sometimes you just know when you have finished a certain book your life has changed completely & forever with no going back
this is one such time
the only thing i have to ask myself is why didn’t i read this when it was first published in 1991 (or sometime soon afterwards, when it was still fresh on the shelves of local bookshops) when i was in London studying fashion, when all i was confronted with day after day was page after page of glossy magazines, of thin glamorous women, of close up beauty shots, of ‘beautiful’ woman as muse, of soft porn fashion editorials? why did i not read this book just before my dress size became of extreme importance to me, before i started dieting to look the ‘perfect’ size, before i plotted to become a carbon copy straight from the pages of those magazines?
i’m not sure why.
but its okay. one month before my 49th birthday & i have read it. i have finally read the book that i should have read all that time ago. the book that has caused everything else to slip into place around it. now everything, everything makes sense; all that heartache, that longing, that uncertainty, that sadness, that paralysis, that giving-away-of-power.
now i know how truly powerful i am & as i have finally come into this power; i will not stop. why stop?
this is a society that keeps young women confused. this is a society that devalues women in the prime of their lives, this is a society that separates mothers from their daughters & leaves them out on the streets to try & make their own way in the world. this is a society that does not protect young women. this is a society where ‘uniqueness’ in a woman is derided & stereotype is applauded.
for the first time in my life, at the age of 48; after raising two girls of my own & surviving a tumultuous relationship with my mother, i think i can say i have finally found my place in the world & it is because of this book, this one book, which has solidified once & for all the very faint sensations i have been having (with increasing frequency) all these years but was not ever able to identify, least put a name to.
i wonder why not?
all the times i was in college & turned away from those glossy images, every day i refused to wear make up or a bra or high heels or nail polish. all those times i was in a factory in china, watching the women work at their stations, sewing garments, dyeing fabric, that time i chose to quit my job because of the pain i felt for them. all those times i slept with my two daughters in our bed, suckled them right there throughout the night, carried them close to me, all those days we spent together out in the forest or down by the river as i homeschooled them.
this book has given me a word for all of those times ….
& moving forward, as my girls go out into the world, as i sit back & wonder what i am now to do with the time i have left, as i look through the list of feminist manifestos, books & novels i have yet to read (& obviously have been sorely missing), as i know that most of my own books have yet to be written
& there is one thing i know now without a shadow of doubt; i have never felt so
in my entire life.
thank you Naomi Wolf for writing ‘The Beauty Myth’