The Beauty Myth Essay

1189 words - 5 pages

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 ...view middle of the document...

She discusses, that women, despite being constrained by having to work multiple shifts (unpaid work at home and paid work for a company and/or employer), were still able to make monumental accomplishments in the workplace. However, the addition of another shift, the beauty shift, has been implemented and designed to keep women preoccupied and too exhausted to be successful at work or involved in anything that could help alter the situation. “‘Beauty’ had to be defined as a legitimate and necessary qualification for a woman’s rise in power” (28) is just one of the three lies that Wolf points out as “vital lies in the ideology of ‘beauty’ [that] have grown during this period to camouflage the functioning of the PBQ in the workplace…” (28). The PBQ, or the Professional Beauty Qualification, is her way of describing how women have subjected themselves to discrimination in their appearance despite restrictions on sex discrimination. The PBQ is of course, only applicable to women, because a woman’s worth is judged based on beauty and not their knowledge in the field or area of study. As the professional beauty qualification and the beauty shift work together, they instill in women that justice does not apply and this inequity is without change and tolerable.
In the culture section, Wolf focuses mainly on the impact women’s magazines have on the beauty myth. Wolf analyzes how the beauty myth took the place of the cult of domesticity (Betty Friedan’s “Feminine Mystique”) exploded by second wave feminism. These women that were forsaking their domestic roles to be independent and have a career were lured back into magazines by the beauty myth. The whole goal of magazines is for advertisers to control women so that women will purchase their product. Throughout this section Wolf analyzes what makes women more controllable than men. “Women are mere ‘beauties’ in men’s culture so that culture can be kept male” (59). The magazines are geared towards speaking to and for women, which makes them vital to women, disregarding the manipulation. A combination of isolation, mediocre education cause women to lack the skills needed to weed out the harmful elements that are displayed in advertisements.
The most moving section of the book was the section concentrated on the beauty myth’s affect on hunger. It is the chapter that provides the most revelation. Wolf uses horrific statistics on the presence of anorexia and...

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