The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf is a bestselling classic. It redefines the relationship between women and beauty standards. It claims that beauty standards are socially imposed only.
Koreans firmly believe that the only way to worldwide stardom is the appearance. Their beauty standards are all about the straight nose, V-lined jaws, light skin tone, super fashionable clothes and haircut. To have all these pretty looks young girls and boys literally go under the knife. This sounds crazy but Koreans think just the opposite.
Let’s leave the Koreans aside now and be frank with ourselves. Somehow all of us have had the idea that to be beautiful we have to look a certain way. That is to say, being thin, youthful, smooth-skinned, small-nosed, silky-haired, and nicely dressed are the keys to looking cool and confident.
What if we have been deceiving ourselves for all this time? Many people, including feminist author, Naomi Wolf, thinks that beauty standards are something made up by people. And if you are not that thin or small-nosed, it doesn’t mean you are not pretty.
If you waste hours in front of the mirror worrying about your hair or the wrinkles under your eyes, The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf is for you. Look through the summary Women’s shares with you and do not get upset if your winter or summer wardrobe doesn’t work for you.
From Bill Clinton’s former political advisor to a devoted feminist! Who is Naomi Wolf?
The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf has turned into a classic. The book made her more popular. It was even republished in the 2000s. Now let’s see who Naomi Wolf is and what makes her criticize the beauty standards?
Alongside with being a feminist, Naomi Wolf is an author, journalist and former political advisor to Al Gore and Bill Clinton. She was born in San Francisco, in 1962 into the Jewish family. Now she lives in New York with her family.
She began her career as a journalist in 1995. She has never concentrated on one topic only. The issues she has touched upon include abortion, the Occupy Wall Street movement, Edward Snowden, and ISIS. She also voiced her attitude toward the way women in Muslim countries are required to get dressed.
Besides, she writes not only for one magazine or newspaper. She appears on The Nation, The New Republic, The Guardian, The New York Times, The Huffington Post and The Washington Post, etc. Naomi Wolf also speaks widely to groups across the United States.
As an author, she is quite successful as well. Wolf takes a look at the rise of fascism in “The End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot“. She examines modern assumptions on pregnancy and childbirth in the book called “Misconceptions“.
She doesn’t limit herself by writing only. Naomi acts instead of words. She is the co-founder of “The Woodhull Institute for Ethical Leadership”.
The organization devoted to training young girls and women in ethical leadership for the 21st century. The institute teaches professional development in the arts and media, politics and law, business and entrepreneurship, as well as ethical decision making.
Naomi Wolf became a leading spokeswoman of what was later described as the third wave of the feminist movement.
The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf
Over the course of history, everything changes, including beauty standards. Beauty ideals, especially for women, have changed drastically. These shifts represent societal views. Standards that were considered beautiful ten years ago are out of fashion today.
During the years of slavery, for instance, race and skin color were the main factors in being considered beautiful. Women with fair skin were idealized. Such attitude justified the unfair treatment of dark-skinned women.
In the early 1900s, pale complexion and cinched-waist represented the ideal body shape for young girls and women. Famous hourglass figures became hit in the early 1950s. This increased the number of women doing plastic surgery. Eating disorders was another result of hourglass body shape.
That is to say, society continually shifts the socially constructed ideals of beauty and imposes it on women. Nearly all women try to keep up with these shifts and tendencies. They believe that beauty demands sacrifices. The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolfs comes to convince you just in the opposite.
The backbone of this book centers on Wolf’s ambitions for the future of young girls. She suggests guidelines for the combat against the patriarchal oppression. The guidelines lie in the promotion of change in deeply rooted and socially accepted ideology. These guidelines lead to the creation of a woman’s unique self-image and self-esteem.
The summary of the book can be shaped in the following way. Wolf finds the fashion and beauty industries as exploitative of women. She also claims the beauty myth can never be avoided as it extends into all areas of human activity.
The author highlights:
We should have the choice to do whatever we want with our faces and bodies without being punished by an ideology that is using attitudes, economic pressure, and even legal judgments regarding women’s appearance to undermine us psychologically and politically.
In other words, The Beauty Myth by Naomi is a bestselling classic. It redefines the view of the relationship between beauty and women. In today’s world, women have more power, legal recognition, and professional success than ever before. Today women speak up problems, act and make changes.
Alongside this obvious progress of the women’s movement, however, young girls and women live under a different kind of social control, which, may prove just as restrictive as the traditional image of homemaker and wife.
The obsession with physical perfection traps the modern woman. The beauty myth put them into an endless war where they try to fulfill society’s impossible definition of “the flawless beauty.” Due to its success, The New York Times named The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf one of the seventy most influential books of the twentieth century.
The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf: The Impact and Criticism
After looking through the summary you might feel like reading the book. It will change your life and redefine your perceptions about beauty.
You will realize you are not crazy, or silly when you like your wrinkles. They will seem to you very natural. You won’t feel uncomfortable about your skin color or crooked nose. You will love and yourself regardless the standards the society tries to impose on you.
The impact of The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf is the change of mindset it brings. Due to it, the book has won praise from many feminists.
Second-wave feminist, Germaine Greer, wrote that The Beauty Myth was “the most important feminist publication since The Female Eunuch“, and Gloria Steinem wrote, “The Beauty Myth is a smart, angry, insightful book, and a clarion call to freedom. Every woman should read it.”
British novelist Fay Weldon called the book “essential reading for the new woman”, and Betty Friedan wrote in Allure magazine that “The Beauty Myth and the controversy it is eliciting could be a hopeful sign of a new surge of feminist consciousness.”
However, the author faced criticism as well. In her “Who Stole Feminism?”, Christina Hoff Sommers criticized Wolf for publishing the claim that 150,000 women were dying every year from anorexia in the United States, writing that the actual figure was more likely to be somewhere between 100 and 400 per year.
Another a -2004-paper compared Wolf’s eating disorder statistics to other statistics and concluded that “on average, an anorexia statistic in any edition of The Beauty Myth should be divided by eight to get near the real statistic.” Schoemaker calculated that there are about 525 annual deaths from anorexia, 286 times less than Wolf’s statistic.
Interesting to Know…. What is Third Wave Feminism?
As you can read above Naomi Wolf is the spokesperson for the third-wave of feminism. What is it?
Third-wave feminism began in the early 1990s, in the United States. It continued until the fourth wave began in 2012. Established in the 1960s and 1970s as members of Generation X, and grounded in the civil-rights brought forward in the second wave, third-wave feminists embraced individualism and diversity and sought to redefine what it meant to be a feminist.
The third wave caused the emergence of the “Riot grrrl (girl)” feminist punk subculture in Olympia, Washington, in the early 1990s.
The organizers of the third-wave feminism thought that the gains of second-wave feminism were taken for granted, and the importance of feminism not understood. This was the biggest challenge of the movement.
Actually, they claimed that gender equality had already been achieved through the first two waves of feminism. However, further attempts to push for women’s rights were irrelevant and unnecessary. They even weren’t implemented in favor of women.
The third wave of feminism came to solve those problems. It focused on awareness-raising among young girls and women. The participants stated that “one’s ability to open their mind to the fact that male domination does affect the women of our generation, is what we need.”
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