The male attraction to visual stimuli has translated into an unfair demand on women to conform to a certain mould. Many women have convinced themselves that a disproportionately busty waif- like Barbie figure is the ideal for which they should strive.
Many of our sisters have experienced repeated bouts of depression as no diet or exercise can create that artificial photoshopped construct.
In her iconic book the Beauty myth,Naomi Wolf writes about the “beauty” which is used as a political weapon as well as a money-making tool that has disempowered women and has taken away the recent advantages that we have gained through the women’s liberation movement. Wolf also outlines the role played by the cosmetics, diet and cosmetic surgery industries in propagating and exploiting the beauty myth. These three multi-billion dollar industries relentlessly constrict women with ideas and notions of “perfection” and the need to aspire for unreachable constructs of “beauty”.
The fashion industry is another major contributor to the artificial constructs of beauty as it glamorises waif-like young “models” further adding to the pressure on women to recreate or adopt that look.
According to Wolf, contemporary ideals of beauty affect work, religion, hunger, violence and popular culture. She outlines the damaging effects of these “beauty ideals” on women’s bodies as they starve themselves in order to reduce body fat and/or undergo surgical procedures seeking to manipulate their reality. Wolf very ably explores the reason behind the underlying obsessions that have driven women to happily (and haplessly) conform to and participate in the mutilation of their own bodies.
In her 2009 speech at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas, the renown feminist Germaine Greer mused at how all of the advances that women have made on the path to equality with men have only resulted in women trying to emulate men. In agreement Wolf states that there are “vital lies” which had redefined beauty as a legitimate and necessary qualification for a woman’s rise in power. This vital lie … had to be masked by fitting it with the American dream that beauty can be earned by hard work and enterprise. For “the third lie, the working woman was told that she had to think about ‘beauty’ in a way that undermined step for step all the gains and successes of the women’s liberation movement.”
The historic exploitation of women in Western societies was a major factor leading to the birth of the women’s liberation movement. This movement, apparently hijacked into attempting to create an unnatural independence not only from men (husbands) but also from parents, siblings and friends has disadvantaged women by dismantling our natural human interdependence. Losing our interdependence and with that our previously strong family bonds, we have fallen victims to consumer society’s suggestions of what is beautiful or what is desirable. Therefore, we have replaced our complementary interdependence with a subjugating dependence on not so much men, but the image that
men might desire. Wolf’s “The Beauty Myth” confronts and challenges, the accumulated foundations of contemporary constructs of how a woman should look or how much she should weigh. It is a very important wake-up call that every women must heed in order to avoid the traps and pitfalls that confront us on a daily basis through billboards, TV shows, movies, magazines and other stimuli that compete for our time, attention and mostly money. I strongly recommend this book for every thinking woman.
This is an article that I wrote back in june and thought it was a great way to start this blog off .
“I’d rather be thought of as smart, capable, strong, and compassionate than beautiful. Those things all persist long after beauty fades.” “I’d rather be thought of as smart, capable, strong, and compassionate than beautiful. Those things all persist long after beauty fades.”
― Cassandra Duffy