The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf - review by Laura Cumming

Laura Cumming

What Ills from Beauty Spring

The Beauty Myth

By

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Western civilization offers no more commonplace or tedious litany than the conversation between a man and a woman in which the latter has encountered a nasty shock on the weighing scales. In vain he sympathises, as she proceeds from incredulity to rage and self pity. Struggling, he observes that she is gloriously unchanged, only to be reproached for his inattentiveness. Despairing, he utters exactly the wrong phrase, 'But I like you as you are', demonstrating conclusively that she is, in fact, obese. The man cannot win. The fat's in the fire, so to speak.

Naomi Wolfs laudable ambition is to explain why such an impasse occurs, why women apparently dedicate themselves to an ideal of beauty newly and mysteriously devised each season, passively suffering judgement based on these standards in their professional and social lives as though it was quite legitimate. Her argument is

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