The word “feminist” is somewhat of a pejorative term in our world, instantly invoking images of excessively hairy women with breasts gone south from all that bra-burning and whatnot. To many, the “feminist” is just an angry, bitter and unattractive woman never ogled by the male race.
A feminist is someone who believes in equality of rights, and as such, we - women - should all call ourselves feminist.
Before The Beauty Myth , I had never read feminist literature, save a few articles in my law degree about the Feminist Perspective on Tort Law, for example. I have read half of the Female Eunuch , but that was years ago. The Beauty Myth really opened my eyes; not only to the field of Feminist Literature but to my own oppression, and the oppression of every other female on this planet.
The Beauty Myth is a scathing book that critiques the beauty industry with its unattainable standards of what is beautiful as being the ultimate backlash to women breaking down the power structures during the first wave of feminism. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good beauty routine - I love makeup. I love using products that make me smell like a cocktail on a tropical island, and I enjoy controlling my hair growth. What I don’t enjoy, however, is watching friends that I love starve themselves to look as if they have been in a concentration camp to attain some warped feminine ideal promoted by the beauty and fashion industry.
"The more legal and material hindrances women have broken through, the more strictly and heavily and cruelly images of female beauty have come to weigh upon us…During the past decade, women breached the power structure; meanwhile, eating disorders rose exponentially and cosmetic surgery became the fastest-growing specialty…pornography became the main media category, ahead of legitimate films and records combined, and thirty-three thousand American women told researchers that they would rather lose ten to fifteen pounds than achieve any other goal…More women have more money and power and scope and legal recognition than we have ever had before; but in terms of how we feel about ourselves physically, we may actually be worse off than our unliberated grandmothers."
The above, I feel, is true. Little girls nowadays list losing and maintaing a low weight as high on their list of objectives. It’s startling talking to nine year olds - stripped of their innocence and childhood, they are propelled into the world of waxing, tweezing, covering, enhancing, using a digitally airbrushed model as a benchmark of what a girl should look like. Where are the girls who want to sit on the High Court or be responsible for medical breakthroughs?
Perhaps you may not agree with all that Wolf writes, but it is a compelling read that reveals some startling truths. If anything, it will make you feel less guilty about skipping your beauty routine at night when you’re too tired to make it to the bathroom. Don’t let The Beauty Myth get you down.