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"The ideal of the time — a gaunt, yet full-breasted Caucasian, not often found in nature — was assumed by the mass media, and often by magazine readers and movie watchers as well, to be eternal, transcendent. It seemed important beyond question to try somehow to live up to that ideal." Naomi WOLF - The beauty myth, p. 2-3

Voorkant Wolf 'The beauty myth - How images of beauty are used against women' Naomi WOLF
The beauty myth - How images of beauty are used against women
Pymble etc.: HarperCollins, 2002, 1991/1; 368 blzn. (epub)
ISBN-13: 978 00 6051 2187

(1) Introduction [van 2002]

Wolfs boek maakte in 1991 heel wat discussie los, waarbij door de critici in de VS vooral op de persoon gespeeld werd en nauwelijks ingegaan werd op haar argumenten. Vrouwen die haar persoonlijk schreven waren juist erg dankbaar voor de inzichten die ze bood.

"Frequently, commentators, either deliberately or inadvertently, though always incorrectly, held that I claimed women were wrong to shave their legs or wear lipstick. This is a misunderstanding indeed, for what I support in this book is a woman’s right to choose what she wants to look like and what she wants to be, rather than obeying what market forces and a multibillion dollar advertisesing industry dictate.
Overall, though, audiences (more publicly than privately) seemed to feel that questioning beauty ideals was not only unfeminine but almost un-American. For a reader in the twenty-first century this may be hard to believe, but way back in 1991, it was considered quite heretical to challenge or call into question the ideal of beauty that was, at that time, very rigid." [mijn nadruk] (2)

"Women who complained about the beauty myth were assumed to have a personal shortcoming themselves: they must be fat, ugly, incapable of satisfying a man, “feminazis,” or — horrors — lesbians. The ideal of the time — a gaunt, yet full-breasted Caucasian, not often found in nature — was assumed by the mass media, and often by magazine readers and movie watchers as well, to be eternal, transcendent. It seemed important beyond question to try somehow to live up to that ideal." [mijn nadruk] (2-3)

"In short, it was not commonly understood at that time that ideals didn’t simply descend from heaven, that they actually came from somewhere and that they served a purpose. That purpose, as I would then explain, was often a financial one, namely to increase the profits of those advertisers whose ad dollars actually drove the media that, in turn, created the ideals. The ideal, I argued, also served a political end. The stronger women were becoming politically, the heavier the ideals of beauty would bear down upon them, mostly in order to distract their energy and undermine their progress." [mijn nadruk] (3)

Mensen hebben intussen geleerd om wat beter met al die media om te gaan, maar:

"In spite of this newly developed media literacy, however, I’ve also noticed that it is now an increasingly sexualized ideal that younger and younger girls are beginning to feel they must live up to. The notorious Calvin Klein ad campaigns eroticized sixteen-year-olds when I was a teenager, then eroticized fourteen-year-old models in the early nineties, then twelve-year-olds in the late nineties. GUESS Jeans ads now pose what look like nine-year-olds in provocative settings. And the latest fashions for seven- and eight- year-olds re-create the outfits of pop stars who dress like sex workers. Is this progress? I doubt it." [mijn nadruk] (3-4)

[M.a.w.: het ene setje waarden voor hoe je er uit hoort te zien is gewoon vervangen door een ander en nog gevaarlijker setje waarmee jongeren lastig gevallen worden. En het doel is nog steeds om een hoop geld te verdienen aan jongeren, ook al gaat dat ten koste van de jongeren.]

Over het algemeen ziet Wolf wel vooruitgang sinds het verschijnen van de eerste druk van haar boek, bv. w.b. borstimplantaten, anorexia/bullimia, ouder worden, bescherming van consumenten tegen misleidende reclames van de 'beauty industry', en zo verder. Vrouwen hebben wat meer ruimte gemaakt om hun eigen keuzes te maken. Maar in grote lijnen is er nog steeds sprake van dezelfde mythe en er komen bovendien vaak nieuwe mythen bovendrijven. Zo is het probleem uitgebreid naar mannen die nu ook lastig gevallen worden met de schoonheidsmythe voor mannen.

(9) The Beauty Myth [vanaf hier de tekst van 1991]

Sinds de 70-er jaren hebben vrouwen op allerlei terreinen een gelijkwaardige plaats ingenomen in de samenleving. Maar niet alles is rozengeur en maneschijn:

"More women have more money and power and scope and legal recognition than we have ever had before; but in terms of how we feel about ourselves physically, we may actually be worse off than our unliberated grandmothers. Recent research consistently shows that inside the majority of the West’s controlled, attractive, successful working women, there is a secret “underlife” poisoning our freedom; infused with notions of beauty, it is a dark vein of self-hatred, physical obsessions, terror of aging, and dread of lost control. (...) It has grown stronger to take over the work of social coercion that myths about motherhood, domesticity, chastity, and passivity, no longer can manage. It is seeking right now to undo psychologically and covertly all the good things that feminism did for women materially and overtly."(10-11)

Om wat voor waarden gaat het hier?

"The beauty myth tells a story: The quality called “beauty” objectively and universally exists. Women must want to embody it and men must want to possess women who embody it. This embodiment is an imperative for women and not for men, which situation is necessary and natural because it is biological, sexual, and evolutionary: Strong men battle for beautiful women, and beautiful women are more reproductively successful. Women’s beauty must correlate to their fertility, and since this system is based on sexual selection, it is inevitable and changeless. None of this is true. “Beauty” is a currency system like the gold standard. Like any economy, it is determined by politics, and in the modern age in the West it is the last, best belief system that keeps male dominance intact. In assigning value to women in a vertical hierarchy according to a culturally imposed physical standard, it is an expression of power relations in which women must unnaturally compete for resources that men have appropriated for themselves." [mijn nadruk] (12)

[Hm, iets te simpel. Zelfs in mijn jeugd was het uiterlijk van een jongen al bijzonder bepalend voor sociaal succes en zo verder. Ook jongens hadden last van bepaalde verwachtingen ten aanzien van uiterlijk - het knappe gezicht, de gespierde stoere man. En erger nog: vrouwen liepen net zo hard met die waarden over mannelijkheid weg als mannen met de waarden voor uiterlijke schoonheid bij vrouwen. En ook dat lijkt in 60 jaar niet veranderd te zijn. Misschien zijn de scherpe kantjes er van af, maar het bestaat allemaal nog steeds, er is niet wezenlijk iets veranderd ten aanzien van de verwachtingen over hoe mannen en vrouwen er uit horen te zien en zich horen te gedragen. Die schoonheidsmythe is niet alleen een onderdrukkingsinstrument van mannen, maar ook van vrouwen, en het zijn niet alleen de vrouwen die er mee onderdrukt worden. Zoals Wolf in de editie van 2002 ook zelf aanduidt.]

[Dat schoonheidsidealen niet objectief of universeel zijn mag dan waar zijn, maar BINNEN een bepaalde cultuur zijn ze desondanks vrijwel net zo dwingend. Het voelt objectief, al is het dat niet. En natuurlijk heeft Klein gelijk om nog eens te benadrukken dat het allemaal niets te maken heeft met genen en evolutie en dergelijke.]

"If the beauty myth is not based on evolution, sex, gender, aesthetics, or God, on what is it based? It claims to be about intimacy and sex and life, a celebration of women. It is actually composed of emotional distance, politics, finance, and sexual repression. The beauty myth is not about women at all. It is about men’s institutions and institutional power. The qualities that a given period calls beautiful in women are merely symbols of the female behavior that that period considers desirable: The beauty myth is always actually prescribing behavior and not appearance." [mijn nadruk] (13-14)

"And the unconscious hallucination grows ever more influential and pervasive because of what is now conscious market manipulation: powerful industries — the $33-billion-a-year diet industry, the $20-billion cosmetics industry, the $300-million cosmetic surgery industry, and the $7-billion pornography industry — have arisen from the capital made out of unconscious anxieties, and are in turn able, through their influence on mass culture, to use, stimulate, and reinforce the hallucination in a rising economic spiral." [mijn nadruk] (17)

(20) Work

[Ik weet niet of je waarden over uiterlijk zo gemakkelijk kunt toeschrijven aan mannelijke dominantie als Wolf doet. Mannen worden er ook mee lastig gevallen. Onder andere door vrouwen. Is dat ook machtsuitoefening? Kijk naar de volgende uitspraak:]

"Employers did not simply develop the beauty backlash because they wanted office decoration. It evolved out of fear. That fear, from the point of view of the power structure, is firmly grounded. The beauty backlash is indeed absolutely necessary for the power structure’s survival. Women work hard — twice as hard as men."(22)

[Maar dat betreft ook huishoudelijk werk en opvoeding en zo. En we hadden het over het bedrijfsleven waar mannen bang zouden zijn voor de vrouwen. Het is geen zuivere redenenering en zo zie ik er meer.]

"Though a woman does full-time paid work, she still does all or nearly all the unpaid work that she used to."(29)

[Dat is zeker waar en daarin is misschien ook wel het minste veranderd. Maar waarom wordt de opvallende instroom van vrouwen in het onderwijs en in alle mogelijke betaalde maatschappelijke en bedrijfsmatige functies beschreven als iets wat mannen zo zou bedreigen dat ze de 'beauty backlash' in het leven zouden moeten roepen? Zit hier weer de 'American bias'? Inmiddels is het zo vanzelfsprekend dat vrouwen hetzelfde werk doen als mannen, ik begrijp het probleem niet. Of is het gewoon 1991 en herken ik dat niet omdat we zo veel jaren verder zijn?]

"What is happening now is that a parody of the BFOQ [bona fide occupational qualification - GdG] — what I’ll call more specifically the PBQ, or professional beauty qualification — is being extremely widely institutionalized as a condition for women’s hiring and promotion. By taking over in bad faith the good-faith language of the BFOQ, those who manipulate the professional beauty qualification can defend it as being nondiscriminatory with the disclaimer that it is a necessary requirement if the job is to be properly done. (...)
(1) “Beauty” had to be defined as a legitimate and necessary qualification for a woman’s rise in power. (2) The discriminatory purpose of vital lie number one had to be masked (especially in the United States, with its responsiveness to the rhetoric of equal access) by fitting it firmly within the American dream: “Beauty” can be earned by any woman through hard work and enterprise. Those two vital lies worked in tandem to let the use of the PBQ by employers masquerade as a valid test of the woman’s merit and extension of her professional duties. (3) The working woman was told she had to think about “beauty” in a way that undermined, step for step, the way she had begun to think as a result of the successes of the women’s movement. This last vital lie applied to individual women’s lives the central rule of the myth: For every feminist action there is an equal and opposite beauty myth reaction. In the 1980s it was evident that as women became more important, beauty too became more important. The closer women come to power, the more physical self-consciousness and sacrifice are asked of them. “Beauty” becomes the condition for a woman to take the next step. You are now too rich. Therefore, you cannot be too thin." [mijn nadruk] (28)

"The transfer is complete — and, coincidentally, harmful — when through this dream, women’s minds are persuaded to trim their desires and self-esteem neatly into the discriminatory requirements of the workplace, while putting the blame for the system’s failures on themselves alone.
Women accepted the professional beauty qualification more quietly than other labor pools have reacted to unreasonable, ricocheting, unnegotiated employer demands."(29-30)

[Ja, maar waarom? Waarom worden vrouwen hier als slachtoffers neergezet? Ze zijn er in geslaagd zich los te maken van alle mogelijke belemmerende vooroordelen en voorwaarden van de kant van mannen. Waarom dan niet waar het gaat over uiterlijk, iets wat ook nog niet eens zo fundamenteel is als niet kunnen studeren of niet kunnen werken? Waarom slaagden de mannen er in vrouwen aan zichzelf te laten twijfelen door het over uiterlijk te hebben en een aantal waarden daarover rond te gillen? Waarom zou je mannen op dat punt ineens wel serieus nemen? Waarom zouden vrouwen die er in slagen zich zo goed te emanciperen zich laten aanpraten dat hun uiterlijk het belangrijkst is van alles? ]

"Where did the PBQ begin? It evolved, like the beauty myth itself, alongside women’s emancipation, and radiates outward to accompany women’s professional enfranchisement. It spreads, with women’s professionalization, out of American and Western European cities into smaller towns; from the First World to the Third World; and West to East. With the Iron Curtain drawn back, we are due to see an acceleration of its effects in the Eastern bloc countries. Its epicenter is Manhattan, where many of the women who have risen highest in the professional hierarchies are concentrated.
It started in the 1960s as large numbers of educated middle-class young women began to work in cities, living alone, between graduation and marriage. A commercial sexualized mystique of the airline stewardess, the model, and the executive secretary was promoted simultaneously. The young working woman was blocked into a stereotype that used beauty to undermine both the seriousness of the work that she was doing and the implications of her new independence."(31)

"The Appeals Board identified in its ruling a concept that it called “standards of near perfection.” In a court of law, to talk about something imaginary as if it is real makes it real. Since 1971, the law has recognized that a standard of perfection against which a woman’s body is to be judged may exist in the workplace, and that if she falls short of it, she may be fired. A “standard of perfection” for the male body has never been legally determined in the same way. While defined as materially existing, the female standard itself has never been defined. This case lay the foundations of the legal maze into which the PBQ would evolve: A woman can be fired for not looking right, but looking right remains open to interpretation." [mijn nadruk] (33)

[Typisch de VS, lijkt me.]

"If a single standard were applied equally to men as to women in TV journalism, most of the men would be unemployed. But the women beside them need youth and beauty to enter the same soundstage. (...) With youth and beauty, then, the working woman is visible, but insecure, made to feel her qualities are not unique. But, without them, she is invisible — she falls, literally, “out of the picture.”"(34)

"Since there is nothing “objective” about beauty, the power elite can, whenever necessary, form a consensus to strip “beauty” away. To do that to a woman publicly from a witness stand is to invite all eyes to confirm her ugliness, which then becomes the reality that all can see."(36)

"Defenders of Judge Stevens’s ruling justified it on the grounds that it was not sex discrimination but market logic. If an anchorperson doesn’t bring in the audiences, he or she has not done a good job. The nugget hidden here as it was applied to women — bring in audiences, sales, clients, or students with her “beauty” — has become the legacy of the Craft case for working women everywhere.
The outcome of the trial was one of those markers in the 1980s that a woman may have witnessed, and felt as a tightening around the neck, and knew she had to keep still about. When she read the summation, she knew that she had to distance herself from her knowledge of how much she was Christine Craft. She might have reacted by starting a new diet, or buying expensive new clothes, or scheduling an eyelift. Consciously or not, though, she probably reacted; the profession of “image consultant” grew eightfold over the decade. Women and work and “beauty” outside the sex professions fused on the day Craft lost her case, and a wider cycle of diseases was initiated. It will not, the woman might have told herself, happen to me."(37)

[Dit soort rechtspraak waarbij een werkgever altijd gelijk krijgt en vrouwen kan discrimineren omdat ze te sexy of te weinig sexy, te vrouwelijk of te weinig vrouwelijk, te oud of juist te jong zijn, komt veel voor in de VS, maar Wolf laat zien dat er een parallel is in de UK. De vooroordelen van de vaak mannelijke rechters zijn ontstellend. Als gevolg van dit soort rechtspraak kunnen werkgevers van vrouwen bepaalde uiterlijke kenmerken eisen of ze juist ontslaan op grond van bepaalde uiterlijke kenmerken terwijl die eisen nooit gesteld worden aan mannen. Ik kan me wel enigszins voorstellen dat Wolf dit verder vertaald als een samenzwering van het mannenbolwerk tegenover vrouwen waarbij het uiterlijk van die vrouwen gebruikt wordt om ze klein te houden of te krijgen. Maar dat is et zo goed een valkuil. Niet alle mannen zitten in machtsposities.]

"With these rulings in place, social permission was granted for the trickle-down effect of the PBQ. It spread to receptionists and art gallery and auction house workers; women in advertising, merchandising, design, and real estate; the recording and film industries; to women in journalism and publishing.
Then to the service industries: prestige waitresses, bartenders, hostesses, catering staff. These are the beauty-intensive jobs that provide a base for the ambitions of the rural, local, and regional beauties who flow into the nation’s urban centers and whose sights are set on “making it” in the display professions — ideally to become one of the 450 fulltime American fashion models who constitute the elite corps deployed in a way that keeps 150 million American women in line. (The model fantasy is probably the most widespread contemporary dream shared by young women from all backgrounds.)
Then the PBQ was applied to any job that brings women in contact with the public.(...)
Then it was applied to any job in which a woman faces one other man.(...)
Is it any surprise that, two decades into the legal evolution of the professional beauty qualification, working women are tense to the point of insanity about their appearance? Their neuroses don’t arise out of the unbalanced female mind, but are sane reactions to a deliberately manipulated catch-22 in the workplace. Legally, women don’t have a thing to wear." [mijn nadruk] (41-42)

[En dan komt dus die slachtoffer-conclusie weer naar voren. Ja, maar: waarom is er dan geen feministische beweging die de vloer aanveegt met dat soort rechtspraak en met dat soort werkgevers en hun discriminatie? Dat begrijp ik niet.]

"The aspiring woman does not have to do it if she has a choice. She will have a choice when a plethora of faculties in her field, headed by women and endowed by generations of female magnates and robber baronesses, open their gates to her; when multinational corporations led by women clamor for the skills of young female graduates; when there are other universities, with bronze busts of the heroines of half a millennium’s classical learning; when there are other research-funding boards maintained by the deep coffers provided by the revenues of female inventors, where half the chairs are held by women scientists. She’ll have a choice when her application is evaluated blind."(47-48)

"The professional beauty qualification works smoothly to put back into employment relations the grounds for exploitation that recent equal opportunity laws have threatened. It gives employers what they need economically in a female work force by affecting women psychologically on several levels.
The PBQ reinforces the double standard. Women have always been paid less than men for equal work, and the PBQ gives that double standard a new rationale where the old rationale is illegal.
Men’s and women’s bodies are compared in a way that symbolizes to both the comparison between men’s and women’s careers. Aren’t men, too, expected to maintain a professional appearance? Certainly: They must conform to a standard that is well groomed, often uniformly clothed, and appropriate to their context. But to pretend that since men have appearance standards it means that the genders are treated equally is to ignore the fact that in hiring and promotion, men’s and women’s appearances are judged differently; and that the beauty myth reaches far beyond dress codes into a different realm."(48)

"How can a woman believe in merit in a reality like this? A job market that rewards her indirectly as if she were selling her body is simply perpetuating the traditional main employment options for women — compulsory marriage or prostitution — more politely and for half the pay. The pay-to-effort ratio at the top of the display professions, of which women are kept well-informed (“it’s really gruelling under those hot lights”), is a caricature of the real relation of women’s work to their pay. The gross high pay of professional beauties is a false gloss over women’s actual economic situation. Hyping fantasies of discovery in the overpaid display professions, the dominant culture helps employers avoid organized resistance to the repetitiveness and low pay of real women’s real work. With the aspirational link of the women’s magazines in between, women learn unworthiness. The sense of professional entitlement a worker acquires from expecting a fair reward for a job well done thus remains conveniently distant from the expectations of working women."(50-51)

(58) Culture

"Given few role models in the world, women seek them on the screen and the glossy page. This pattern, which leaves out women as individuals, extends from high culture to popular mythology: “Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at. This determines not only the relations of men to women, but the relation of women to themselves.” Critic John Berger’s well-known quote has been true throughout the history of Western culture, and it is more true now than ever." [mijn nadruk] (58)

[Dat is erg eenzijdig. Maar ik neem aan dat dat standpunt indertijd meer gold dan het nu geldt. Voor tegenwoordig geldt: Alsof vrouwen niet naar mannen kijken en alsof dat niet maakt dat mannen zelfbewust naar zichzelf kijken met het gevoel 'ben ik wel aantrekkelijk genoeg.' Ik zal ik de eerste zijn om toe te geven dat de druk ook nu nog steeds het allermeest bij meisjes en vrouwen ligt.]

"Women are mere “beauties” in men’s culture so that culture can be kept male. When women in culture show character, they are not desirable, as opposed to the desirable, artless ingenue. A beautiful heroine is a contradiction in terms, since heroism is about individuality, interesting and ever changing, while “beauty” is generic, boring, and inert."(59)

"Culture stereotypes women to fit the myth by flattening the feminine into beauty-without-intelligence or intelligence-without-beauty; women are allowed a mind or a body but not both." [mijn nadruk] (59)

"A girl learns that stories happen to “beautiful” women, whether they are interesting or not. And, interesting or not, stories do not happen to women who are not “beautiful.”"(61)

"Women’s magazines accompanied women’s advances and the simultaneous evolution of the beauty myth. During the 1860s and 1870s, Girton and Newnham Colleges, Vassar and Radcliffe, and other institutions of higher education for women were founded, and, as historian Peter Gay writes, “women’s emancipation was getting out of control.” Meanwhile, the mass production of beauty images aimed at women was perfected, and The Queen and Harper’s Bazaar were established; the circulation of Beeton’s English Women’s Domestic Magazine doubled to fifty thousand. The rise in women’s magazines was brought about by large investments of capital combined with increased literacy and purchasing power of lower-middle-and working-class women: The democratization of beauty had begun."(62)

"The year after the war ended, the magazines swung again — more exaggeratedly than before — back into domesticity, and three million American and one million British women were fired or quit their jobs."(63-64)

"Women’s magazines for over a century have been one of the most powerful agents for changing women’s roles, and throughout that time — today more than ever — they have consistently glamorized whatever the economy, their advertisers, and, during wartime, the government, needed at that moment from women."(64)

"In the breakdown of the Feminine Mystique and the rebirth of the women’s movement, the magazines and advertisers of that defunct religion were confronted with their own obsolescence. The beauty myth, in its modern form, arose to take the place of the Feminine Mystique, to save magazines and advertisers from the economic fallout of the women’s revolution. The beauty myth simply took over the function of Friedan’s “religion” of domesticity. The terms have changed but the effect is the same."(66)

"Though many women realized that their attention was being focused in this way, fewer fully understood how thoroughly politically such focusing works: In drawing attention to the physical characteristics of women leaders, they can be dismissed as either too pretty or too ugly."(69)

"Why do women care so much what the magazines say and show? They care because, though the magazines are trivialized, they represent something very important: women’s mass culture. A woman’s magazine is not just a magazine. (...)
Women are deeply affected by what their magazines tell them (or what they believe they tell them) because they are all most women have as a window on their own mass sensibility. General culture takes a male point of view on what’s newsworthy, so that the Super Bowl is on the front page while a change in child care legislation is buried in a paragraph on an inside page. It also takes a male point of view about who is worth looking at: Of fifty years of Life magazine covers, though many showed women, only 19 of those were not actresses or models; that is, not there because of their “beauty” (indeed, true to the beauty myth, in the case of Eleanor Roosevelt, almost every interviewer makes a reference to her famous “ugliness”). Newspapers relegate women’s issues to the “women’s page”; TV news programming consigns “women’s stories” to the daytime. In contrast, women’s magazines are the only products of popular culture that (unlike romances) change with women’s reality, are mostly written by women for women about women’s issues, and take women’s concerns seriously. Women react so strongly to their inconsistencies since they probably recognize that the magazines’ contradictions are their own." [mijn nadruk] (70-71)

"Are the magazines trivial, degrading, and antifeminist? The beauty myth is; the editorial content by now, wherever it can escape the myth, decidedly is not. Many women who care about women’s culture are drawn to tap in to this one stream of female mass consciousness, whether as editors, writers, or readers. The magazines’ editorial content changed beyond recognition, for the better, after the rebirth of feminism. (...) What is seldom acknowledged is that they have popularized feminist ideas more widely than any other medium — certainly more widely than explicitly feminist journals. It was through these glossies that issues from the women’s movement swept out from the barricades and down from academic ivory towers to blow into the lives of working-class women, rural women, women without higher education. Seen in this light, they are very potent instruments of social change. The feminist content in these magazines is of a level that could not have been imagined in Cecil Beaton’s Vogue or in the Redbook targeted by Betty Friedan: Articles regularly run on abortion, rape, woman battering, sexual self-expression, and economic independence. Indeed, criticism of the beauty myth is found in them more often than anywhere else."(71-72)

[Nou dan... Waarom dan zo zelf zo hard meedoen met de beauty myth? Waarom hebben die tijdschriften daar niet vanaf het begin tegen gewaarschuwd of actie tegen gevoerd?]

"No wonder that women resent the elements of their format that follow repetitive formulas. No wonder it disturbs them when their magazines seem servile to the degrading economic bottom line of the beauty myth. Women’s magazines would not provoke such strong feelings if they were merely escapist entertainment. But in the absence of mainstream journalism that treats women’s issues with anything like the seriousness they deserve, women’s magazines take on a burden of significance—and responsibility—that would otherwise be spread out over half the “serious” periodicals on the market.
But women’s magazines do not simply mirror our own dilemma of beauty being asked as an apology for new scope and power. They intensify it. Even their editors worry that many readers have not learned how to separate out the prowoman content from the beauty myth in the magazines, whose place is primarily economic.
Unfortunately, the beauty backlash is spread and reinforced by the cycles of self-hatred provoked in women by the advertisements, photo features, and beauty copy in the glossies. These make up the beauty index, which women scan as anxiously as men scan stock reports. It promises to tell women what men truly want, what faces and bodies provoke men’s fickle attentions — a seductive promise in an environment in which men and women rarely get to talk together honestly in a public setting about what each really desires. But the Iron Maiden they offer is no direct template of men’s desires, any more than beefcake photos tell the whole truth about women’s desires. The magazines are not oracles speaking for men. Indeed, as one study found, “our data suggest women are misinformed and exaggerate the magnitude of thinness men desire...they are misinformed, probably as a result of promotion of thinness in women through advertising in the diet industry.” What editors are obliged to appear to say that men want from women is actually what their advertisers want from women."(73)

[Dat is slappe argumentatie. Hoe integer zijn die redacties dan? Dan stel je als tijdschrift toch eisen aan je adverteerders? Als de lezende vrouwen werkelijk een hekel hebben aan dat soort elementen in vrouwenbladen dan kopen ze de bladen juist ook zonder die elementen. Ineens volgen er allemaal verontschuldigingen voor vrouwen die die bladen en de rotzooi er in voor zoete koek slikken. Dan spreek je vrouwen niet op hun kracht aan maar op hun zwakheid.]

"The beauty myth, paradoxically, offers the promise of a solidarity movement, an Internationale. Where else do women get to feel positively or even negatively connected with millions of women worldwide? The images in women’s magazines constitute the only cultural female experience that can begin to gesture at the breadth of solidarity possible among women, a solidarity as wide as half the human race. It is a meager Esperanto, but in the absence of a better language of their own they must make do with one that is man-made and market driven, and which hurts them.
Our magazines simply reflect our own dilemma: Since much of their message is about women’s advancement, much of the beauty myth must accompany it and temper its impact. Because the magazines are so serious, they must also be so frivolous. Because they offer women power, they must also promote masochism. Because feminist poet Marge Piercy attacks the dieting cult in New Woman, therefore the facing page must give a scare sheet about obesity. While the editors take a step forward for themselves and their readers, they must also take a step back into the beauty myth for the sake of their advertisers. Advertisers are the West’s courteous censors. They blur the line between editorial freedom and the demands of the marketplace."(77)

[Zielig, hoor ... Dus vrouwenbladen zitten net als mannenbladen gewoon vast aan een kapitalistisch systeem waarin marketing en adverteerders de dienst uitmaken? Het gaat met andere woorden niet om vrouwen en mannen, maar om een verkeerd economisch systeem dat er op gericht is alles te verkopen, al moet het daar voor liegen en bedriegen.]

"In addition, film, TV, and magazines are under pressure to compete with pornography, which is now the biggest media category. World- wide, pornography generates an estimated 7 billion dollars a year, more, incredibly, than the legitimate film and music industries combined. Pornographic films outnumber other films by three to one, grossing 365 million dollars a year in the United States alone, or a million dollars a day."(79)

[Playboy wordt hier ook als pornografie gezien. Afgezien daarvan: En waarom spelen vrouwen daar dan net zo goed in mee als mannen?]

"In its wake, the beauty myth is exported from West to East, and from rich to poor. United States programming is flooding Europe and First World programs flood the Third World: In Belgium, Holland, and France, 30 percent of TV is American-made, and about 71 percent of TV programs in developing countries are imports from the rich world. In India, TV ownership doubled in five years and advertisers have sponsored shows since 1984. Until a decade ago, most European TV was state-run; but privatization, cable, and satellite changed all that, so that by 1995 there could be 120 channels, all but a few financed by advertising, with revenues expected to rise from $9 billion to $25 billion by the year 2000."(80)

"In the free West, there is a good deal that women’s magazines cannot say. In 1956 the first “arrangement” was made, when a nylon manufacturers’ association booked a $12,000 space in Woman, and the editor agreed not to publish anything in the issue that prominently featured natural fibers. “Such silences,” writes Janice Winship, “conscious or not, were to become commonplace.” Those silences we inherit, and they inhibit our freedom of speech."(81)

"Other censorship is more direct: Women’s magazines transmit “information” about beauty products in a heavily self-censored medium. When you read about skin creams and holy oils, you are not reading free speech. Beauty editors are unable to tell the whole truth about their advertisers’ products."(82)

"This market in turn is buoyed up by another more serious form of censorship. Dalma Heyn, editor of two women’s magazines, confirms that airbrushing age from women’s faces is routine. She observes that women’s magazines “ignore older women or pretend they don’t exist: magazines try to avoid photographs of older women, and when they feature celebrities who are over sixty, ‘retouching artists’ conspire to ‘help’ beautiful women look more beautiful; i.e., less their age.”"(82)

"Women’s culture is an adulterated, inhibited medium. How do the values of the West, which hates censorship and believes in a free exchange of ideas, fit in here?"(83)

[Niet, want die zijn in een kapitalistische economie een illusie, iets wat ze zelf in de voorgaande pagina's toch duidelijk aantoont.]

(86) Religion

"The magazines transmit the beauty myth as the gospel of a new religion. Reading them, women participate in re-creating a belief system as powerful as that of any of the churches whose hold on them has so rapidly loosened.
The Church of Beauty is, like the Iron Maiden, a two-sided symbol. Women have embraced it eagerly from below as a means to fill the spiritual void that grew as their traditional relation to religious authority eroded. The social order imposes it as eagerly, to supplant religious authority as a policing force over women’s lives."(86)

[Ik vind dat Wolf hier toch wel erg gemakkelijk allerlei oorzaak-gevolg-relaties neerzet. Waarom zou secularisatie er toe leiden dat vrouwen naar deze nieuwe religie van schoonheid grijpen? Hadden ze niks beters te doen? Kom zeg. Dat de 'beauty myth' een soort van geloofssysteem geworden is dat net zo dogmatisch kan uitvallen als een religie betekent nog niet dat het zelf een religie genoemd mag worden of religie vervangt. Ik vind het zelfs geen handige term in overdrachtelijke zin - te wollig, leidt alleen maar tot nog meer vaagheid en verwarring.]

"Men too have reverent feelings about this religion of women’s. The caste system based on “beauty” is defended as if it derives from an eternal truth. People assume that who don’t approach the world with this kind of categorical faith in anything else. In this century, most fields of thought have been transformed by the understanding that truths are relative and perceptions subjective. But the rightness and permanence of “beauty’s” caste system is taken for granted by people who study quantum physics, ethnology, civil rights law; who are atheists, who are skeptical of TV news, who don’t believe that the earth was created in seven days. It is believed uncritically, as an article of faith.
The skepticism of the modern age evaporates where the subject is women’s beauty. It is still — indeed, more than ever — described not as if it is determined by mortal beings, shaped by politics, history, and the marketplace, but as if there is a divine authority on high who issues deathless scripture about what it is that makes a woman good to look at." [mijn nadruk] (87)

[Logisch dat mannen er net zo in geloven als vrouwen, mannen zijn immers volgens haar de samenzweerders die de religie in de wereld hebben gezet .. Waarden en normen rondom uiterlijke schoonheid zijn constructies, dat geloof ik direct. Maar dat neemt niet weg dat eer ook zoiets is als natuurlijke schoonheid. Wolf slaat helemaal door.]

[Het is te ver gezocht, dit. Bovendien praat het toch ook weer over vrouwen alsof zij weerloze slachtoffers zijn. De kritiek die Wolf weergeeft hadden alle mogelijke vrouwen toch kunnen hebben? Als de invloed van mannen en zo zo absoluut zou zijn zou Wolf er zelf ook niet toe gekomen zijn dit boek te schrijven. Er is altijd kritiek mogelijk geweest, het is altijd mogelijk geweest te weigeren erbij te horen. Waarom hebben vrouwen geen afstand genomen, waarom hebben ze al die zaken maar laten gebeuren om er achteraf over te lopen klagen, nee sterker nog: om dezelfde dogma's op mannen te gaan toepassen?]

"The antiwoman bias of the Judeo-Christian tradition left fertile ground for the growth of the new religion. Its misogyny meant that women even more than men had to suspend critical thinking if they were to be believers. In rewarding women’s intellectual humility, charging them with sin and sexual guilt, and offering them redemption only through submission to a male mediator, it handed over to the developing religion a legacy of female credulousness."(92)

[Natuurlijk, dat verklaart veel. Maar maak je er dan voorgoed van los, neem zelf de verantwoordelijkheid en houd op met klagen over je onderdrukking. Ook opvallend is de keuze voor de joods-christelijke traditie om alles te verklaren. Hoe zit het dan met die andere miljarden vrouwen in de wereld? Daarnaast is dit hoofdstuk wel heel erg geschreven met de VS op de achtergrond. Mij lijkt dat er genoeg landen zijn waar vrouwen zich heel wat minder druk maken over hun uiterlijk. Maar hopen dat die het kapitalisme buiten de deur kunnen houden of minstens de leugens van de marketingafdelingen kunnen stoppen. Maar werkelijk: wie gelooft al die advertenties, al die reclame? Dan ben je toch niet goed bij je hoofd?]

(131) Sex

[Uiteraard ook weer een verhaal over onderdrukking. Waar, maar kunnen we er een keer over ophouden en ons voortaan gewoon NIET laten onderdrukken? Dank u.]

"Consistently, research figures show that the sexual revolution has left many women stranded, remote from their full ability to feel pleasure. In fact, the beauty myth hit women simultaneously with — and in backlash against — the second wave and its sexual revolution, to effect a widespread suppression of women’s true sexuality. Very nearly released by the spread of contraception, legal abortion, and the demise of the sexual double standard, that sexuality was quickly restrained once again by the new social forces of beauty pornography and beauty sadomasochism, which arose to put the guilt, shame, and pain back into women’s experience of sex."(132)

[Al die voorbeelden die volgen. Dan stel je zo'n bedrijf toch aan de kaak of zorg je toch voor een boycot of een kopersstaking? Of je koopt die bladen toch gewoon niet? Of je streeft naar het bestrijden van dat soort advertenties via regulatie? Al die voorbeelden zijn Amerikaans en in de VS hebben de bedrijven alle vrijheid omdat er geen enkele bescherming van consumenten is en dat alles heeft weer te maken met dat neoliberale kapitalisme dat daar de ideologie is. Mopper daar dan over. De rest is een gevolg van dat soort fundamentele ideologieën.]

"These images above evolved with history: Sexuality follows fashion, which follows politics. During the 1960s era of Flower Power, popular culture had love as the catchword of the hour, with sex its expression; sensuality, frivolity, and playfulness were in vogue. Men grew their hair long and adorned their bodies, highlighting a feminine side that they could explore because women were not yet thinking about their own freedom. Though they appropriated girls’ pleasures, it was still a boys’ party.(...)
The feminine sexual style of the 1960s was abandoned in popular culture, because for women to be sexual in that way — cheerfully, sensually, playfully, without violence or shame, without dread of the consequences — would break down completely institutions that were tottering crazily enough since women had changed merely their public roles.
In the decade during which women became political about womanhood, popular culture recast tender, intimate sex as boring. Anonymity became the aphrodisiac of the moment: Mr. Goodbar and the zipless fuck and one-night stands. If women were going to have sexual freedom and a measure of worldly power, they’d better learn to fuck like men." [mijn nadruk] (133-134)

[Dat zijn wel heel veel oorzaak-gevolg-relaties bij elkaar waar je vraagtekens bij kunt zetten. En opnieuw worden vrouwen neergezet als willoze slachtoffers. Wat dwingt je als vrouw om mee te gaan in koude anonieme seks? De angst er niet bij te horen?]

"Leaving aside the issue of what violent sexual imagery does, it is still apparent that there is an officially enforced double standard for men’s and women’s nakedness in mainstream culture that bolsters power inequities."(139)

"The same sexual evasiveness is true of nearly all dramatic presentation of mainstream culture where a love story is told. So rare is it to see sexual explicitness in the context of love and intimacy on screen that it seems our culture treats tender sexuality as if it were deviant or depraved, while embracing violent or degrading sex as right and healthy." [mijn nadruk] (140)

[Dat is zeker waar in de VS. ]

"If women and men in great numbers were to form bonds that were equal, nonviolent, and sexual, honoring the female principle no less or more than the male, the result would be more radical than the establishment’s worst nightmares of homosexual “conversions.” A mass heterosexual deviation into tenderness and mutual respect would mean real trouble for the status quo since heterosexuals are the most powerful sexual majority. The power structure would face a massive shift of allegiances: From each relationship might emerge a doubled commitment to transform society into one based publicly on what have traditionally been women’s values, demonstrating all too well the appeal for both sexes of a world rescued from male dominance. The good news would get out on the street: Free women have more fun; worse, so do free men. Male-dominated institutions — particularly corporate interests — recognize the dangers posed to them by love’s escape. Women who love themselves are threatening; but men who love real women, more so. (...)
But with the apparition of numbers of men moving into passionate, sexual love of real women, serious money and authority could defect to join forces with the opposition. Such love would be a political upheaval more radical than the Russian Revolution and more destabilizing to the balance of world power than the end of the nuclear age. It would be the downfall of civilization as we know it — that is, of male dominance; and for heterosexual love, the beginning of the beginning." [mijn nadruk] (142-143)

[Interessant, dat eerste deel over tederheid. Maar waarom zou dat traditionele vrouwelijke waarden vertegenwoordigen? Dat is ook zo'n sjabloon. Wat zijn 'echte mannen' of 'echte vrouwen'?]

"Peace and trust between men and women who are lovers would be as bad for the consumer economy and the power structure as peace on earth for the military-industrial complex. Heterosexual love threatens to lead to political change: An erotic life based on nonviolent mutuality rather than domination and pain teaches firsthand its appeal beyond the bedroom. 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. It’s true what they say about women: Women are insatiable. We are greedy. Our appetites do need to be controlled if things are to stay in place. If the world were ours too, if we believed we could get away with it, we would ask for more love, more sex, more money, more commitment to children, more food, more care. These sexual, emotional, and physical demands would begin to extend to social demands: payment for care of the elderly, parental leave, child-care, etc. The force of female desire would be so great that society would truly have to reckon with what women want, in bed and in the world." [mijn nadruk] (145)

"Though intercourse certainly need not be set up as the primary act around which women must adjust their pleasure, it is legitimate to ask why intercourse and masturbation, as just two sources of potential pleasure out of many, should be giving women so little satisfaction now. Western heterosexual women are not getting the pleasure from their own bodies or the bodies of men that they deserve or of which they are capable. Could there be something wrong with the way in which intercourse is culturally taught to men and women, and something wrong with the way women are asked to experience their own bodies? The beauty myth can explain much of that dissatisfaction."(147)

"How did this disastrous definition of sexuality arise? “Beauty” and sexuality are both commonly misunderstood as some transcendent inevitable fact; falsely interlocking the two makes it seem doubly true that a woman must be “beautiful” to be sexual. That of course is not true at all. The definitions of both “beautiful” and “sexual” constantly change to serve the social order, and the connection between the two is a recent invention." [mijn nadruk] (150)

(179) Hunger

Over eetstoornissen anorexia en bullimia.

[Een bijzonder Amerikaans beeld. Nogal overtrokken ook.]

"There are no reliable statistics about death rates from anorexia, but a disease that strikes between 5 and 10 percent of American women, and has one of the highest fatality rates for a mental illness, deserves the kind of media investigation that is devoted to serious and potentially fatal epidemics. This killer epidemic, however, has never made the cover of Time; it is relegated to the “Style” sections. The National Institutes of Health has, to date, no education and prevention program whatsoever. So it appears that the bedrock question — why must Western women go hungry — is one too dangerous to ask even in the face of a death toll such as this.
Joan Jacobs Brumberg in Fasting Girls: The Emergence of Anorexia Nervosa as a Modern Disease puts the number of anorexics at 5 to 10 percent of all American girls and women. On some college campuses, she believes, one woman student in five is anorexic. The number of women with the disease has increased dramatically throughout the Western world starting twenty years ago." [mijn nadruk](182)

"It is spreading to other industrialized nations: The United Kingdom now has 3.5 million anorexics or bulimics (95 percent of them female), with 6,000 new cases yearly. Another study of adolescent British girls alone shows that 1 percent are now anorexic. According to the women’s press, at least 50 percent of British women suffer from disordered eating. Hilde Bruch states that in the last generation, larger patient groups have been reported in publications in Russia, Australia, Sweden, and Italy as well as Great Britain and the United States. Sweden’s rate is now 1 to 2 percent of teenage girls, with the same percentage of women over sixteen being bulimic. The rate for the Netherlands is 1 to 2 percent; of Italian teenagers also, 1 percent suffer from anorexia or bulimia (95 percent of them female), a rise of 400 percent in ten years. That is just the beginning for Western Europe and Japan, since the figures resemble numbers for the United States ten years ago, and since the rate is rising, as it did in America, exponentially. The anorexic patient herself is thinner now than were previous generations of patients. Anorexia followed the familiar beauty myth pattern of movement: It began as a middle-class disease in the United States and has spread eastward as well as down the social ladder." [mijn nadruk] (183)

[Weer eens een andere reden om niet te enthousiast te volgen wat ze in de VS doen.]

"Until seventy-five years ago in the male artistic tradition of the West, women’s natural amplitude was their beauty; representations of the female nude reveled in women’s lush fertility. Various distributions of sexual fat were emphasized according to fashion—big, ripe bellies from the fifteenth to the seventeenth centuries, plump faces and shoulders in the early nineteenth, progressively generous dimpled buttocks and thighs until the twentieth — but never, until women’s emancipation entered law, this absolute negation of the female state that fashion historian Ann Hollander in Seeing Through Clothes characterizes, from the point of view of any age but our own, as “the look of sickness, the look of poverty, and the look of nervous exhaustion.”
Dieting and thinness began to be female preoccupations when Western women received the vote around 1920; between 1918 and 1925, “the rapidity with which the new, linear form replaced the more curvaceous one is startling.” In the regressive 1950s, women’s natural fullness could be briefly enjoyed once more because their minds were occupied in domestic seclusion. But when women came en masse into male spheres, that pleasure had to be overridden by an urgent social expedient that would make women’s bodies into the prisons that their homes no longer were."(184)

[M.a.w.: De emancipatie van de vrouw en hun gelijkwaaridge deelname aan de samenleving naast mannen betekenen ook dat vrouwen zich in het keurslijf gaan dwingen van hoe modellen er uitzien? Rare oorzaak-gevolg-relatie. Emancipatie zou voor mij betekenen dat vrouwen hier ook hun eigen keuzes maken en zelf verantwoordelijkheid voor dragen en zich weinig gelegen laten liggen aan wat anderen vinden. Maar, nee, ze doen alles om er bij te horen, om geaccepteerd te worden door de mannenwereld, zelfs door zichzelf via eetstoornissen kapot te maken. Ik zou dan concluderen dat vrouwen nog steeds niets veranderd zijn en nog steeds moeten emanciperen. Blijkbaar vinden ze zichzelf nog steeds niet belangrijk genoeg.]

"... since female fat is categorically understood by the subconscious as fertile sexuality ... "(184)

[Nou nou, zeg. De uitdrukking 'women’s natural fullness' was daarnet al gevallen en zo vaag als wat. En nu is er ook nog een associatie met vruchtbaarheid?]

"The hunger cult has won a major victory against women’s fight for equality if the evidence of the 1984 Glamour survey of thirty-three thousand women is representative: 75 percent of those aged eighteen to thirty-five believed they were fat, while only 25 percent were medically overweight (the same percentage as men); 45 percent of the underweight women thought they were too fat."(185)

"This great weight-shift bestowed on women, just when we were free to begin to forget them, new versions of low self-esteem, loss of control, and sexual shame. It is a genuinely elegant fulfillment of a collective wish: By simply dropping the official weight one stone below most women’s natural level, and redefining a woman’s womanly shape as by definition “too fat,” a wave of self-hatred swept over First World women, a reactionary psychology was perfected, and a major industry was born. It suavely countered the historical groundswell of female success with a mass conviction of female failure, a failure defined as implicit in womanhood itself."(186)

['Bestowed on' - ze konden er niets aan doen. Zo maak je dus van vrouwen slachttoffers.]

"What, then, is fat? Fat is portrayed in the literature of the myth as expendable female filth; virtually cancerous matter, an inert or treacherous infiltration into the body of nauseating bulk waste. The demonic characterizations of a simple body substance do not arise from its physical properties but from old-fashioned misogyny, for above all fat is female; it is the medium and regulator of female sexual characteristics.
Cross-culturally, from birth, girls have 10–15 percent more fat than boys. At puberty, male fat-to-muscle ratio decreases as the female ratio increases. The increased fat ratio in adolescent girls is the medium for sexual maturation and fertility. The average healthy twenty-year-old female is made of 28.7 percent body fat. By middle age, women cross-culturally are 38 percent body fat: This is, contrary to the rhetoric of the myth, “not unique to the industrialized advanced Western nations. They are norms characteristic of the female of the species.” A moderately active woman’s caloric needs, again in contradiction to a central tenet of the myth, are only 250 calories less than a moderately active man’s (2,250 to 2,500), or two ounces of cheese. Weight gain with age is also normal cross-culturally for both sexes. The body is evidently programmed to weigh a certain amount, which weight the body defends.
Fat is sexual in women; Victorians called it affectionately their “silken layer.” The leanness of the Iron Maiden impairs female sexuality. One fifth of women who exercise to shape their bodies have menstrual irregularities and diminished fertility. The body of the model, remember, is 22 to 23 percent leaner than that of the average woman; the average woman wants to be as lean as the model; infertility and hormone imbalance are common among women whose fat-to-lean ratio falls below 22 percent. Hormonal imbalances promote ovarian and endometrial cancer and osteoporosis. Fat tissues store sex hormones, so low fat reserves are linked with weak estrogens and low levels of all the other important sex hormones, as well as with inactive ovaries. Rose E. Frisch in Scientific American refers to the fatness of Stone Age fertility figures, saying that “this historical linking of fatness and fertility actually makes biological sense” since fat regulates reproduction. Underweight women double their risk of low-birth-weight babies. Fat is not just fertility in women, but desire. Researchers at Michael Reese Hospital in Chicago found that plumper women desired sex more often than thinner women. On scales of erotic excitability and readiness, they outscored thin women by a factor of almost two to one." [mijn nadruk] (191-192)

[Ik weet niet of dat allemaal waar is. Volgt een heel stuk met Wolfs ervaringen.]

"If we look at most young women’s inert relationship to feminism, we can see that with anorexia and bulimia, the beauty myth is winning its offensive. Where are the women activists of the new generation, the fresh blood to infuse energy into second-wave burnout and exhaustion? Why are so many so quiet?"(208)

[Het is allemaal bijzonder Amerikaans en misschien ook wel erg gekleurd door haar eigen ervaringen. Waarom geen kritiek op het competitieve karakter van de VS en de UK en Japan? Dan komen we tenminste bij de echte algemene oorzaken die ook doorwerken naar mannen, zij het op een andere manier. Het is gewoon niet handig om naar een sekse te kijken met verwaarlozing van de andere of met al te simpele oordelen over de andere.]

(218) Violence

Over de kosmetische industrie / chirurgie.

"Sex began to lose its sting in 1965, when in the case of Griswold v. Connecticut the U.S. Supreme Court legalized the sale of contraceptives and the Pill was widely prescribed. It hurt even less from the late 1960s until the late 1980s, when safe abortion was legalized in most Western countries. As women entered the paid work force and lost their dependence on sexual barter for survival, it hurt less still. Changing social mores and the women’s movement’s championing of female sexuality began to make it imaginable that the pleasure their sex gave women might finally and forever outweigh the pain. The strands of sex and pain in women at last began to separate.
In the strange new absence of female pain, the myth put beauty in its place. For as far back as women could remember, something had hurt about being female. As of a generation ago, that became less and less true. But neither women nor the masculine social order could adapt so abruptly to a present in which femaleness was not characterized and defined by pain. Today, what hurts is beauty.
Many women took on this new version of pain exacted by beauty stoically because freedom from sexual pain left a gap in female identity. Women were expected, and expected themselves, to conform to freedom effortlessly, with superhuman resilience. But freedom is not learned easily overnight. One generation is not long enough to forget five millennia of learning how to bear being hurt. If a woman’s sexual sense of self has centered on pain as far back as the record goes, who is she without it? If suffering is beauty and beauty is love, she cannot be sure she will be loved if she does not suffer. It is hard, because of such conditioning, to envisage a female body free of pain and still desirable."(219)

"Women are not cutting their breasts open for individual men, by and large, but so that they can experience their own sexuality. In a diseased environment, they are doing this “for themselves.” Most are married or in stable relationships. Fully a third are mothers whose breasts have, in the surgeon’s words, “atrophied” after pregnancy. Their partners “categorically deny” they encouraged the operations, and protest that they never criticized their lovers’ breasts."(247)

[Waarom dan doen vrouwen dat? Hun man dringt er niet op aan. Bezwijken ze onder andere sociale druk in hun directe omgeving? Praten vrouwen het elkaar niet aan? En ja, de bladen en de advertenties en zo. Maar waarom zou je die volgen? Om er bij te horen? Ik vind het zo'n slap verhaal. En zo typisch Amerikaans.]

"So breast implants, even if they feel bizarre to her lover and cut off sensation in herself, may in fact “free” a woman sexually. They look official. They photograph well. They have become artifact — not-woman — and will never change, the beauty myth’s ultimate goal. Plastic body parts won’t stop here.
Surgeons are not expected to elicit what will make the woman beautiful in her own eyes, but to guarantee her that they will impose on her body the culture’s official fantasy."(248)

[Maar waarom zou je je willen conformeren aan de 'Official Breast' en andere normen voor hoe je er uit hoort te zien?]

(270) Beyond the Beauty Myth

"But for about 160 years, middle-class, educated Western women have been controlled by various ideals about female perfection; this old and successful tactic has worked by taking the best of female culture and attaching to it the most repressive demands of male-dominated societies. These forms of ransom were imposed on the female orgasm in the 1920s, on home and children and the family in the 1950s, on the culture of beauty in the 1980s. With this tactic, we waste time in every generation debating the symptoms more passionately than the disease."(270-271)

"The real issue has nothing to do with whether women wear makeup or don’t, gain weight or lose it, have surgery or shun it, dress up or down, make our clothing and faces and bodies into works of art or ignore adornment altogether. The real problem is our lack of choice. Under the Feminine Mystique, virtually all middle-class women were condemned to a compulsive attitude toward domesticity, whatever their individual inclinations; now that this idea is largely dismantled, those women who are personally inclined scrupulous housekeeping pursue it, and those women who couldn’t be less interested have a (relatively) greater degree of choice. We got sloppy, and the world didn’t end. After we dismantle the beauty myth, a similar situation — so eminently sensible, yet so remote from where we are — will characterize our relationship to beauty culture. The problem with cosmetics exists only when women feel invisible or inadequate without them. The problem with working out exists only if women hate ourselves when we don’t. When a woman is forced to adorn herself to buy a hearing, when she needs her grooming in order to protect her identity, when she goes hungry in order to keep her job, when she must attract a lover so that she can take care of her children, that is exactly what makes “beauty” hurt. Because what hurts women about the beauty myth is not adornment, or expressed sexuality, or time spent grooming, or the desire to attract a lover. Many mammals groom, and every culture uses adornment. “Natural” and “unnatural” are not the terms in question. The actual struggle is between pain and pleasure, freedom and compulsion."(272-273)

"We can dress up for our pleasure, but we must speak up for our rights."(274)

"But let’s not be naive. We are trying to make new meanings for beauty in an environment that doesn’t want us to get away with it. To look however we want to look — and to be heard as we deserve to be heard — we will need no less than a feminist third wave."(274)

"We cannot speak up about the myth until we believe in our guts that there is nothing objective about how the myth works — that when women are called too ugly or too pretty to do something we want to do, this has nothing to do with our appearance. Women can summon the courage to talk about the myth in public by keeping in mind that attacks on or flattery of our appearance in public are never at fault. It is all impersonal; it is political. The reflexive responses that have developed to keep us silent will doubtless increase in intensity: “Easy for you to say.” “You’re too pretty to be a feminist.” “No wonder she’s a feminist; look at her.” “What does she expect, dressed like that?”"(275)

"So here we are. What can we do? We must dismantle the PBQ; support the unionization of women’s jobs; make “beauty” harassment, age discrimination, unsafe working conditions such as enforced surgery, and the double standard for appearance, issues for labor negotiation; women in television and other heavily discriminatory professions must organize for wave after wave of lawsuits; we must insist on equal enforcement of dress codes, take a deep breath, and tell our stories."(276)

"The marketplace is not open to consciousness-raising. It is misplaced energy to attack the market’s images themselves: Given recent history, they were bound to develop as they did. While we cannot directly affect the images, we can drain them of their power. We can turn away from them, look directly at one another, and find alternative images of beauty in a female subculture; seek out the plays, music, films that illuminate women in three dimensions; find the biographies of women, the women’s history, the heroines that in each generation are submerged from view; fill in the terrible, “beautiful” blanks. We can lift ourselves and other women out of the myth — but only if we are willing to seek out and support and really look at the alternatives."(277)

"The beauty cult attests to a spiritual hunger for female ritual and rites of passage. We need to develop and elaborate better women’s rituals to fill in the void. Can we evolve more widely among friends, among networks of friends, fruitful new rites and celebrations for the female life cycle? We have baby showers and bridal showers, but what about purification, confirmation, healing, and renewal ceremonies for child-birth, first menstruation, loss of virginity, graduation, first job, marriage, recovery from heartbreak or divorce, the earning of a degree, menopause? Whatever organic form they take, we need new and positive, rather than negative, celebrations to mark the female lifespan."(279)

"We need, especially for the anorexic/pornographic generations, a radical rapprochement with nakedness. Many women have described the sweeping revelation that follows even one experience of communal all-female nakedness. This is an easy suggestion to mock, but the fastest way to demystify the naked Iron Maiden is to promote retreats, festivals, excursions, that include — whether in swimming or sunning or Turkish baths or random relaxation — communal nakedness. Men’s groups, from fraternities to athletic clubs, understand the value, the cohesiveness, and the esteem for one’s own gender generated by such moments. A single revelation of the beauty of our infinite variousness is worth more than words; one such experience is strong enough, for a young girl, especially, to give the lie to the Iron Maiden."(280)

"We need not condemn lust, seduction, or physical attraction — a much more democratic and subjective quality than the market would like us to discover — we need only to reject political manipulation." [mijn nadruk] (280)

[Dat lijkt me het belangrijkste, samen met de economische manipulatie dan wel. ]

"The 1980s tried to buy us off with promises of individual solutions. We have reached the limit of what the individualist, beauty-myth version of female progress can do, and it is not good enough: We will be 2 percent of top management and 5 percent of full professors and 5 percent of senior partners forever if we do not get together for the next great push forward. Higher cheekbones and firmer bustlines clearly won’t get us what we need for real confidence and visibility; only a renewed commitment to the basics of female political progress — to child-care programs, effective antidiscrimination laws, parental leave, reproductive choice, fair compensation, and genuine penalties against sexual violence — will do so. We won’t have these until we can identify our interests in other women’s, and allow our natural solidarity to overcome the organizational obstacles put forward by the competitiveness and rivalry artificially provoked among us by the beauty backlash."(282)

"Rivalry, resentment, and hostility provoked by the beauty myth run deep. Sisters commonly remember the grief of one being designated “the pretty one.” Mothers often have difficulty with their daughters’ blooming. Jealousy among the best of friends is a cruel fact of female love. Even women who are lovers describe beauty competition. It is painful for women to talk about beauty because under the myth, one woman’s body is used to hurt another." [mijn nadruk] (284)

[Ook zonder 'beauty myth' zullen er altijd anderen zijn die mooier zijn dan jij. Uiterlijke schoonheid is niet alleen maar iets van 'designation' en sociale constructie, het is naïef om dat te denken.]

"Women blame men for looking but not listening. But we do it too; perhaps even more so. We have to stop reading each others’ appearances as if appearance were language, political allegiance, worthiness, or aggression. The chances are excellent that what a woman means to say to other women is far more complex and sympathetic than the garbled message that her appearance permits her.
Let us start with a reinterpretation of “beauty” that is noncompetitive, nonhierarchical, and nonviolent. Why must one woman’s pleasure and pride have to mean another woman’s pain? Men are only in sexual competition when they are competing sexually, but the myth puts women in “sexual” competition in every situation." [mijn nadruk] (286)

"Though women can give this new perspective to one another, men’s participation in overturning the myth is welcome. Some men, certainly, have used the beauty myth abusively against women, the way some men use their fists; but there is a strong consciousness among both sexes that the real agents enforcing the myth today are not men as individual lovers or husbands, but institutions, that depend on male dominance. Both sexes seem to be finding that the full force of the myth derives little from private sexual relations, and much from the cultural and economic megalith “out there” in the public realm. Increasingly, both sexes know they are being cheated. But helping women to take the myth apart is in men’s own interest on an even deeper level: Their turn is next."(288)

"So let’s stop blaming ourselves and stop running and stop apologizing, and let’s start to please ourselves once and for all. (...) You do not win by struggling to the top of a caste system, you win by refusing to be trapped within one at all. The woman wins who calls herself beautiful and challenges the world to change to truly see her."(290)