The Beauty Myth

The Beauty Myth

3.8 28
by Naomi Wolf
     
 

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The bestselling classic that redefined our view od the relationship between beauty and female identity.

In today's world, women have more power, legal recognition, and professional success than ever before. Alongside the evident progress of the women's movement, however, writer and journalist Naomi Wolf is troubled by a different kind of social control, which, she

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Overview

The bestselling classic that redefined our view od the relationship between beauty and female identity.

In today's world, women have more power, legal recognition, and professional success than ever before. Alongside the evident progress of the women's movement, however, writer and journalist Naomi Wolf is troubled by a different kind of social control, which, she argues, may prove just as restrictive as the traditional image of homemaker and wife. It's the beauty myth, an obsession with physical perfection that traps the modern woman in an endless spiral of hope, self-consciousness, and self-hatred as she tries to fulfill society's impossible definition of "the flawless beauty."

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This valuable study, full of infuriating statistics and examples, documents societal pressure on women to conform to a standard form of beauty. Freelance journalist Wolf cites predominant images that negatively influence women--the wrinkle-free, unnaturally skinny fashion model in advertisements and the curvaceous female in pornography--and questions why women risk their health and endure pain through extreme dieting or plastic surgery to mirror these ideals. She points out that the quest for beauty is not unlike religious or cult behavior: every nuance in appearance is scrutinized by the godlike, watchful eyes of peers, temptation takes the form of food and salvation can be found in diet and beauty aids. Women are ``trained to see themselves as cheap imitations of fashion photographs'' and must learn to recognize and combat these internalized images. Wolf's thoroughly researched and convincing theories encourage rejection of unrealistic goals in favor of a positive self-image. (May)
Library Journal
Journalist and poet Wolf presents a provocative and persuasive account of the pervasiveness of the beauty ideal in all facets of Western culture, including work, sex, and religion. In showing how this myth works against women and how women sabotage themselves by their complicity with this impossible standard, she discusses at length two unfortunate consequences: the growth in the number of bulimic and anorexic women and the increasing popularity of cosmetic surgery. The facts are certainly stacked to prove her thesis but, for the most part, provide convincing evidence. In her final chapter, Wolf instructs women on how to crack the beauty myth. Recommended, especially for women's studies collections.-- Anne Twitchell, National Re search Council Lib., Washington, D.C.
Margo Jefferson
Beauty is such a strange thing--it's a fantasy, a pastime and a profession...we bring a daunting range of emotions and associations to it...The Beauty Myth shows us yet again how much we need new ways of seeing. -- The New York Times Books of the Century, May 19, 1991
From the Publisher
"The most important feminist publication since The Female Eunuch." -Germaine Greer

"This is one of the most brilliant books I have seen...groundbreaking." -Shere Hite

"A vivid and impassioned polemic, essential reading for the New Woman—" -Fay Weldon

"—an exuberant feminist analysis of women's enslavement to false ideals of beauty. It may well set the agenda for the next wave of social liberation." -The Montreal Gazette

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061969942
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
03/17/2009
Sold by:
HARPERCOLLINS
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
368
Sales rank:
178,812
File size:
564 KB

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"The most important feminist publication since The Female Eunuch." -Germaine Greer

"This is one of the most brilliant books I have seen...groundbreaking." -Shere Hite

"A vivid and impassioned polemic, essential reading for the New Woman—" -Fay Weldon

"—an exuberant feminist analysis of women's enslavement to false ideals of beauty. It may well set the agenda for the next wave of social liberation." -The Montreal Gazette

Meet the Author

Naomi Wolf is the author of seven books, including the New York Times bestsellers The Beauty Myth, Promiscuities, Misconceptions, The End of America, and Give Me Liberty. She writes for the New Republic, Time, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Huffington Post, Al Jazeera, La Repubblica, and the Sunday Times (London), among many other publications. She lives with her family in New York City.

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The Beauty Myth 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 28 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I'm not an expert in feminist literature and don't have any strong opinions on the subject. I found this to be a very interesting read, though quite a bit of it bordered on the unpleasant and the disturbing--rape, violence, surgical violation of the body. It also treads the line between the scholarly and the general interest book, although it's probably much closer to the latter. Very well written, it felt a bit tragic, poetic, philosophical, and almost Freudian in style. A general criticism: could it be that some women seek to beautify themselves, even in an extreme manner, somewhat independent of modern societal, or patriarchical, influences? An evolutionary biologist might argue that some if not most women might have an emphasis on beauty that is hardwired into their brains, and we are simply observing a manifestation of that inherent nature in the modern environment.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is something feminists will love, curious readers will find very interesting, and doubters will find mind boggling. The only downfall I felt after reading it is that many of the claims are not directly cited, and because some of them are so extreme and unheard of, it behooves the source to define where the information is coming from. Not that I think the author wrote any false claims, and there is an index to go to (a lengthy one), but there seems to be a lot of shocking facts with no backing besides the authors word. On the positive note, this book makes one really open their mind to the modern conception of beauty, and possibly help them work through their own struggles of conforming to American standards of beauty. I would like to comment on thoughts such as the one posed by a young reviewer here- the one who believes that people who just look at an ideal female image and want to vomit are 'mentally ill.' Many young and older people legitimately come to conclusions such as those, but they are unfinished, ignorant thoughts. This whole beauty myth can take years and much intellectual curiosity to understand. Many powers that be work behind closed doors to conjure up these widespread images of perfected beauty, and the bombardment of images become part of many people's subconscious. I have little doubt that young teenagers who think that this beauty myth is simple will have a totally different understanding years down the road with much reading and critical investigation. Wolf offers a mind blowing view of how society's powers that be actively work to discipline females to follow a pre-determined standard of 'beauty.'
Guest More than 1 year ago
Women have finally reached economic and sexual emancipation, only to be locked into a new prison--that of the standard of beauty, which is changeable to suit political and power purposes and has been perpetrated on us by the advertising industry and this society. And it has not happened only to younger women, but to ALL women. I can't tell you how many women I've talked to who are unhappy with their own bodies, can't enjoy their sexuality because of that self=consciousness with their bodies, and are always waiting 'until I'm thin' to feel connected with their own lives. I've also known anorexics and bulemics and women who diet until they faint, to end up only with anemia or osteoporosis. And the health industry has bought the whole mantra and keeps pushing it on us, even though women were meant to have a certain amount of fat and their hormones stop working properly when they don't have it, causing all sorts of illness. Sexual emancipation has actually been used against us to turn us into sex slaves, especially the younger women. How many young women have I spoken to who feel 'forced' into oral or anal sex or S&M and other things that they feel uncomfortable with but they don't want to 'lose their boyfriends'. I can't begin to tell you. Young women I talk to are not even surprised by rape anymore; it's almost as if it's expected, just another fact of life. And we call that civilized? Women are all disgusted by 'cellulite', but according to this book the term was actually invented by Vogue Magazine as recently as 1973. Before that it was just natural female flesh that changed with childbearing and with age. Until women wake up and take begin loving themselves as we are, we will never be really free. In fact, sometimes speaking with women today I feel they actually have less freedom than prior generations, because they have been locked into that cage of being everything to everybody, perfect wives, perfect mothers, perfect housewives, perfect worker bees who struggle only to hit the glass ceiling, perfect beauties, and sexual dynamos. And it's never enough, because no real live woman can compete with the illusion that pornographic magazines and film present--air brushed, and prettified, enlarged here and made smaller there by computer and placed on a lifeless page or on celluloid where there is no personality or humanity to deal with, no wants and no needs and is no trouble to male fantasy. What makes it doubly sad is that men lose also. Instead of having two adults come together in mutual love and respect because they want to be together, they come together out of a natural need that has been distorted on both sides to where it's barely recognizable. Naomi has said it all in this book. It should be mandatory reading for every woman and every woman who has a daughter.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought I had an idea of what is going on, but this book brought me to almost every dark corner of society's twisted 'economy of false ideals'. This book is over a decade old. Imagine if the statistics were updated, as things have gotten way worse. R.I.P. Naomi would roll over in her grave.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book tells it like it was, is and will be. There are no suprises here, just cold hard facts. It exposes the real reason many women are unhappy. The author is not afraid to say exactly what it feels like to be tormented & misunderstood. I recommend this book for all women & especially for those living in older or traditional families.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have had so much resentment toward this societies view of what women 'should be' that I allowed myself to become over weight. Why bother being perfect if these piggish American men won't hold up their end of the bargain! Ever notice how we see an average to ugly man with a beautiful woman? For too long women haven't demanded in their lives better looking men and settle for what society dishes out as 'normal' for women to want.The striving for beauty in women and economic wealth in men,creates a society of vast inequality and depression in women.Many women are depressed because we are made to feel we are NEVER pretty or thin enough to please the men.What are we! Mere toys!Yet the men demand little of themselves in the looks department and this is very frustrating for women.One sided and sexist for sure! Buy the book and have a real eye opener into how sexist this society actually is.Also this perpetuated sterotype about men being visual really has to be done away with.It only adds to the problems between the sexes.
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I felt this book was completely accurate and still is today. It provides insight on innacurate beauty myths and challenges women face daily. I found it to be a very interesting book and almost hard to read at times because I became angry with false statements made. I recommend every woman and man read this to help understand controversial issues between both sexes.
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