Friday Feminist – Naomi Wolf

Cross posted on The Hand Mirror

A woman wins by giving herself and other women permission – to eat; to be sexual; to age; to wear overalls, a paste tiara, a Balenciaga gown, a second-hand opera cloak or combat boots; to cover up or to go practically naked; to do whatever we choose in following – or ignoring – our own aesthetic. A woman wins when she feels that what each woman does with her own body – unenforced, uncoerced – is her own business. …

Can there be a pro-woman definition of beauty? Absolutely. What has been missing is play. The beauty myth is harmful and pompous and grave because so much, too much, depends upon it. The pleasure of playfulness is that it doesn’t matter. Once you play for stakes of any amount, the game becomes a war game, or compulsive gambling. In the myth, it has been a game for life, for questionable love, for desperate and dishonest sexuality, and without the choice not to play by alien rules. No choice, no free will; no levity, no real game.

But we can imagine, to save ourselves, a life in the body that is not value-laden; a masquerade, a voluntary theatricality that emerges from abundant self-love. A pro-woman redefinition of beauty reflects our redefinitions of what power is. Who says we need a bierarchy? Where I see beauty may not be where you do. Some people look more desirable to me than they do to you. So what? My perception has no authority over yours. Why should beauty be exclusive? Admiration can include so much. Why is rareness impressive? The high value of rareness is a masculine concept, having more to do with capitalism than with lust. What is the fun in wanting the most what cannot be found? Children, in contrast, are common as dirt, but they are highly valued and regarded as beautiful.

Naomi Wolf, The Beauty Myth, 1990


One response to “Friday Feminist – Naomi Wolf

  1. I was thinking of reading The Beauty Myth again before my post on appearances, and now I’m certain to! I always feel inspired, challenged, or otherwise thought provoked by your Friday selections. Thanks!