Reese Witherspoon said a 2015 TIME magazine cover left her in tears because it sent a sexist and hurtful message to little girls.
The Legally Blonde star discussed the incident on a recent episode of the podcast, We are Supported By. The cover featured her along with actresses-turned-businesswomen Gwyneth Paltrow, Jessica Alba, Lauren Conrad, and Blake Lively. The magazine photoshopped them all doing chores under the banner headline, “The New Domestic Divas.”
The story revolved around women’s foray into the lifestyle brands market. Paltrow has GOOP. Alba created the “natural baby and beauty” brand the Honest Company. And Witherspoon started Draper James, which sells domestic goods with a Southern charm.
“The whole thing was so offensive that I burst into tears,” Witherspoon told the podcast, according to the Daily Mail.
The magazine called and apologized to Witherspoon for the cover. But she said it shows how the media undervalues what women create.
“I’m not even talking about 10 years ago,” she said. “I’m talking about 2015, when we decided, ‘Okay, we’re going to be entrepreneurial, take a swing, invest our own money, our own time, our own reputation, and try to do something that George Clooney has done, Robert De Niro has done — and getting lampooned for it.’
“That message to little girls is: ‘If you’ve had success in one area, you can’t have success in another.'”
It was experiences like this that drove her to create Hello Sunshine. The media company focuses on telling women’s stories and helps women break into Hollywood.
Reese Witherspoon On Creating a Media Empire
Reese Witherspoon again graced the cover of TIME magazine earlier this year. But this time, the magazine took her most recent venture seriously. They named Hello Sunshine as one of the 100 most influential companies. Witherspoon sold Hello Sunshine to the private equity firm Blackstone Group for $1 billion earlier this month.
“The thing that made me happy about the [Hello Sunshine] announcement is that the banking world and private equity world value something that is about women and women storytelling in such a huge way,” she told the podcast.
Following the Me Too movement unveiling a history of sexism in showbusiness, Witherspoon said she wanted to help Hollywood atone for the sins of its predecessors. They can start, she said, by allowing women to tell their own stories.
“I really want to be helpful to the next generation of women — to my own generation of women — who haven’t been well served by our business,” the Oscar winner said.
Witherspoon told the Wall Street Journal in 2016 that women-driven stories are often portrayed as being frivolous or unimportant. But she bet that there is a market for these types of stories.
“I’m going to double down on that mission to hire more female creators from all walks of life and showcase their experiences,” Reese Witherspoon said at the time. “This is a meaningful move in the world because it really means that women’s stories matter.”