Your Source for Feminist Discourse

Beauty and Sexuality Pt.1

Happy Sunday Readers!

This past week I read Naomi Wolfe’s, profound novel, The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty are Used Against Women, originally published in 1991.  The novel explores a theory coined by Wolfe as the “beauty myth”. This theory encompasses the idea that while women possess greater economic and societal power than their foremothers, we are still oppressed by the mega engrossing beauty franchise. In short, we are worse off than our feminist ancestors because of our low self-esteem in how we perceive ourselves physically.  The pressures of trying to achieve the beauty ideal of today consistently bog us down. Wolfe breaks down the book into 6 parts to highlight the ways in which this beauty backlash is manifested throughout society.  For my next two blog posts, I’m going to focus on her chapter “ Sexuality”, which discusses the negative influence advertisements’ possess on women’s perception towards their own sexuality and in romantic partnerships.

images

This chapter was most relevant for me because it made me realize my own skewed perception of women’s sexuality. For instance, Wolfe uses the term “beauty pornography” to describe the numerous advertisements that feature beautiful and scantily clad women in sexual positions. These advertisements feature ideally attractive women with sexual face expressions and body positions. This “beauty pornography” Wolfe argues, sends an implicit message to women that their “beauty” is directly connected to their human sexuality. In other words, only the beautiful are deserve to feel pleasure and be loved.  This particular passage in the novel personally influenced me because I realized that many times I feel undeserving of love, affection, or even attention because of my appearance.  I feel inept or inadequate because I do not exactly resemble the photo shopped, airbrushed, and inhumanely perfect model in advertisements EVERYWHERE.

As if Britney really needs airbrushing...

As if Britney really needs airbrushing…

Wolfe continues to discuss how these perfect images of women negatively influence both men and women in relationships, which I will discuss in my next post. In the meantime let me know what you guys think! Do you ever feel unnecessarily inadequate by media’s depiction of women in advertisements?

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