Monday, October 17, 2011
Feminist Classics: The Beauty Myth
The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty are Used Against Women, by Naomi Wolf
When Naomi Wolf published her diatribe against ridiculously unrealistic standards of beauty in 1991, doing such a thing was kind of new (at least, after the 80's). The Beauty Myth has had a lot of influence over the past 20 years.
Thanks partly to Wolf, books denouncing the objectification and commercialization of women are now pretty common. Many more people are aware that our ideals of beauty are unrealistic and unattainable, and our ideas about beauty have expanded a bit to include some variation. At the same time, the standards have only gotten less realistic; Photoshop means that every image in every publication is fixed up to reflect something that no one could attain, and there is no such thing as being too gaunt. Look back at some 80's models and marvel at their curves!
So this was an important book. But I didn't enjoy reading it, and I didn't finish it. Wolf makes some really great points--and she also makes a lot of assertions that I thought were way over the top. I wanted to argue with her on every page, even though I think her main thesis is valid.