The Beauty Myth 8.3分
读书笔记 Culture

"Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at. This determines not only the relations of men to women, but the relation of women to themselves." -- John Berger

The question: why do women react so strongly to fashion models??



A beautiful heroine is a contradiction in terms, since heroism is about individuality, interesting and ever changing, while beauty is generic, boring, and inert-->that the moral lessons of their culture exclude women

women are allowed a mind or a body but not both

in tales and myths, men as the heros and women as the beauty and trouble makers (while stories do not happen to women who are not beautiful) --> children growing up becoming susceptible to heroines


Women's magazines


readers read them with "a weird mixture of anticipation and dread"

begun the democratization of beauty, "the era of the New Woman", with a does of social awareness (beauty as an identity marker in social movement)

post-war era: soldiers return to an employment market saturated by women, who did not want to go back to housework

magazine's focus shifted from ideal wife & mother to manipulating female consumers

--> then the beauty myth, in its modern form, arose to take the place of the Feminine Mystique, to save magazines and advertisers from the economic fallout of the women's revolution, which took over the function of Friedan's "religion" of domesticity

-->The Feminine Mystique evaporated, all that was left was the body -->transfer of guilt

-->in drawing attention to the physical characteristics of women leaders, they can be dismissed as either too pretty or too ugly

The new wave of post-women's movement magazines gained ground from the anxiety that such caricature provoked in achieving women. (individuality, can-do tone, female ambition, female erotic appetite, etc. )


Why do women care so much what the magazines say and show? because they are all most women have as a window on their own mass sensibility

subject to the same contradiction of the PBQ (seriousness and trivial)

"they also provide a rare platform for woman-to-woman debate"

In these respects, the magazines' role should be seen as very serious. For a mass female culture that responds to historical change, they are all that women have.


Women's magazines: feminist on the one hand, complying to the economic anti-feminist logic, on the other

The voice of the magazines as an invisible female authority figure to admire and obey

A magazine is like a club, its function is to provide readers with a comfortable sense of community and pride in their identity

Women also respond to the beauty myth aspect of the magazine because adornment is an enormous, and often pleasing, part of female culture

female solidarity and recognizing other unknown women

Ironically, the (beauty) myth that drives women apart also binds them together (but mostly driving them apart), all can participate in this one way in a worldwide women's culture, which, though inadequate and ultimately harmful, is still one of the few celebrations of female sexuality in solidarity that women are allowed.


While the editors take a step forward for themselves and their readers, they must also take a step back into the beauty myth for the sake of their advertisers



the withdrawl of ads for feminist comments appeared in the magazines

advertisers don't believe in female opinion makers

belie the presented women's age

"this issue is not trivial. it is about the most fundamental freedoms: the freedom to imagine one's own future and to be proud of one's own life

if they positively feature real individual women they would run aground, losing the bulk of its advertisers.

also because women are so well schooled in the beauty myth that we often internalize it: many of us are not yet sure ourselves that women are interesting without beauty

implicit threats and compulsions

a split personality: intellect and beauty

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