Originally published in 1991 and updated in 2002, Naomi Wolf’s provocative first book, The Beauty Myth, explores how the progress of the women’s movement has been hindered by one unshakable aspect of life: beauty, used by others to subdue feminist advancements in areas such as career, culture, sex and religion. Wolf maintains, “There is no legitimate historical or biological justification for the beauty myth; what it is doing to women today is a result of nothing more exalted than the need of today’s power structure, economy and culture to mount a counteroffensive against women,” a claim that has been equally lauded and criticized. While Wolf tips her hat to the first and second waves of feminists who came before her — especially author Betty Friedan, whose book The Feminine Mystique she quotes frequently — her book seethes with the impassioned tone of someone who recognizes that, when it comes to women’s rights, the female desire for beauty can become less an asset and more a barrier to the goal of equality.
Autobiography / Memoir
Self-Help / Instructional