I gained nearly 10 kilos in less than 2 years’ time. When I look at myself in the mirror, sometimes I feel ugly. There is more fat under my skin, so a lot of my clothes don't fit anymore. In those I finally fit in, I don't look the same as last time I wore them, I look bigger with flesh in places it shouldn't be. My partner keeps reminding me how much I have gained over this short period of time, which makes me doubt of my sexual attraction from time to time. I react indifferently only to make myself feel better, but I am indeed upset. I told my friends that I need to lose weight because of my bad knee, but that's just partially true, I want to be BEAUTIFUL again! Being overweight or FAT is NOT beautiful according to the social standard! But I am a feminist! How can I submit to the patriarchal standard of beauty since I have already known that it's nonsense!
This book gave me an answer. Naomi Woolf talks about The Beauty Myth-a new Feminine Mystique-in 6 aspects: work, culture, religion, sex, hunger and violence. And it provided a solution for women to work together against the beauty myth.
We have a PBQ in working environment: no matter what you wear, how you behave, it is always wrong. You will be put into low-value jobs without promotion, besides, you will be harassed with no punishment to the harassers.
In American culture, women are either beauty-without-intelligence or intelligence-without-beauty. Aging became a sin according to the women's magazines, of course we also need to buy a lot of things to make themselves beautiful according to the women's magazines as the capital controls what is beautiful.
Beauty is holy, it is like a religion solely working on women, telling women "what to eat, what to wear, what to do to the body and when." Purity, devotion, divinity, death and rebirth could be easily achieved by following the beauty doctrine. Women are flawed, imperfect, wrong. Aging and getting fat is the original sin only to women, or in another way, being born as a woman is the original sin. "Women's oral appetites are the social embodiment of shame." Holy oil- skin care industry has been selling women nothing at all for more than 40 years and keeps growing rapidly, with carefully phrased advertisements to convert women to beauty. The arthur calls this industry fraudulent. "……The mentality of weight control is frightening because it draws on techniques that addict to the devotee to cult thinking, and distort her sense of reality." By reinforcing women thinking about food, offering them happiness and a new identity, the weight control/ dieting cult make women suffer from anorexia and bulimia and more. Self-loathing is the ultimate weapon this cult holds against women.
"Women's beauty is our sexuality", according to The Beauty myth --"put guilt, shame, and pain back into women's experience of sex", "sex just isn't sex anymore without violence", and it makes women masochist in sex, an "object desired ever-changing, disposable, and dictated by the market", "separate women from their bodies during the act of love". Men cannot escape either, "The culture has set it up so that men must continually hurt and offend one another over this issue". Of course pornography helps a lot on it. "Ideal beauty is ideal because it does not exist."
"The weight-loss cult recruits women from an early age, and eating disease are the cult's bequest." "The more financially independent, in control of events, educated and sexually autonomous women become in the world, the more impoverished, out of control, foolish, and sexually insecure we are asked to feel in our bodies." The arthur shares her personal experience to tell how bad it was/ is.
"The hypocrisy of the use of 'health' as a gloss for the Surgical Age is that the myth's true message is that a woman should live hungry, die young, and leave a pretty corpse." The reclassified ugliness as a disease can only secured with cosmetic surgeries like liposuction, breast implant, face-lift, etc. with great pain and danger. "New possibilities for women quickly become new obligations." "The 'feminine' woman…is slim, passive, deferential to men and 'does not exhibit emotions such as anger, frustration and assertiveness.'"
"The beauty myth countered women's new freedoms by transposing the social limits t women's lives directly onto our faces and bodies." "we must see that it does not matter in the least what women look like as long as we feel beautiful." "When someone discusses a woman's appearance to her face, she can ask herself, Is it that person's business? Are the power relations equal? Would she feel comfortable making the same personal comments in return?" and also these questions everyday "Who is this serving? Who says? Who profits? What is the context?"
Naomi R. Wolf, born November 12, 1962 to a Jewish family in San Francisco,is a liberal progressive American author, journalist, feminist, and former political advisor to Al Gore and Bill Clinton. Wolf first came to prominence in 1991 as the author of The Beauty Myth. With the book, she became a leading spokeswoman of what was later described as the third wave of the feminist movement. "The Beauty Myth" was first published in 1990 by Chatto & Windus. It was republished in 2002 by HarperPerennial with a new introduction. I read the new version. The statistics used in this book are all from 1980s even 1970s, as you can say, outdated. But it is not getting better, instead it is getting worse and worse. Photoshop was created in 1988, initially released in 1990; cosmetic surgery covers far more than what the arthur had listed now. As technology evolves, the ideals are more and more artificial, farther and farther away from a real woman.
I am not sure if it is the time of when the book are written to blame, she failed to touch the core of The Beauty Myth, which is patriarchy. When it goes to the solution in the final chapter, it only gives individual solutions like: tell women to cherish themselves as women, respect each other, respect diversity, and so on and on. She surely calls The Beauty Myth a "Institutional discrimination", she also says we are fed up with the individual solutions, but she is focused on calling on women to unite to "stop blaming ourselves and stop running and stop apologizing", "start to please ourselves once and for all", and enjoy being ourselves. This is only the first step, but if this is the start of the third wave, it will be soon stopped by the core of this myth, patriarchal society.