Study Questions for Naomi Wolf’s The Beauty Myth

Why do you think Naomi Wolf prefers to start her discussion by referring to the positive effects of the feminist movement in the wake of 1970s?

How does Wolf’s comparison between older and younger women in the 3rd paragraph help you understand her argument?

What does Wolf mean by the expression “secret underlife”?

Why does Wolf call the beauty myth a political weapon? Identify examples of how this weapon works on different levels in the lives of Western women.

Discuss what the following quotation reveals about men and women and the relationship between them. “Women must want to embody it [beauty] and men must want to possess women who embody it”.

Identify and comment on the examples through which the writer refutes the idea that beauty is timeless, changeless, biological, sexual and evolutionary.

Why does the writer say that “the beauty myth is not about women at all”?

What is the impact of the Industrial Revolution on the concept of physical ideal?

What does Wolf mean by “social fictions”? Find examples of social fictions in Wolf’s argument and comment on what these may lead to.

What is the significance of the “Iron Maiden” as a metaphor in Wolf’s argument?

What is Wolf’s expectation of women as far as “The Beauty Myth” is concerned? Do you think it is realistic/attainable? Why? Why not?

© Ali Nihat Eken, Istanbul, May 2010


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