Halfway through the book I watched an interview with Naomi Wolf on PBS where she wore make-up! -- the very same "evil" she'd been condemning throughout this. After I finished reading, though, I understood.
I disagree with many of her arguments, but I found the book entertaining and informative. Personally, I love curling my hair and putting on make-up, but not because I've bought into the male-driven visual culture. I think she redeems herself at the end and gives a well-thought out conclusion. I also don't think it would hurt women to be aware of what she suggests.
However, coming from a knock-out like Naomi Wolf, it's a bit hard to swallow her idea that beauty shouldn't be that important to women. There's a reason she's classified as a "Do-Me Feminist."
apachesun reviewed The Beauty Myth: How Images of Female Beauty Are Used Against Women on
Helpful Score: 5
This is an amazing, insightful book on how society over-emphasizes beauty to the point that young girls and women equate it with our personal value. This book helped me immensely with my own self worth.
This is such a powerful book. The facts and ideas not only haunt you as you go about your everyday life, but they also empower you to fight against the unfair standards that women today face. I think this is a must read for every woman.
Wolf was, I believe, 29 years old when the book was published, and her youth does show. Botched statistics about eating disorders, attempts to use overly flowery language when a more direct approach would have been better, and repetitive sections aside, I found this book to be a thought provoking and intriguing read. It is a bit radical in places - she borders on calling women "the beauty class" (Women are "the sex class" anyone?) but does construct a good argument to go with it.
That women are judged on appearance first and substance second is nothing new. It wasn't new in 1991 either. But Wolf's idea that we can never be beautiful is a blow to the ego. We can't satisfy the beast, and I think this is true. The beauty culture has become an expression of misogyny although it does not have to be that way.
In some ways the Beauty Myth is an expression of a racist society as well. Although she did touch on the racial politics of plastic surgery, it was only a few sentences. There is a lot to explore about racism and the beauty myth or the "white standard of beauty."
She does a good job of predicting future trends. There is really nothing off limits anymore. Some more "extreme" things start as a matter of personal preference (trimming pubic hair) grow in popularity and reach a tipping point where a woman feels extreme pressure that she must conform (you can get a Brazilian wax anywhere these days, and many younger women feel it is an absolute must - the same way my grandmother would not go out without her slip or my mother without lipstick and mascara) independent of what her male partner thinks, the Beauty Myth can be so strong that she does not believe him anyway when he tells her he she is lovely just as she is. Other times something like vaginal rejuvenation was started to help those who had fistulas or other injuries during birth. Now it's the new facelift.
In her conclusion, Wolf says she thinks that soon this will spread to men and we will see higher rates of eating disorders and low self esteem due to poor body images in boys and men. The market is saturated with messages telling women they must buy more products and services because they are not good enough.