placing ads in OM, they really are independent, for better or worse. In my case, I think they did a good job.

  9. Dan November 29th, 2010 3:15 pm

    It’s not exactly a shock to find that Outside Magazine is not a great source of outdoor sports “news”. That said, your blog title is a little sensationalist, don’t you think? What’s worse is that nothing in your post actually provides evidence of misogyny. So they didn’t put Christy on the cover and instead put a guy, and didn’t print any skiing/mountaineering pictures of her. That’s enough to call them misogynists? You need to make a much stronger case if you’re going to throw around charged words like that, IMO. If I worked at Outside, I’d be pretty offended. If you’re going to take people to task for journalistic “ethics”, if you will, I think you should probably point the finger back at yourself for this post.

  10. Jordan November 29th, 2010 2:29 pm

    Congrats Christy! Great accomplishment! Nice style.

  11. mtnrunner2 November 29th, 2010 4:01 pm

    I would have opted for both the personal shot and an action shot 🙂

    I have to admit it seems a bit odd and out of place considering the achievement and the magazine. Did Outside get acquired by GQ? Did the editor(s) err on the side of fashion rather than adventure? It seems that way to me. I don’t know if it’s bias, as much as simply a missed opportunity to show something exciting.

    As for whether to talk about achievements (from the standpoint of humility), my standard is if you are doing it merely to boost your self-esteem, it’s going to be off-putting. If you’re doing it because you’re proud and you think others might enjoy reading about it, that’s a good enough reason. Safety of course is another matter.

  12. Skier x November 29th, 2010 3:08 pm

    All of you should take a lesson from the texas college boy that skied all of the 14ers in a single ski season about 7 years ago. His outlook on this and his classic quote are the true soul of skiing and mountain culture.
    While we are on the subject of classic, 50 classic climbs of north america is a great rock climbing book that describes 50 stellar rock routes that are truly classics by definition – climbs that have been enjoyed by many over the ages. If it was only done by one group, is it really a classic ( I read this in a periodical and thought it was thought provoking. )HEAVY SELF PROMOTION + SPONSOR/TRUST MONEY + skills = ?
    Thank God somebody is keeping it real.

  13. Lou November 29th, 2010 4:42 pm

    Dan it’s a blog, not the New York Times. But yeah, perhaps I went a little overboard…

  14. Mike Marolt November 29th, 2010 4:49 pm

    they quoted you out of context. you spoke your mind and supported Christy. And OM got plug in WS. Everyone wins…

  15. RDE November 29th, 2010 7:02 pm

    Congratulations on your choice of style, Cristy. If a mountain is skied and only you know how it felt, the experience is yours, not the property of some brainless PR flack.

    The Grand Teton was skied by my nephew soon after Bill Briggs first decent. He did it for himself, not for a place in the record books. Only a few friends even know about it, and that is his choice.

    That said, self promotion can have a positive contribution by opening up the world to others dreams. One need only to look at the way Steph Davis communicates ( to see a great example of this.

  16. Ted Mahon November 29th, 2010 7:18 pm

    I totally agree,
    she should have been on the cover. 😀

  17. Martin Naroznik November 29th, 2010 7:24 pm

    Do you mean Steph Davis, the woman who urges people to save environment while boasting of collecting million airmiles (see a Patagonia catalog few years back)? Hardly admirable.

    “Focus on what you know otherwise sooner or later you reveal your hypocrisy.” is something we all should follow.

  18. Jonathan Shefftz November 29th, 2010 8:07 pm

    “the woman who urges people to save environment”
    — I thought that was Alison Gannett? Or do we have more than one female outdoorsy athlete environmental “awareness raiser” trotting around?

  19. Amy November 29th, 2010 9:11 pm

    I agreed with the blog title. I hate reading OM. It feels like a guy magazine not an outdoor enthusiasts magazine. Rarely do you see women being photograph as athletes in any sport-based magazines.

  20. tom November 29th, 2010 10:32 pm

    I wonder: How could Outside target its majority-male readership w/out opening itself up to criticism that it’s anti-female? Maybe it’s my own gender blindness but I don’t don’t see OM being flagrantly anti-women — visually they objectify beautiful people, places and things, but as cultural crimes go it seems like a misdemeanor.

    My main issue with the latest issue is that it’s getting increasingly difficult to distinguish between the ads, the advertorials, and the editorial copy.

  21. Christy Mahon November 29th, 2010 11:13 pm

    Lou, I’ve always known you’re a fan! Thanks for all the support over the years.

    One thing I’ve learned is not to take any of this too seriously. Hope to see you and Lisa on skis soon, let’s make it happen!

  22. Mark W November 30th, 2010 12:05 am

    The Marolt article I actually sought out. Rarely do I read anything in Outside. This article was somewhat different from the usual Outside fodder, and I enjoyed it.

  23. Mark W November 30th, 2010 12:07 am

    Kudos to Christy. Great achievement. I second the notion that a photo of you actually on skis would have honored your historic feat much better.

  24. Lou November 30th, 2010 7:30 am

    Tom, yeah, it’s a men’s magazine. I think where the annoyance comes in is they don’t present themselves that way up front, so expectations get skewed. It’s like they are a stealth version of Mens Journal.

    In a cultural sense, it’s indeed disappointing that the premier outdoorsy mag is a men’s mag. I’ve heard that overall just as many women as men do outdoor recreation, so that means a lot of gals are being left out both in terms of editorial coverage as well as readership.

  25. Lou November 30th, 2010 9:17 am

    Christy, you’ve now got fanboys all over the globe! Mail coming in trucks yet? (grin)

  26. John S November 30th, 2010 9:22 am

    Expect more women to come on strong in our outdoor sports. I am a high school teacher, including our “Active Living Program” that combines Phys Ed with wilderness and outdoor education. The majority of the students are now girls.

    My 11 year old daughter attended a guided rock climbing and white-water kayaking camp this summer. Three groups of 10, a total of 27 girls and 3 boys. Where are our boys? Playing video games?

    As for Outside Magazine, it’s a rag that is about Hummer ads and Hollywood garbage and I read it if I get it for free, but never buy it. It’s for people that live/visit mountain towns, buy an ArcTeryx shell to wear to the local boutique shops, and circle the block in their Cayenne trying to park a little closer to the Yuppie-Pub.

  27. John S November 30th, 2010 9:27 am

    Oh, and about “Men’s Journal.” It should be renamed “Gay Men’s Journal.” I mean no homophobia or negative connotation from that, but if you really read it, the target audience is obviously gay men. As a fitness enthusiast, I bought a few issues looking for new training tips, but it’s little more than a beauty magazine that is geared towards men that, well, want to look better for other men.

  28. Ray November 30th, 2010 9:37 am

    I’ve lived in several mtn town throughout the west over my years. I always love it when I come into a new town and see the “real talent”……guys and gals just getting out there and doin it. No hype. No headlines. No bullshit. Magazines, the internet, and clubs would have you think there are only a few hardcores (god, I’m getting sick of that word) out there when in reality every town seems to have true badasses (ok, getting sick of that one too). I’m glad this article about Christy came out cuz it shows the real “gems” of our culture. I know Christy and Ted and they are truly hardcore…..err badasses…..errr……just cool people.

    BTW, Christy n Ted, you guys gonna get into skimo racing this winter? 🙂

  29. Lou November 30th, 2010 9:41 am

    I’m really really hoping that Christy and Ted don’t get into skimo racing, as that will cause undue pain for many other individuals (grin).

  30. Ted Mahon November 30th, 2010 4:53 pm

    Actually, we are, though I doubt it will cause anyone “undue pain” because it will be mostly for the fun of checking out something new. We decided after ten EMGT’s, we should take a break (which was last year for both of us), and the skimo thing has always had an appeal.

    Plus, there’s been some chatter of a possible skimo event in the Aspen area this spring, covering what sounded to be a really interesting course, which, if it were to happen, would be something we’d love to be a part of, for it’s inaugural year.

    Good luck to all those in the EMGT online registration “stampede” tonight. Be quick with that mouse!

  31. carl December 1st, 2010 12:30 am

    Fair to say Outside spends as much, or more, time objectifying men. Lost count of the number of bronzed airbrushed outdoor men on the cover and shirtless men inside.

    Kudos to Christy for appearing in cloths inside, at least one other female bc skier posed in a bikini.

  32. Lou December 1st, 2010 6:00 am

    Carl, I didn’t think of that but you’re right. Good take. Wow, whatever happened to that magazine? Pretty strange if you look at the change since it began in the 1970s. I guess it’s circulation and profit driven, with virtually no other motivation… yet another reason why small passionate websites will rule?

    To be fair, Outside has indeed had some good writing over the years (to be stating the obvious), but that only goes so far in my opinion…

  33. Keith December 2nd, 2010 10:05 pm

    The first issue of Mariah magazine was published in 1978. Two years later it was renamed Outside. In 1996, 1997 and 1998 the magazine won the National Magazine Award for general excellence. Its been down hill ever since.

  34. Rick December 3rd, 2010 9:37 am

    I’m a little late to this conversation but as a father of two young ladies, I know that for them to see an attractive female, dressed up femininely, and then for them to find out what she has accomplished, relates more to them directly than to see a female dressed in ski gear or hardcore bc fashion. The contradiction of having a feminine role model that looks fairly normal to them, who is doing amazing things, is much better than a picture that relates directly to the activity. It is the juxstaposition I find most enlightening. You don’t have to become a stereotype and be identified by one thing you do being who you are, instead you can be successful at a high level and still be other things. I think it was summed up by Christy, ” don’t take it too seriously”. Thanks!

  35. Lou December 3rd, 2010 10:29 am

    Rick, great point!

  36. Randy December 3rd, 2010 12:39 pm

    “Stealth version of Men’s Journal…” yeah, I like that, Lou, it sums it up pretty well. I stopped reading that rag after the second cover on Lance Armstrong. They still have the occasional article worth reading but wading through the pages of fashion shoots, “20 Best Sports Towns,” fitness photo spreads and other filler I gave up. I’ll still glance at it when I’m in the supermarket, but I almost always put it back on the rack. Used to be a good read.

  37. pioletski December 6th, 2010 6:01 pm

    I think your take on Outside is pretty well spot on, Lou. I used to enjoy it up until about 1992 or so, when the hero worship seemed to eclipse the outdoor adventure stories. The picture of Christy is fabulous, but you’d think they might show her skiing.

    Given Christy’s admirable, humble equanimity, though, it doesn’t matter. Congratulations again, CM!

  38. Lou December 8th, 2010 10:05 pm

    I swear I didn’t read this before I wrote this post. But I was googling around after a few glasses of wine, and look what I found:

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