Today women have more money, power, scope and legal recognition than ever before....but how do we feel about ourselves physically?
- Naomi Wolf, Author of The Beauty Myth
The Beauty Myth is the completely manufactured and impossible to achieve ideal of female beauty that is sold to us through the media.
The Beauty Myth imprisons women into an unconscious and never-ending cycle of spending their time, money and energy in an attempt to feel good enough.
It is a physical, emotional, mental and financial trap that keeps us insecure, exhausted and broke, for we must do the impossible: "fight ageing" and become something that virtually does not exist, for only 5% of women naturally possess the "ideal body type" which is impossible to achieve without surgery or starvation.
Often the 'model look' and images we are bombarded with and subconsciously conditioned to associated as beautiful, is to look blank impassive, vacuous, unapproachable, unhappy, bored, and in some cases, angry, starved, abused and disempowered.
Sometimes these unhealthy messages and images are conveyed subtly, but in some cases extreme images of disempowered women are glamourised, and often by some the most "reputable" brands.
Whether or not we aspire to be like the images we see, these images have a powerful subconscious impact on the way we see beauty and feel about ourselves.
The Beauty Myth was a bestselling book written by renowned author, journalist and feminist Naomi Wolf. It is the result of a comprehensive investigation into the mainstream ideal of female beauty that is sold to us through the media, its connection to the womens liberation movement and the impact this has on women psychologically, emotionally, physically and financially.
Naomi Wolf's masterpiece puts forth a high volume of compelling research thats show how images of female beauty are being used as a political weapon against womens advancement:
"Research consistently shows behind the wests controlled attractive, successful working women, there is a secret “underlife” poisoning our freedom, infused with notions of beauty, it is a dark vein of self hatred, physical obsessions, terror of ageing and dread of lost control"
“As women released themselves from the feminine mystique of domesticality, the beauty myth took over its lost ground, expanding as it worked to carry on its work of social control”
Economist John Kenneth Galbraith:
“behaviour that is essential for economic reasons is transformed into a social virtue”
"An economy that depends on slavery needs to promote images of slaves that “justify” the institution of slavery. Western economies are absolutely dependent now on the continued underpayment of women. An ideology that makes women feel “worth less” was urgently needed to counteract the way feminism has begun to make us feel worth more."
"As soon as a womens primary social value could no longer be defined as the attainment of virtuous domesticality, the beauty myth redefined it as the attainment of virtuous beauty."
"Reproductive rights gave western women control over their own bodies; the weight of fashion models plummeted to 23 percent below that of ordinary women, eating disorders rose exponentially and a mass neurosis was promoted that used food and weight to strip women of that sense of control."
"Beauty myth tells a story: the quality called beauty objectively and universally exists. Women must want to embody it and men want to possess women who embody it. This embodiment is an imperative for women and not for men, which situation is necessary and natural because it is biological, sexual and evolutionary: strong men battle for beautiful women, and women who are more reproductively successful. Women's beauty must correlate to their fertility, and since the system is based on sexual selection, it is inevitable and changeless. None of this is true. “Beauty” is a currency System like the gold standard. Like an economy, it is determined by politics and in the modern age in the west, it is the last belief system that keeps male dominance intact. In assigning value to women in a vertical hierarchy according to a culturally imposed physical standard, it is an expression of power relations in which women must naturally compete for resources that men have appropriated for themselves."
In the 1970s "feminists broke the stranglehold on the women's popular press of advertisers for household products, who were promoting the feminine mystique; at once, the diet and skincare industries became the new cultural censors of women's intellectual space. The gaunt, youthful model supplanted the happy housewife as the arbiter of successful womanhood."
"Since the 1980s when women breached the power structure, eating disorders rose exponentially, cosmetic surgery become the fastest growing medical speciality, and consumer spending doubled, pornography became the main media category (even ahead of legitimate films)"
"And the unconscious hallucination grows ever more influential and persuasive because of what is now conscious market manipulation – diet industry, cosmetics industry, cosmetic surgery industry, pornography industry – have arisen from the capital made out of unconscious anxieties, and in turn able, through their influence on mass culture, to use, stimulate, and reinforce the hallucination in a rising economic spiral."
"The beauty myth of the present is more insidious than any mystique of femininity yet; a century ago, Nora slammed the door of the doll’s house; a generation ago, women turned their backs on the consumer heaven of the isolated multi-applianced home; but where women are trapped today, there is no door to slam. The contemporary ravages of the beauty backlash are destroying women physically and depleting us psychologically. If we are to free ourselves from the dead weight that has once again been made out of femaleness, it is not ballots or lobbyists or placards that women will need first, it is a new way to see."