Review: The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf

The Beauty Myth
The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I imagine in the early nineties, this book would be revolutionary and I can see how it has became a feminist classic. In the context of 2016 though, the generalisations and the often cringe-worthy over the top language is a major let down.

I’d definitely recommend that every person gives this book a skim through (reading it too in-depth may excercise your cringe muscles a little too much) as the basic concept is interesting and still applicable to feminism and general marketing today. I enjoyed how Wolf also emphasised how this wasn’t a men vs women issue but a people vs media/institutions issue and explained how she believed the beauty myth negatively impacted men and women alike. It would’ve been interesting to also see how she believes it impacts children, though I suspect that is a much more modern phenomena, it’s frightening to see how the current trends of Snapchat filters and elaborate make-up routines are affecting children’s self-image. For me personally, that is becoming the stem of the problem and I think it will lead to difficult challenges for the generations growing up in a world of social media where everything is recorded and displayed as perfectly as editing and self-censorship will alow.
If anyone can point me in the direction of a book that covers that I’d be very interested to read it.

As for Wolf’s ‘The Beauty Myth’, the final chapter resonated the most with me. The idea that women should be allies with one another and not competitors is still a struggling message to get across in society. I know very few women personally who do not resent other women for their beauty in some way or who can confidently say they believe themselves to be beautiful. Though there is a gradual shift in this practice, particularly in feminist circles and in the ‘self-love’ movement, it does not seem to be reaching enough women and its message is often mocked or lost in translation by radical feminists. It can often be patronising and feel overblown – as if people are cheerleading a person’s successes/positive attributes rather than recognising/supporting them.
In my view this is a significant obstacle and can only be overcome by a universal acceptance that it is more beneficial allround to have a tolerant and appreciative attitude towards other women’s choices (as Wolf puts it herself) rather than dramatically celebratory or critical attitude. I look forward to being part of the generation that, with some persistence and honesty, will achieve that.

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