The Beauty Myth Book Summary By Naomi Wolf

*This post contains affiliate links, and we may earn an affiliate commission without it ever affecting the price you pay.

The Beauty Myth (1991) is a must-read for those who want to better understand the anxiety that plagues women today, and the unfair expectations and norms created by a patriarchal society.

Author Naomi Wolf provides an illuminating look at the causes of this anxiety, revealing how a cult of beauty has been constructed to uphold oppressive gender roles while simultaneously providing economic gain.

By examining how marketing and media influence our beliefs about beauty, Wolf provides valuable insight on how these constructions can be challenged so that we can build a fairer world for women.

Through its incisive writing style, The Beauty Myth carefully examines our society to give readers an enriched understanding of gender dynamics in society today.

Book Name: The Beauty Myth (How Images of Beauty Are Used Against Women)

Author(s): Naomi Wolf

Rating: 4.5/5

Reading Time: 10 Minutes

Categories: Society & Culture

Author Bio

Naomi Wolf is one of the most renowned authors of our time.

She has an incredibly impressive academic background- graduating from Yale University and continuing on to become a Rhodes scholar at Oxford University.

Her works include The Beauty Myth, Promiscuities, Fire with Fire and Misconceptions; all of which have been internationally acclaimed bestsellers.

She has always been passionate about writing and her crafty twist on topics such as feminism, socio-cultural issues and personal development have gained critical acclaim worldwide.

Through her books and writings, Naomi Wolf has motivated countless readers to rediscover themselves and make a difference in the world around them.

Exploring The Myth Of Beauty: How The Cult Of Perfection Has Contributed To Subjugation, Inequality, And Low Self-Esteem

Do you ever stop to consider the phrase “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”? It suggests beauty is judged based on social norms and ideals, but what does that mean?

The Beauty Myth seeks to understand why our standards of beauty have shifted over time and how they are different in different societies.

More importantly, it reveals how this myth of beauty has been used throughout history as a way of perpetuating the subjugation of women to men.

This myth makes women feel like they need to buy makeup and clothes or even undergo plastic surgery in order to fit society’s idea of “beauty”.

So what causes these shifts in the definition of “beauty”? In this book, you’ll discover that when women began entering the workforce en masse, it further enforced the standard of ‘beauty’ that was imposed upon them by society.

Furthermore, The Beauty Myth explains how this mythical notion has helped create an income gap between men and women.

If you want to understand more about the social construct called beauty, then The Beauty Myth is certainly worth reading for insights into its power and influence over society—and why we must recognize it as a myth rather than reality.

How The Beauty Myth Keeps Women Trapped In A Self-Destructive Competition

The current standards of beauty that we see daily are politically charged and a powerful tool to keep women in place and maintain the patriarchy.

Despite decades of progress by the feminist movement, women are still heavily judged based on their appearance and how closely it meets an idealized standard of beauty.

This is what this beauty myth does: it perpetuates the idea that there is something inherently valuable about physical attractiveness, and that without it, a woman cannot achieve success or be worthy of attention.

This in turn keeps women locked in self-destructive competition with each other, as they strive to attain some version of this unattainable goal.

The beauty myth also serves to exacerbate any potential freedoms or power available to women, making them more vulnerable than ever before by constantly changing standards of beauty that must be met.

Before the industrial revolution, social value was based on tangible things like work aptitude or fertility, not merely physical appearance.

The industrial revolution opened up avenues for women which made them a threat—and so the idea had to be incorporated into society in order to ensure its own existence and remain powerful.

In conclusion—the current standards of beauty are used as a political means of controlling women and maintaining the patriarchy.

The Prevalence Of Professional Beauty Qualification Discriminates Against Working Women

The workplace is where the Beauty Myth system is nurtured and sustained.

This discriminatory system, which sees a woman’s appearance as her most valuable trait, has been particularly noticeable in the United States since World War II.

With an increase in the female workforce, male-dominated power structures felt threatened by this influx of women demanding equal opportunities, thus leading to the creation of system that would single out a woman’s looks.

This system, called Professional Beauty Qualification (PBQ) professions, operates on a ranking system that requires women to stay young and attractive if they want to keep their jobs.

There have been many instances where women have been fired for seemingly minor infractions such as “losing their Bunny Image” from Playboy clubs or maybe even aging too fast.

The New York State Human Rights Appeal Board deemed it permissible for employers to determine whether employees were pretty enough for their job roles.

What’s worse is that some workplaces actually penalize workers for being too attractive as well – Barnes v Costle ruled against a woman who was deemed to be “inviting sexual harassment” due to her looks – By contrast, there was Hopkins vs Price-Waterhouse whereby Ms Hopkins was denied partnership at an accounting firm because she wasn’t feminine or glamorous enough!

These absurd rules make it almost impossible for any women win within the PBQ framework..

This means that workplaces play an integral role in nurturing and sustaining this oppressiveBeauty Myth system.

The Beauty Myth Is Used To Keep Women In An Unempowered Place In Society

It’s no secret that the beauty myth is a powerful currency, and it’s fueled by advertisers who use images of “perfection” to sell their products.

Whether it be diet supplements, anti-aging creams or cosmetics, these companies promote the idea that one has to buy their products in order to achieve the standard of beauty that they put forward.

This perpetuates unattainable standards which cause many people to feel inferior and leads them to buying more products.

In fact, between 1968 and 1972, there was a 70% increase in diet related articles due to companies capitalizing on a woman’s insecurity about her appearance.

And by 1989, magazine revenue from cosmetic companies had skyrocketed up to $650 million.

The diet industry also saw hefty earnings – $33 billion annually.

Add this up with the $300 million gathered by cosmetic surgery and the $7 billion earned by pornography industry and you have yourself an unstoppable force driving society into an ever growing patriarchy.

The beauty myth is real and rooted deep within many women – regardless of their age or place of origin.

Companies have used this insecurity as a marketing device, thereby creating an invisible cage that not only holds down every other woman out there but also keeps them enslaved while promoting false ideals of “beauty” along the way.

The Harmful Effects Of The Beauty Myth On Women And Society: Discrimination, Unequal Pay, Isolation, And A Lack Of Female Solidarity

The beauty myth has dire consequences for women – physically, mentally and economically.

Physically, women are driven to unhealthy extremes in order to achieve the perfect body as dictated by the beauty myth.

This can lead to eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia, with 90-95% of those affected being female.

Mentally, the beauty myth sets up a divide amongst women and creates unhealthy competition rather than solidarity or sisterhood.

This often leads to negative language being used by women toward one another which further isolates them.

Finally, economically the current system heavily favors men making it more difficult for women to earn equal pay and benefits from their places of work including union membership – this can create a ‘feminization of poverty’ where working women struggle financially due to disparities in wages.

It is only when we break down these barriers set up by the beauty myth that we can reverse these serious and far reaching consequences for female workers around the globe.

How To Liberate Ourselves From The Oppressive Beauty Myth

Shattering the beauty myth is a process of awakening.

We must recognize that the beauty myth is a destructive, discriminatory and unfair double standard, propagated primarily by language presented to us from the cosmetic, food and other industries.

To change our perception of beauty and women, we have to become aware of all the forces that keep this myth alive.

The language and messaging used in ads for cosmetics clearly furthers this myth; using terms such as “very many”, “several” and “few” problematic facial lines suggests that there is no possibility of perfection when you are a woman.

They even go so far as to suggest that any expressions that take a toll on your face (such as laughing or squinting) is something to be ashamed of, rather than celebrated!

The food industry has also played its part in enforcing these messages via slogans designed to guilt-trip women into thinking they are wrong for taking pleasure in eating anything deemed off-limits.

Therefore, rejecting the beauty myth means overthrowing these prejudiced views!

Women should not feel obliged to fit into tight beauty standards but instead be free to dress up however they please; furthermore female solidarity should be fostered through mutual support and appreciation (not just towards men).

In summary, it’s time we take back control of our lives and break away from the oppressive influence of the beauty myth once and for all.

Wrap Up

In The Beauty Myth, author Naomi Wolf offers a powerful insight into how beauty has been used as a tool for oppression and domination.

She explains that men have kept this myth alive in order to keep women weak, vulnerable and divided by setting unattainable standards of beauty.

At the end of this book, Wolf’s final key message is to become aware of the beauty myth and fight against it.

This can be achieved by challenging narrow beauty ideals, celebrating diversity, and recognizing our individual strengths and talents rather than focusing on physical appearance.

With understanding comes strength – making us more able to resist pressure from society about what it means to be beautiful.

Arturo Miller

Hi, I am Arturo Miller, the Chief Editor of this blog. I'm a passionate reader, learner and blogger. Motivated by the desire to help others reach their fullest potential, I draw from my own experiences and insights to curate blogs.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.