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The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty are Used Against Women [Paperback]

Naomi Wolf
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Sept. 10 1990
In the fight for women's equality, one issue is still undiscussed, according to this book. The issue is women's compulsive pursuit of personal beauty. The book aims to confront this last taboo and expose it for what it really is - divisive, anti-erotic, hostile to love, not about women at all but about men. The author also confronts the beauty industry and its advertising, and uncovers the true reasons why thousands of women starve and stuff themselves, even submitting their bodies to the increasingly horrifying dangers of cosmetic surgery - all in the name of "beauty". She examines the tyranny of the beauty myth throughout the ages, revealing how it is that women are coerced or seduced into conspiring with the myth to become their own jailers and torturers, and she shows how women can free themselves.

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Wolf's valuable study, documenting societal pressures on women to conform to a standard of beauty, hit PW 's hardcover bestseller list for one week.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From 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,
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Definitive Women's Handbook July 29 2009
Every woman should read this book; in fact every human being should read this book because it addresses the beauty myth for both men and woman. For men, this book will help them understand how their own behaviour plays a role and how they are impacted by the myth and it will also help them understand how their wives, sisters, mothers and daughters are affected by this myth. For women, this book thoroughly explains the modern female experience. I found myself wishing I had read this book when I was younger (I just turned 30), however I somehow doubt that I would have had enough life experience to really understand what this book talks about. This book has inspired me to a better woman: someone who loves her body, who is turned on by genuine human love not violence and pornography, does not buy everything that corporations insist I need to be beautiful and who really engages with other women of all generations about these issues so that we stop seeing each other as a threat.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A MUST READ! June 11 2013
As a woman, this book has been absolutely life-changing. Naomi Wolf exposes the beauty myth for what it is, and succinctly depicts how the myth oppresses women as a group. Better than any self-help book, this book allows the reader to see the myth in the raw, and become empowered by its exposure. Women's debilitating quest for eternal beauty is not just a neurotic insecurity innate to women, rather, it is an intentional man-made barrier inhibiting women's liberation. This realization is the most powerful way to dissociate oneself from society's shackles. I recommend this book to EVERYONE- it is as important for men to read as it is for women.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book July 28 2007
This was one of the first books I read that looked critically at female body image and beauty ideals and it changed my life. I can't say enough about this book... I loved it.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Life Changing Jan. 22 2010
By Kim
I borrowed this book from the town library when I was about 15 years old. I understood and had already internalized many of the social norms for female appearance. (Now 23, working on a B.A. in Law and Justice/Sociology; I had to look this up for a cite in my paper.)

I was prompted to write by a previous comment regarding the possibility that striving for beauty is an evolutionary trait. What comes to my mind are both the peacock and the turkey as well as many species of fish where the males are the ones with beautiful colouring or plumage to attract the females attention. Regardless of any evolutionary desire to be beautiful, it is clear, after reading the book, that partriacal authority has appropraiated it, and perhaps mutated it, in order to reinforce that system.
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