The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf

You want to know the scariest thing about this book? It was written nearly thirty years ago. It reads like its discussing the current obsessions, the modern compulsion, the contemporary disillusion that we as we are—women, men, people of any label or identity—are not enough. At least not yet. But if you’re sweating pounds at the gym everyday, applying this magical elixir that costs your entire paycheck, and beating your face with overpriced camouflage then, maybe, you will be enough for this world. Enough for society, to be social and happy, to have a job, a career that you love, to know what you love, to have someone to love you. But it’s a cycle of meeting society’s standards so that everything else in your life can be fulfilled.

Which is a bunch of bullshit, even as I write it, I know that it’s not true. That the contours of my face don’t equal the success I’ll have in life. That the sharpness of the line on my eyes doesn’t equate to the happiness I can experience. And the number on my pants isn’t the amount of floors I should be walking down to rejoin the world. But I believe it. And in some way, you do to.

That’s why you bought that cream that promises miracles it will never deliver on. That’s why you bought that product from the YouTuber who recommended it, if they have it, they like it, they have a good life, then if you have it, if you like it, you’ll have a good life too. That’s why you buy this random make-up tool, this facemask that will sit in your cabinet, these trinkets that holds literally no value but what the price tag says. Because you’re convinced, the more you have of items that make others happy, will make you happy too.

But we all know happiness doesn’t work that way. And if it does, you may need to re-examine your life.

Let’s take a blast to the past for a second.

In the nineties, plastic surgery was center stage for the United States. The Food and Drug Administration had just recognized the need for medical limitations and observations within the industry. It was also the focal point in healthcare discussions as millions of people were fighting for reconstructive surgery to be covered by their healthcare plans. Along with that, the ever favorite liposuction procedure was in its infancy. Plastic surgery was on the mind of our nation.

Now, thirty years later, plastic surgery is still on the mind. Although we’ve come out of the Hollywood secret touch-ups and tuck-ups era, there are the lip injections, the lipo, the built-in muscular physique, the butt and breast augmentation, the removal of ribs to make the hourglass figure more extreme, this eye staple, that nose slimmer, etc. etc. Anytime, any hour on any day, you could be searching the internet trolling for headlines and will probably find one about this A-D list celebrity having this menu of procedures. If your simply watching your favorite show on tv, there is an ad for this cream, this blush, this everything because makeup companies have become household names just as cleaning products always have been. They do the same, don’t they, make everything look better?

Same could be said for photoshop, and those are the images that are sold to us. Not the manmade ones, the computer generated ones, the ones that can only exist on a screen are the expectations we’re working towards. I makes absolutely no sense, and I understand the industry more after reading this book. But I got to say, I’m not sure how much my mind is changed. That I shouldn’t look the way models do on tv, that its not natural for this chest to waist ratio, for this thinness or facial look. I’m still going to work for it, I’m still going to believe that I’m not enough. Because the marketing of the superficial industries has ingrained itself a permanent position and perspective in our society. I am just another victim to it. So maybe I lied earlier, maybe that’s the scariest part about this book.

Or maybe, the scariest part is the part unwritten. What would the forward be, the continuation thirty years later, the difference in statistics of the people getting procedures, the amount of money spent each year to perfect themselves, how food industries have jumped on the trending bandwagons to promise superfoods that won’t ruin your waistline, how exercise as prescribed by doctors is also benefiting by the insecurities of millions. Is it possible to have a society without the beauty myth anymore?  Naomi Wolf, I think I need that forward.

This book is a definite read in my opinion.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s