Friday, May 2, 2008

Naomi Wolf Uses the Elliptical

At the gym this morning, I happened to look over and see a familiar face on the elliptical. One of my adolescent
sheroes, Naomi Wolf, was working out with me. Granted I didn't say anything just smiled and kept glancing over, perhaps a little too often. Fortunately for Wolf, Montel Williams kept me captivated. I read Wolf's The Beauty Myth in junior high school followed by Fire With Fire. Not because I was so advanced but because there was really nothing better to do.

In The Beauty Myth, published in 1991, Wolf makes a claim that although women have made extensive advancements within all aspects of society, there is still something that holds us captive - standards of beauty. She argues that normative beauty standards are not constructed by women but are socially constructed. Those who cannot live up to these standards are socially, physically and psychologically punished by our culture. She writes in her introduction:

"The more legal and material hindrances women have broken through, the more strictly and heavily and cruelly images of female beauty have come to weigh upon us...During the past decade, women breached the power structure; meanwhile, eating disorders rose exponentially and cosmetic surgery became the fastest-growing specialty...pornography became the main media category, ahead of legitimate films and records combined, and thirty-three thousand American women told researchers that they would rather lose ten to fifteen pounds than achieve any other goal...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."

It's a great read regardless of whether or not you find her arguments palatable.

Naomi Wolf's writings appear in various publications, one of which is the Huffington Post.

Check her out on the Ali G Show: