my experience with “The Beauty Myth”
due to a discussion I was in this past few days, I was reminded of this book.
Have you ever felt that you didn’t measure up to the social standards women are “supposed ” to be?
Have you ever felt that you weren’t included in the media portrayal of what women’s bodies and/or sexuality included?
Then you have been slapped down by the beauty myth.
I thought it was just me, till I went to univ and read this book for my sociology intro class. I thought it was either me having a self esteem crisis, or people were right and I truly wasn’t that feminine, beautiful, sexy.
You see I am fairly tall for a woman. As a teen I started getting curves where they should be and people in my culture/ faith of rearing kept telling me that to be a woman of faith, I had to be modest and cover up.
I had a brother who was 1 year older than me who could shovel food in like he was eating from a pig’s trough, but I had to step away from the table, still hungry. I was far from fat. Actually I was pretty lithe, except for having boobs. In fact, I thought I needed bigger boobs and butt. I actually won ribbons in track at school. So yeah, they should have let me graze. At 16, I was lifting more weight than any of my other sisters and probably could have out-lifted my brothers and dad. But that wasn’t good enough.
At work, at 16, I was told that i was to wear a uniform, no makeup and have my hair at the shoulders or in an up-do. Even jewelry wasn’t that welcome. You could wear your wedding band and studs in your ears.
My sisters and I were always competing over who lost weight that week, who was best at makeup, fashion, sewing, cooking, … girl craft. I was told that men were the be all and end all. Biblically ordained by God to rule everything about us womenfolk.
And it was hurtful and it was ridiculous.
Then i was shoved into the world in a big way when I left home. I went from small hamlet to big city. I had never seen a hooker before and had no clue. i mean really no clue what they were doing. No I wasn’t a virgin, but I was innocent./sheltered about prostitution.
That was me. I was/am a single mom. I have a daughter. And I did everything I could to avoid using superficial terms about her. When she got praise from me, it was for effort, interest, and talents. When she got discouraged, it was for bad behaviour.
I raised her in a fairly neutral home. For which I took a LOT of shit from my family. They kept giving her dolls and tea sets, which annoyed me all to hell! But they refused to stop. As long as they had access to her.
The point of this is that looks and attractiveness go beyond what you put out there to the world. It also goes beyond what you feel about yourself.
As women have become more independent in their lives and sexuality, the media has responded by making beauty more sexualized, being thin as the ideal, and a standard of femininity that is rare to achieve.
According to Dr Wolf, we have met the Iron Maiden.
She affects who we are, how we are treated, how we think of ourselves, how we relate to men and how they relate to us.
If all we are are sluts whose sole purpose is to look good, then they can treat us any way they wish. They can rape us, because we are sexual beings. They can beat us, because we are their property. And they can kill us, because we have no intrinsic value.
And deny her thesis or not, if you look at the news every single day, I can prove she is right. It’s still true almost 30 years after the book came out. Can you prove she isn’t?
The Iron Maiden is killing women, whether from partners or eating disorders, gender dysmorphia or even suicides.
My daughter and I have had to live thru it. And I want it to change before I have a granddaughter to be affected by it. Is that asking too much?