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Beauty Myth

  • By: Elizabeth A. Wissinger
  • In: Encyclopedia of Consumer Culture
  • Edited by: Dale Southerton
  • Subject:Sociology of Consumption, Consumer Psychology, Consumer Culture

In her eponymous book, Naomi Wolf defines The Beauty Myth as “a violent backlash against feminism that uses images of female beauty as a political weapon against women's advancement” (1991, 9).

The beauty myth ties a woman's value and power to how attractive she is, and promises that if she can just attain “beauty,” then she will be happy. For Wolf, this promise is patently false, a political weapon used against women to keep them in their place. While this myth is as old as patriarchy, Wolf traces its most recent incarnation to the 1830s, when the cult of domesticity was born out of the Industrial Revolution, built on the male breadwinner/submissive female helpmate dyad, supporting new capitalist work arrangements. Since then, the myth has flourished ...

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