People Story Misquoted, Misrepresented Maes
[Editor's note: The Tech received a copy of this letter addressed to People magazine.]
Many people at MIT - including me - were upset by the article about me in People magazine's "50 most beautiful people" issue.
The words used in the article were taken completely out of context. In fact, the editor actually took phrases from several sentences and made up other words on his own. As a result, I am incorrectly quoted as saying things like "MIT is a wasteland when it comes to beauty" and "it's not hard to be the prettiest woman when there are no other women around." These words are offensive to the whole MIT community and especially to MIT women who have fought long and hard and with success to change the representation of, recognition of, and respect for women at the Institute.
I agreed to participate in this interview because I hoped it would help change the stereotype of the white male scientist which many people still hold. I thought that the article would encourage people to view "brains" as an integral part of the definition of beauty. And, finally, I was pleased that the magazine picked a normal, hardworking person who doesn't have time to worry about makeup and bad hair days.
I am very disappointed that the resulting article turned out to give the opposite impression and feel sorry that it offended many people. (As a side note, Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and Associate Director of the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory Rodney A. Brooks also feels he was misquoted in the article and regrets that his comments about my technical work were completely ignored.)
Associate Professor of Media Arts and Sciences