Lani's Reviews > The Beauty Myth

The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf
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it was ok
bookshelves: non-fiction, feminism, psychology

Jesus, I FINALLY finished this book... UGH.

I feel like I have been extremely negative about the last few books I've reviewed, so it's a shame that this is the other one I have left to write up. Because those other books were the ones I was reading to avoid this one!

Naomi Wolf is exactly the reason I don't read much in the ways of feminist tracts. Blahblahblah male conspiracy blahblahblah. It's a shame because some of her points ARE valid and thought-provoking...

The concept of the Beauty Myth hardly needs explaining to most women. I think most self-aware Western women are at this point aware of the manipulation and self-hatred that we are surrounded by on a daily basis. Unfortunately, I think much of the book points the blame outward instead of inward. We can only blame "the patriarchy" for so much. I am more than aware of my own hand in the Beauty Myth and my own unhappiness.

Wolf's book is broken into several chapters, the first few of which I found obnoxious and tired. The book is written in a very academic style, and just beats a dead horse to a pulp. The last few chapters did finally begin to perk up - as I had hoped - as Wolf discussed Violence and Culture and their effects on modern women.

I don't have the energy to put into a good long review of this book, and I'm not sure I even want to waste any more of my time on it anyway. I think slogging through the first 2/3rds of the book was POSSIBLY worth it for some of the later chapters, but I'm not sure I would recommend it to anyone.
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Reading Progress

September 9, 2008 – Shelved
September 9, 2008 – Shelved as: non-fiction
Started Reading
September 20, 2008 – Finished Reading
March 9, 2012 – Shelved as: feminism
March 29, 2013 – Shelved as: psychology

Comments Showing 1-3 of 3 (3 new)

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Gary I had much the same take on this book. I'm reading it for a Philosophy class on Beauty and Art. Thankfully I'm done. I did learn some things from the book, but I found it dated. Your right on the last couple chapters are much better than those that proceeded it.
I also had to read Nancy Etcoff's book The Survival of the Prettiest, which I found much more scientific and compelling.
If you have a recommendation for a recent book on this subject, please send it along.

Lani I don't have any suggestions that I can think of that have been in exactly the same vein, but some feminist-ish books that I have enjoyed have been... The Body Project, Schoolgirls (Peggy Orenstein, AWESOME BOOK, but about younger women), a Gloria Steinhem anthology (hit or miss, but some enjoyable bits), and Bitch (Elizabeth Wurtzel, also very hit or miss, but pretty contemporary, lots of pop culture). I'd have to go check the bookshelves downstairs for any others. Pretty in Punk is an interesting halfway decent academic analysis of punk women - not great, but a unique perspective.

Oh! I also recently read a compilation of BUST! magazine, a 10th anniversary thing. Articles from their past 10 years, so again a fairly recent one, but wide variety of topics and range of quality. Another similarly decent collection is She's Such a Geek which I enjoyed for its variety of perspectives on female nerdiness.

I'm also fascinated by the topic of women in Islam and have read lots of books on that - see my islam shelf. An academic one, and rather related to the Beauty and Art topic (with an Eastern flavor), would be a book by Fatima Mernissi called... I think, Scherezade Goes West. It is pretty short, but quite an interesting take on the hypersexuality applied to Eastern women and the harem myth. I had a lot of fun reading it.

Apologies for vague descriptions, but I suspect this will make for a fruitful Amazon search...

Bad Girl Bex Great review! Your thoughts echoed my own sentiments perfectly!

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