The most potent political sedative in women’s history
September 6, 2014 12:01 PM Subscribe
We can’t close gender gaps when we spend endless hours counting calories instead of cracking glass ceilings. We can’t gain self-assurance when body dysmorphia is so abundant.11 years on, Vanessa Garcia tells her 24-year-old eating-disordered self “Your time is precious. Get help. Do it now. You have too many important things to do.”
On the other hand, Marisa Meltzer asks whether dieting is truly antithetical to feminism. She reflects on Naomi Wolf's 1991 assertion in The Beauty Myth: "A cultural fixation on female thinness is not an obsession about female beauty, but an obsession about female obedience. Dieting is the most potent political sedative in women’s history; a quietly mad population is a tractable one." Unhappy with her weight and struggling with the personal versus the political as it relates to body image and diet, Meltzer decides to consult the elders.
I decided to go to the source and call Naomi Wolf. .... [S]he’s still critical of the kind of nitpicky thinking that dieting encourages. “Women are always tasked with surveilling, evaluating, judging. There is something about the culture asking us to be in that part of our brains all the time that dials down passion and intuition,” she says. I brace myself for what comes next—is she going to chastise me, tell me I’m betraying the cause? But Wolf is surprisingly laissez-faire on the subject of individual choice. “Feminism often gets into an unappealing cul-de-sac where there’s this set of practices or beliefs that you have to be part of to be a good feminist. Interestingly, that’s not very different from more conventional forms of social policing. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with taking care of your body. I just want to know you’re feeling beautiful and important at whatever weight you want.”Bonus link: 20 years on, Naomi Wolf reflects back on The Beauty Myth from the vantage point of middle age.
This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments