Who is she?
Published in 1991, The Beauty Myth is widely regarded as the most influential feminist work since Germaine Greer’s The Female Eunuch. In a nutshell, it asserts that despite the gains women have made in society, we still have to adhere to a prescribed concept of beauty – and that ultimately keeps us oppressed. Or as Naomi says, that beauty is the “last, best belief system that keeps male dominance intact”.
The book was an international bestseller and with good reason – it spoke to a generation of women who had made progress in so many ways, and yet were still under the thumb of the ole patriarchy. Think dieting, skincare, fashion, plastic surgery, women’s magazines, eating disorders. There are a lot of powerful industries who have a vested interest in women feeling ugly all the time.
Why should we thank her?
Naomi kick-started an entire generation of women to get on board with the idea of feminism. She challenged the very notion of women’s beauty and why it existed. She inspired a raft of other writers to challenge patriarchal structures of modern society and create a new voice for feminism in a modern world.
And, she changed my life. The Beauty Myth changed everything about how I saw the world. Sadly, it’s as relevant now as it was in 1991. Even more so, actually. Read it.
“Women’s identity must be premised upon our ‘beauty’ so that we will remain vulnerable to outside approval, carrying the vital sensitive organ of self-esteem exposed to the air.”