The Beauty Myth

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In The Beauty Myth, Naomi Wolf argues that “beauty” does not objectively or universally exist. Rather, it is a political tool used to repress women and, thus, maintain masculine domination, as evidenced by the strict bodily standards imposed by cultural institutions such as fashion and the greater magnitude of body projects aimed at women. Western consumer culture directs more attention to the looks of women’s bodies than men’s. In the pursuit of beauty, women engage in body regimes to cultivate their physiques at the disproportionate expense of their time, money, and other interests.

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Wolf speaks of this cycle of cosmetics, beauty aids, diets, and exercise fanaticism that serves to (1) imprison women in their bodies, bodies that continually require new products and procedures to repair any possible “imperfections,” and (2) perpetuate a normalized discontentment toward women’s bodies by constructing an ideal that is far from the normal, natural body. In this system, women become objects in their own projects of becoming.

Where do you see this myth in action?

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