When you are looking for answers to the dilemma of how to deal with your own perception of beauty and how it affects the way you see people, it is difficult to find anything in print that discusses how to actually change that perception in the individual.
The idea of beauty has been around since at least the time that man was able to carve stone axes. There are landscapes that are considered beautiful in any culture, and every culture has some sort of idea of the ultimate feminine beauty.
The problem is that when this idea becomes an ideal that women are supposed to strive for, it consumes them to the exclusion of being able to move in any great way forward according to Naomi Wolf author of The Beauty Myth.
The Beauty Myth was written in 1991 – 22 years later, the book is in rare form. As a male who is also trapped and hurt by the beauty myth, this book was a tough read because the descriptions of the condition that women are faced with are graphic, and those descriptions touch on cultural mores that I am both complicit in and hurt by.
Until consumers, men and women, realize that what hurts any member of a population hurts the entire population, we will continue to suffer from our own inability to see the humanness in other people. It is this humanness that allows us to have empathy and is supposed to prevent things like the Holocaust.
The great lie of any book that separates one group of people from another on the basis of discrimination is that discrimination is only the problem of and only hurts the people represented in the book – in this case, women. However, discrimination against women hurts the children that they rear; it hurts men in that way.
It also hurts men in the unreal expectations placed on men in regards to women on either side of the issue. When a woman who claims to be a feminist attacks a man for holding open a door, it hurts them both, especially when the man would have held the door for another man as a matter of politeness.
In the end, as I search for answers to my own inadequacies of seeing the beauty in every woman, I can only hope that I will stumble upon a book that was meant to help both men and women come together to form the equal partnership that they should have.
The Beauty Myth may or may not be dated. I think it did predict what is happening to men and advertising even if it wasn’t happening in the ‘90s though I am not sure of it was happening in the ‘90s. I am also not sure that any movement has been made on the front of women’s rights and by extension, human rights.
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