Laura Cumming

What Ills from Beauty Spring

The Beauty Myth

By Naomi Wolf

Chatto & Windus 320pp £13.95 order from our bookshop

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.

Sara Stewart


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