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Has Feminism Failed to Free us of the Beauty Myth?


In a survey released last week by, 19 out of 20 British women say they would prefer a smaller waist than a genius-level IQ.  The wish list of the average British women (in order) was a slimmer figure, bigger bank balance followed by dinner with an A-list star of her choice, with increased intelligence being way down the list.  This all raises the question, has feminism freed us from anxiety over appearance, as it was once supposed it would? 

 As we sit watching UK Celebrity Big Brother, in which most of the women chosen has very low IQ's, but were all busty, and knew how to flirt their way to the top, have we decided to give up on brains and return to the beauty game?  These were all issues raised by Rowan Pelling in The Independent, who was brought up in the midst of feminism, reading The Female Eunch, Fear of Flying, Fat is a Feminist Issue and Fay Weldon novels, and goes so far as to say she despises her own sex for being so superficial.  It is a point of concern for New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd also, who writes about the rise of the cosmetics industry in her new book 'Are Men Necessary?' ''There was a time, long ago and far away. when women didn't only talk about skin. They talked about books, plays and politics.'' She comes to the conclusion that ''Feminism has been defeated by narcissism.'' 

ref: The Independent on Sunday, Rowan Pelling, 'Beauty or intelligence? It's a no brainer'

Reader Comments (5)

Last December I had a big cancer scare. After my first biopsy, I was told by the radiologist that "it didn't look good". I left the hospital in a blurr. After about 1 hour max of shock I began to look 'on the bright side of things'.
Hmmm...I pondered. "Chemo and radiation ought to be good for about 30 pounds. Oh but's taken me over a YEAR of hard work to get my hair to this length...damn!! Oh well...I'll take bald and thinner anyday. Besides, there's some GREAT Wigs out there."
These were amongst my first thoughts. Down the list were things like how much kinder people would be, and all the homey casseroles that would arrive at my door.
Well - weeks later after another bigger surgical biopsy I recieved the wonderful news that I was cancer free. Amidst the relief I grieved my lost chance of 'easy' weight loss and increased attention.
Has feminism freed me from anxiety over appearance?
Well - I sit here with one very oddly shaped boob with a long puckered scar on it and have a good laugh over the utter absurdity of it all.


March 30, 2006 | Unregistered Commentertricia
"In a survey released last week by, 19 out of 20 British women say they would prefer a smaller waist than a genius-level IQ."

Is that for real?????

@ the person who posted previously, Best Wishes.
December 17, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterRanvir Singh Bassi
Feminism destroyed the western world, you can't do that by accident. That was the aim of feminism, not to "free" women from nothing.
April 27, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMr.Lomax
Feminism was packaged by men and sold to make more money and benefit them.
September 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLeonie
Unfortunately, feminism's intelligence has been waylaid by discordant voices that have made feminist a dirty word. In fact, if you mention to many men that you are a feminist, you make yourself practically not date or marriage material. Feminist logic is failing only because women are very human and most of us want one thing: to be loved. The media and the masculine paradigm tell us how to package ourselves to receive affection, and we gladly mutilate, starve, self-loathe, push ourselves beyond boundaries of human dignity just so we can hear "you are beautiful and I love you."

As women, we must accept that -- brainwashed or not -- many men do not see us as human beings or as equals. Let a man's actions speak volumes to you, and think of how many times you have been disappointed with poor treatment. If you are a self-respecting woman, you will realize that you do not deserve to be treated this way, even if poor treatment is very widespread. Think of your sisters in third world countries who are burned alive with their dead husbands, young girls being genitally mutilated, women in the Congo being gang-raped daily... this is not "a world away." This is our world. This is our Earth, and this is the state that women find ourselves in. Relegated to subhuman, for a purely functional use, in many, many places all over the world.

Not all men treat women in this fashion. But the crimes and the abuse are so massive, where do we start? I believe we have to start with the children. I believe that we must teach our sons self-love, self-respect, and respect for others. We, as women, have a duty to our children to turn off the sexist hate-filled media... which also scars young boys' minds about their own bodies and selves... and to raise these children right. If we make a stand and say, "I will not allow you to touch my body until you treat me with respect and dignity" to our potential partners, it would drastically change the dynamic in our society currently. As women, we must also learn to create safe spaces for ourselves in which we do not undermine other women's goals and dreams, but support one another. This is especially necessary for women of size, who receive so much discrimination on a daily basis, reaching inhumane levels. Fat women are facing eliminationist bigotry: "Why do you exist?" and scapegoat bias "Your fat is the cause of a lot of the world's problems" on top of all the other crap rhetoric aimed at women, as weapons of the mind, every single hour of every single day.

And we teach these values to our children. No wonder so many are committing suicide at the hands of cruel bullies. Who taught them how to hurt themselves? Who taught the bullies to be so horribly cruel? Who taught the school staff to just look the other way while the victims sink into dangerous cycles of self-hatred and destruction? It's a mirror for our entire society. It needs to fucking stop, right here, right now. The only ones to change it are you and me and anyone else who gives enough of a damn to get off our asses in front of the TV or Facebook and make it happen. We can be keyboard warriors all day long... but these are just words on a page. What can you do today, IRL, to support women? Supporting half of the world's population is a huge step towards making the world right.
February 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAn amazing woman

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