Author Photos, the Arms-Crossed-Power-Pose Gender Imbalance, and Your Favorites

Jeff VanderMeer • March 24th, 2008 @ 1:32 pm • Culture


(Cat Sparks, Aurealis Award-winning author and editor. Recent fiction in Paper Cities and Clockwork Phoenix.)


(Catherynne M. Valente, World Fantasy Award finalist and Tiptree winner.)


(Cat Rambo, co-editor of Fantasy Magazine, and with fiction in Weird Tales and Asimov’s.)

The three awesome Cats I know and love, all striking arms-crossed power poses and kicking ass exclusively for this blog, something you don’t see much in female author headshots. This kind of thing is a lot more common:

Although, every once in a blue moon, you do see this:

Some among you may recall that last week I got a little uppety about power poses in author photos, the catalyst for the post this crossed-arm power pose by Scott Sigler:

I also accused John Scalzi of being part of this hard-ass, grim-pose movement, to which he replied, basically, “I have no arms to cross, because I took the photo”:

Maybe I was actually thinking of this photo of him, in which I feel his arms are metaphorically crossed:

On the other hand, he has a bacon cat (or is it a cat that tolerates bacon on its head?), so it’s hard to think of him in the grim-pose:

China Mieville’s another possible offender, as in this photo where he does indeed look like he might eat your children, but on the other hand, his head might just be cold:

Especially since he manages to make the crossed-arms look adorable here:

Other writers never get the crossed-arms thing right:

Others decide to let their totem animals do the strutting:

Some don’t even get close, as evidenced by the horrified looks of those in the background:

Then, of course, there’s this pseudo-power look, basking in the light of the computer screen:

Or, the direct approach:

Back in the day, though, a male author could just let his beard do the intimidating for him:

And, finally, the author trying to look 12, apparently, when he’s really in his mid-30s.

Feel free to share some of your own favorites…

26 Responses to “Author Photos, the Arms-Crossed-Power-Pose Gender Imbalance, and Your Favorites”

  1. Grant Stone says:

    I am so growing a beard like that…

  2. Jeff VanderMeer says:

    Or you could harvest hamster hair and make one and stick it on with superglue.

    jeff

  3. Grant Stone says:

    Yeah, given my non-hirsuteness, I’d end up gluing something. No, I’d probably use tape.

  4. Sean says:

    Jeff,
    It’s about time someone did some hard hitting reporting on the REAL issues affecting the spec-fic world today! Keep it up!

    Seriously, though. This was a great post. And the three Cats look awesome. Maybe there is a future WWE tag team match them vs. you, scalzi and china. For charity, of course. ;)

  5. Larry says:

    If my scanner were working properly, I’d consider scanning in that image on the back of R. Scott Bakker’s The Thousandfold Thought ARC and link it here for consideration. I’ve teased Scott for three years now that he looks like the missing member of Air Supply in that photo.

    But these are great photos! But I’m surprised you didn’t have a caption for this author. I suspect that combination beard/ponytail look with the arms crossed means something, right?

  6. Grant Stone says:

    Woah! I didn’t know Terry Goodkind was Chuck Norris!

  7. Larry says:

    Well, I would imagine that Goodkind’s tears would cause cancer rather than cure it, but that’s just me.

  8. Andrew says:

    Haha that horrified girl in the background… priceless
    Truman Capote’s picture is kinda creepy

  9. Patrick Nielsen Hayden says:

    My default LiveJournal icon, of course, combines the “crossed arms power pose” and “looking nine years old” memes in a single image.

  10. Nadine says:

    Bah. I can’t find the infamous log photo of Tad Williams. It’s got the arms-crossed badass pics beat, hands down (or up, really, as he’s got the log over his shoulders).

    I suspect he’s burnt the original and had any online reproductions taken down on pain of death-by-small-dog.

  11. Grant Stone says:

    I remember that Tad Williams photo. Yeah, that wins the arms cross division.
    For arms uncrossed, the picture of Tim Willocks (hm, another TW) on the back of Green River Rising still scares me.

    I stole the pose for my photo from Springsteen.

  12. Matt says:

    Terry Goodkind’s carefully coiffed beard makes him look like one of the members of eighties cheese R&B pop band Color Me Badd.

  13. Matt Jarpe says:

    Nothing says “tough hombre” like holding a really kick-ass Pokemon card.

    http://feedback.matthewjarpe.com/2007/12/09/gotta-catch-em-all.aspx

    What?

  14. Grant Stone says:

    That is a good card. What defence does it have against attacks from Color Me Badd?

  15. Vincent from Merugear.nl (The Wizard) says:

    Thanks google analytics! Just found out your site had been linking to mine, and it really gave me a chuckle to see that that awful carnival picture of mine ended up in this hall of fame. Though next time, feel free to send me a mail when using any of it if you’d like.

    Albeit not a perfect power pose, I hope you enjoy the picture!

    Vincent, from Merugear.nl

  16. Larry says:

    Well, as bad as Color Me Badd is to me right now, at least you didn’t think he could have been an extra for Flock of Seagulls!

    You realize we’re probably confusing the 20 and under crowd, right?

  17. Grant Stone says:

    It’s not us that’s confusing the 20 and under crowd. I blame three levels of scrolling text on top of the news and the Doodlebops.

    Younglings: back in the old days, a killer haircut was sometimes more important than singing ability. Of course things are completely different today… hey! Come back with my Rubick’s snake you hooligans!

  18. Andrew says:

    I’m 20 and under… I’ve heard “flock of seagulls haircut”… isn’t it a reverse mohawk?

  19. Jeff VanderMeer says:

    Hey, Vincent! Thanks for being a good sport. I thought that photo was awesome.
    jeff

  20. macdibble says:

    I’m all for the female power pose. If one crosses ones arms just so… one can give the illusion of cleavage. Cleavage is powerful… right?

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  22. Sergio says:

    Jeff,
    You can see dozens of author photos, ordered by poses, here: http://www.roteiroromanceado.com/flagrantes/flagrantes40.htm (a Brazilian website)

  23. Jeff VanderMeer says:

    Oh wow–that’s awesome, Sergio!
    jeff

  24. Are You Infected? A Comprehensive Interview with Author Scott Sigler | pingomania.com says:

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  25. Author photos and online dating profiles « Twenty Palaces says:

    [...] And authors have to fuss a little over their photos. Catherynne Valente wrote a post a few months back about her own picture, and how people thought she looked “mean” because she wasn’t smiling. Jeff VanderMeer took a swipe at the “male author with his arms crossed” pose. [...]

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