Cover image for The beauty myth : how images of female beauty are used against women
The beauty myth : how images of female beauty are used against women
Wolf, Naomi.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : W. Morrow, 1991.
Physical Description:
348 pages ; 25 cm
Format :


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Material Type
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Item Holds
HQ1219 .W65 1991 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
HQ1219 .W65 1991 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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Explores the phenomenon of the violent backlash against feminism that uses images of female beauty as a political weapon against women's advancement.

Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

This valuable study, full of infuriating statistics and examples, documents societal pressure on women to conform to a standard form of beauty. Freelance journalist Wolf cites predominant images that negatively influence women--the wrinkle-free, unnaturally skinny fashion model in advertisements and the curvaceous female in pornography--and questions why women risk their health and endure pain through extreme dieting or plastic surgery to mirror these ideals. She points out that the quest for beauty is not unlike religious or cult behavior: every nuance in appearance is scrutinized by the godlike, watchful eyes of peers, temptation takes the form of food and salvation can be found in diet and beauty aids. Women are ``trained to see themselves as cheap imitations of fashion photographs'' and must learn to recognize and combat these internalized images. Wolf's thoroughly researched and convincing theories encourage rejection of unrealistic goals in favor of a positive self-image. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Journalist and poet Wolf presents a provocative and persuasive account of the pervasiveness of the beauty ideal in all facets of Western culture, including work, sex, and religion. In showing how this myth works against women and how women sabotage themselves by their complicity with this impossible standard, she discusses at length two unfortunate consequences: the growth in the number of bulimic and anorexic women and the increasing popularity of cosmetic surgery. The facts are certainly stacked to prove her thesis but, for the most part, provide convincing evidence. In her final chapter, Wolf instructs women on how to crack the beauty myth. Recommended, especially for women's studies collections.-- Anne Twitchell, National Re search Council Lib., Washington, D.C. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Wolf argues that the cult of female beauty has emerged as a formidable political weapon in resistance to the considerable economic, social, and political gains women in the "First World" have made recently. With the exception of some statistical information, Wolf presents almost nothing new on the subject of the beauty myth, leaving the enormous potential of her thesis undeveloped. The book's power derives primarily from the exuberant passion of its author. Would that an editor had encouraged Wolf to define her terms more precisely, to forego poorly supported and sweeping generalizations, and to distinguish between description and the genuine analysis of a phenomenon and its effects. Wolf also needs to reconsider her ahistorical posture: it is simply not true that the beauty myth is peculiar to the late 20th century. The references cited in the text vary in their relevance and usefulness, but the bibliography, although incomplete in some areas, will provide the reader with most of the classics on this issue. Community college level and up.-J. de Luce, Miami University (OH)