The Beauty Myth

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After scouring the internet for books on women and the history, I stumbled upon The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty Are Used Against Women by Naomi Wolf. I was instantly intrigued by the title as well as ironically enough, the cover of the book. It features a figurine of a woman in her underwear examining herself in a mirror. The image is quite powerful in that the figurine being featured is not that of a skinny woman. She clearly has some curves and shorter hair which is not the preconceived idea of beauty that we already have in engraved into our brains. This bold choice is what ultimately drew me into reading Wolf’s analysis on beauty and its effects on women. Upon making this decision I did some more research to learn about its impact on the literary world. I discovered that the book had been a favorite among women for years. Many of the reviews described it as a must-read for any women surviving in modern day Western society. Throughout the book Wolf argues that the concept of beauty is entirely socially manufactured as an indirect way for the Western world to remain a patriarchal society. “‘Beauty’ is a currency system like the gold standard. Like any economy, it is determined by politics, and in the modern age in the West it is the last, best belief system that keeps male dominance intact” (12). Her basic premises is that as women have gained increased social power and acclaim, the expectation that women succumb to certain standards of physical beauty has increased drastically. “The enthusiasm with which the job market assigned financial value to qualifications from the marriage market proves that the use of the beauty myth is political not sexual: The job market refined the beauty myth as a way to legitimize employment ...

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...my opinion, Wolf went above and beyond in her research of the topic. While her book mainly focused on the affects of the beauty myth on the Western world she still addresses different point of views from all over the world. There was still some apparent bias solely due to the fact that she is a woman, however I thought all of her sources and facts were very reliable because she addressed her topic from all different sides of the argument, while still holding true to her thesis. Overall I enjoyed reading Wolf’s work. At times it was overwhelming to read so much factual information at once but, I found her writing very organized and well-structured. As a woman I found the text to be very thought provoking, creating a new perspective about myself and womanhood that I hadn’t viewed before. The book was a very powerful and inspirational read that I found very rewarding.

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