Beauty is a thing that is supposed to be regarded as something beneficial for humans particularly women. However, because of beauty myths brought about by media advertisements, instead it became a harmful concept. In presenting this issue, this paper carries a report on Naomi Wolf’s The Beauty Myth and most importantly their damaging implications to women in order to emphasize that media’s wrong beauty representations are detrimental rather than beneficial to women.
Book Report on Naomi Wolf’s The Beauty Myth
The old cliché which says that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” no longer gains considerable significance in today’s modern and demanding world. This is due to the misleading and demeaning reality concerning ideas or images of how people are viewed and regarded to be beautiful. In this situation, it is the female population who is more affected hence an alarming and increased requirement for women to adhere to what the society dictates as a representation of beauty.
The practice is not generally detrimental because a continuous adherence to the standard of being beautiful is encouraging. However, harmful factors and implications exist when the idea to be beautiful opposed its very purpose to bring out the best in an individual particularly a woman and instead causes detriment and leads to disadvantages because of deviation from the natural interpretation of beauty. Human nature speaks of the presence and obviously the devotion to beauty. This holds true especially nowadays that humankind has evolved practically in all aspects. Hence, the yardsticks that comprise beauty and how to be beautiful have been remarkably modified in order to fit people’s ways of life.
Particularly for women, the essence of beauty goes beyond the inner characteristics but is most determined with what her occupation, tradition, faith and sexual preference call for. Most notably, the beauty of a woman now relies with what her physical or body attributes exemplify. In doing so, such principles and reflections unfortunately compel her to die to death just to be beautifully thin as well as be subjected with the pain and cruelty of going under the knife to both enhance her external features and survive the challenging public.
Exploiting on women’s preoccupation with their respective appearance, it is now essentially empirical to note that the ideas and images of the female population about beauty have never cease to be used against them. This is primarily attributed to the fact women’s beauty thoughts are, in fact, least based on logic and the rest are dependent with myths. Simply put, women are inclined to accept as true or not any representation of beauty without its rational evaluation.
In turn, both broadcast and print media particularly beauty and fashion publications such as magazine with its various forms of advertisements play an important function and enormous influence about how women carry and display themselves as beautiful. This is such a disturbing reality since media or magazine commercials are really not aimed to improve the beauty of women but are rather aimed for the benefit of concerned industries and products. Ultimately in the end, as women aspire for and carry out the need for them to be beautiful, they risk both their natural inner and outer loveliness to the dangers of beauty myths.
Wolf’s The Beauty Myth, an Overview
The presented issues and dilemmas are what a feminist writer has explicitly and successfully imparted in her daring and intriguing yet moving and an eye-opener book. In the literary work “The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty are Used Against Women,” by Naomi Wolf, the working theme concerning beauty falsehoods and illusions as well as how media such as beauty-related magazines employ said myths against or to the detriment of women have become the concrete and effective catalysts in the book.
In a contemporary setting where the existing standards of women go beneath what is expected, media advertisements such as beauty and fashion magazine commercials flow women’s lives and thoughts with idealistic and misleading representations of true beauty. Wolf made the public realize the destructive effects created by the tall, virtually made thin models that portray the current beauty make-over and led even the most beautiful woman doubt her look (Wolf, 1991).
The author effectively disputed that women’s lack of confidence are just deceitfully intensified by media particularly magazine images and worst is abused by supposedly diverse ways of diet regimens as well as the different industries of aesthetic and surgical procedures. The Wolf book noted with deep concern how in a woman’s daily life, she is offered and subjected with deceiving beauty myths allegedly to remedy her make-believe defects specifically body flaws. The truth, however, is that the said beauty illusions only lured women into a compulsive and fanatical as well as desperate and dangerous system of beautification which was created based upon an effort to attain an impractical beauty criteria. Hence, the book is best commendable with its successful dismissal of the misleading standards of beauty and instead recognition of the distinct and innate women’s beauty (Wolf, 1991).
The Beauty Myth Chapter Summaries
A summary of every chapter of the Wolf book will indeed substantiate what its author aimed to impart. Prior to chapter presentations, the author showed and confirmed how the media ideas and images of beauty apparently became weapons of destruction which were used against women and for them to loose their self-confidence. This is primarily because of the undeniable fact that nobody, even a woman for that matter, who is beautifully perfect or flawless and can survive an idealistic beauty standard.
Additionally, the book concurred that beauty definitely has a valid function in all persons’ lives and the possibility of attraction to each person. However, Wolf clarified that the predicament lies when beauty is characterized not in its natural nature but unfortunately based from the external features of women being extremely skinny, spirited and young-looking which are all, in fact, impossible for women who are in good physical and even psychological states.
The Beauty Myth dealt with six life themes wherein each of the area presented dilemmas as consequences of the beauty fallacies. A chapter is allotted for every subject matter hence each can be discussed on its own. When it is incorporated with the rest they formed a general and comprehensive substance relating to Wolf’s positions about beauty myths and their harmful implications as media’s misleading beauty images endangering women. The six chapters were simply entitled as: work, culture, religion, sex, hunger and violence (Wolf, 1991).
In Chapter 1, Wolf presented how the perspective on beauty was utilized to the detriment of women as far as the aspect of work or organizational environment is concern. The book plainly yet helpfully provided the readers with the premise those beautiful women employees are not seriously considered in their respective work setting. This means that the labor force regard beautiful women-members of corporations as nothing but a pretty face. It is sad to note that a woman’s beauty did not play a positive part in her professional growth by instead hinderer her from proving her worth to a company.
On the other hand, if a woman worker is not that pretty and even falls below the idealistic standard of beauty, her looks is taken against her. This is because as a corporate employee, it is expected that one exemplifies a presentable personality and if not, she is legally held liable since her unattractive personality is perceived to be not contributing to the office growth. But then again, no one is to be singled as responsible for any form of harassment such as sexual abuse but the woman employee herself if she is beautiful. And it is the other way around when a woman lacks beauty because any violation against her will be doubted. In fact, a number of court cases were women expectedly lost supported these conditions that Wolf has clearly revealed (Wolf, 1991).
Culture as the book’s second chapter centered on the function of media particularly magazine advertisements apparently as the only authority in forming women’s lives. This situation is done by having women as the main characters commercials about beauty and fashion merchandise. In effect, women then are subjected to terrible feeling because of the deceiving beauty images that magazine advertisements provide which are indeed the opposite of what an average woman really looks. This chapter also noted how advertisers with their respective sales personnel and models force magazine publications into this system. This is because of the underlying principle that once a woman feels awful about the way how she looks then the time for her to spend her fortunes and even hard-earned income on various fashion and beauty-enhancing products (Wolf, 1991).
In real life, this pertains to the usual catch phrases employed by advertising people in making their products sell to women. An example on this misleading beauty magazine commercial is about a hair conditioner product which is supposedly intended for nurturing hair roots and eventually creates flexible, strong and glossy hair for women. This is totally misleading as nourishing conditioner is; in fact, useless for women because human hair is composed of lifeless epidermis hence no longer needs such beauty product (“Beauty Ads Pull Women’s Legs Selling Unnatural, Useless Products,” 2006).
In the next chapter, Wolf effectively persuaded the public with the significant role of religion as one of the beauty myths. The book further disputed that a woman’s aspiration for beauty and its related components such as thinness as well as preferred complexion and other body features have substituted her ultimate pursuit for ethical righteousness and even divine salvation. The author likewise disclosed how the said pursuit for an ideal beauty has created similar implications that religion has previously done which is of maintaining women submissiveness or compliance and obsession about beauty (Wolf, 1991).
Sex was another part of beauty myth which was provided with its particular chapter as the book showed how such misleading representations about beauty restrained women’s sexuality and sexual inclination. This is by making a number of women very cognizant of themselves to be liberally involved in sex or sexual act with ease. Relatively, it is in this chapter that Wolf discussed about women’s extreme dieting and even starving themselves have apparently resulted into retreating sex drive and sex appeal to a partner. In effect, such beauty myth also harms men because this makes them ignorant of the true essence and beauty of women. This happens as men perform the role as evaluator of the beauty of their wives or significant others rather than effectively being women’s partner adding negative effects to their sexual bonding (Wolf, 1991).
The second to the last chapter is about hunger which was regarded as beauty myth which persuades women to voluntarily feel starvation and even let themselves hungry to death. This condition becomes evident with the fact that women take food low in calories which made them more deprive compared with victims of food crisis in third-world nations. The outcome of this beauty illusion is the strange weight loss or gain as well as the various manifestations of eating disorders such as obsessive eating, bulimia and anorexia. This was highlighted with Wolf’s personal account of her struggle with anorexia (Wolf, 1991).
The last chapter concerns violence as beauty myth. The book explained it does not pertain to domestic hostility but instead with self-imposed cruelty that aesthetic and surgical operations create. This is where violence sets in because such beauty fallacy results into agonizing and destructive effects to women’s bodies. This chapter successfully imparted the error by women by jeopardizing their supposed erotic or sexual reactions which disappear and even inviting death because of women’s wrong practice of going under the knife in exchange of beauty and body enhancements. This section of the book somehow presumed that because of this violent beauty myth, the society indicates that women are better off face risks and their deaths rather contrasting the idealistic nature of beauty (Wolf, 1991).
The Beauty Myth by Wolf is a commendable book for it effectively debated and left a realization among people that the society’s wrong illustrations of beauty are only attributed to beauty myths brought about by media advertisements. Beauty myths have damaged the worth of women because such representations do nothing but harm the welfare of the female population as well as the people who surround them and the communities where they belong.
Pravda.ru Health. (2006). Beauty Ads Pull Women’s Legs Selling Unnatural, Useless Products. Retrieved January 9, 2009, from http://www.emaxhealth.com/57/8204.html
Wolf, N. (1991). The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty are Used Against Women. New York, NY: HarperCollins.