the fucked up truth about loveliness

Bernini-Blessed-Ludovica“But what about nonviolent beauty pornography? The harm is apparent in the way such imagery represses female sexuality and lowers women’s sexual self- esteem by casting sex as locked in a chastity belt to which “beauty” is the only key. Since the myth began to use female sexuality to do its political work, by pairing it with “beauty” images in a siege of repetition, it has a stronger grip on women than ever before. With sex held hostage by “beauty,” the myth is no longer just skin deep, but goes to the core. ”

“The myth wants to discourage women from seeing themselves un- equivocally as sexually beautiful. The damage beauty pornography does to women is less immediately obvious than the harm usually at- tributed to pornography: A woman who knows why she hates to see another woman hanging from a meat hook, and can state her objections, is baffled if she tries to articulate her discomfort with “soft” beauty pornography. ”

“For the woman who cannot locate in her worldview a reasonable objection to images of naked, “beautiful” women to whom nothing bad is visibly being done, what is it that can explain the damage she feels within? Her silence itself comes from the myth: If women feel ugly, it is our fault, and we have no inalienable right to feel sexually beautiful. A woman must not admit it if she objects to beauty pornography because it strikes to the root of her sexuality by making her feel sexually un- lovely. Male or female, we all need to feel beautiful to be open to sexual communication: “beautiful” in the sense of welcome, desired, and treasured. Deprived of that, one objectifies oneself or the other for self- protection. ”

“My hips. It’s my thighs. I hate my stomach. This is not aesthetic distaste, but deep sexual shame. The parts of the body vary. But what each woman who describes it shares is the conviction that that is what the pornography of beauty most fetishizes. Breasts, thighs, buttocks, bellies; the most sexually central parts of women, whose “ugliness” therefore becomes an obsession.”

from The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf