Summary of The Beauty Myth (Culture)

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‘The Beauty Myth’ is an obsession with physically looking ‘perfect’ and traps the modern woman in an endless cycle of hope, self-consciousness, and self-hatred as she tries to achieve what society has deemed "the flawless beauty" regardless of whether it is realistic or not. Naomi Wolf censures the exploitation of women by the fashion, beauty and advertising industries, particularly in women’s magazines as we delve deeper in to the chapter on ‘Culture’. She claims that as a result of being sequestered from the world and isolated from one another, the only real women’s space in modern mass culture where women can seek solidarity is through women’s magazines. Ironically, it is through the same myth that women are brought together and driven apart. These women may not share any particularly close relationship, but develop a sense of solidarity through sharing similar interests, agenda, or worldview. When a reader sees ‘The Face’, it is not because of how beautiful she looks, but the power of millions of other women seeing it and knowing it too. Wolf cites further evidence using magazines such as Vogue and Cosmopolitan (explained during group presentation). By investigating why women, unlike men, can easily succumb to such evils, Wolf provides some answers to this multifaceted issue by illustrating magazines as the only a vital piece of mass media that directly communicates with women, so they are very important to women despite the manipulative and condescending approach for which the advertisers persistently deploy; and consequently, women are also restrained by generations of poor education (ex. Heroine = beauty, but never both beauty and brains) and limited encouragement or opportunity for critical thinking (Ex. Career women were generally viewed negatively and ‘unhealthy’ especially from the advertisers’ point of view because they were ‘too critical’). With this
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