“Most urgently, 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.”
“Women have face-lifts in a society in which women without them appear to vanish from sight.”
“A consequence of female self-love is that the woman grows convinced of social worth. Her love for her body will be unqualified, which is the basis of female identification. If a woman loves her own body, she doesn’t grudge what other women do with theirs; if she loves femaleness, she champions its rights.
“What becomes of a man who acquires a beautiful woman, with her “beauty” his sole target? He sabotages himself. He has gained no friend, no ally, no mutual trust: She knows quite well why she has been chosen. He has succeeded in buying something: the esteem of other men who find such an acquisition impressive.”
― Naomi Wolf, The Beauty Myth
The fact is that women are able to view men just as men view women, as objects for sexual and aesthetic evaluation; we too are effortlessly able to choose the male “ideal” from a lineup and if we could have male beauty as well as everything else, most of us would not say no. But so what? Given all that, women make the choice, by and large, to take men as human beings first.
Tatiana Mamanova, a Soviet feminist, responding to a question about the difference between the West and Russia, replied, “The pornography… it’s everywhere, even on billboards… [it] is a different kind of assault. And it doesn’t feel like freedom to me”.”
Is the beauty myth good to men? It hurts them by teaching them how to avoid loving women. It prevents men from actually seeing women. It does not, contrary to its own professed ideology, stimulate and gratify sexual longing. In suggesting a vision in place of a woman, it has a numbing effect, reducing all senses but the visual, and impairing even that.
“Women are not wrong if they react instinctively – often jealously – against their partner’s interest in porn, since pornography is actually, neurologically, a woman’s destructive rival for her man’s sexual capabilities.”
“Men who read it [beauty pornography] don’t do so because they want women who look like that. The attraction of what they are holding is that it is not a woman, but a two-dimensional woman-shaped blank. The appeal of the material is not the fantasy that the model will come to life; it is precisely that she will not, ever. Her coming to life would ruin the vision. It is not about life.
Ideal beauty is ideal because it does not exist; The action lies in the gap between desire and gratification. Women are not perfect beauties without distance. That space, in a consumer culture, is a lucrative one. The beauty myth moves for men as a mirage, its power lies in its ever-receding nature. When the gap is closed, the lover embraces only his own disillusion.”
“Women are told for so long that our feelings—our internal sensations of pain, pleasure, joy, sadness, or anger—are too much, or wrong, or bad. So eventually we can’t stop thinking and thinking about these problems, trying to think them out, but we stop feeling our feelings about them.”
“What editors are obliged to appear to say that men want from women is actually what their advertisers want from women.”
“The last thing the consumer index wants men and women to do is to figure out how to love one another: The $1.5 trillion retail-sales industry depends on sexual estrangement between men and women, and is fueled by sexual dissatisfaction. Ads do not sell sex–that would be counterproductive, if it meant that heterosexual women and men turned to one another and were gratified. What they sell is sexual discontent.”
“The surgeons’ market is imaginary, since there is nothing wrong with women’s faces or bodies that social change won’t cure; so the surgeons depend for their income on warping female self-perception and multiplying female self-hatred.”
“To ask women to become unnaturally thin is to ask them to relinquish their sexuality.”