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The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty are Used Against Women - Naomi Wolf This is one of those books that you intellectually know but need reminders from time to time that a lot of our beauty ideals are mass marketed from advertisers. At least I do.
It's so easy to forget when it is so engrained in our culture that stick skinny is beautiful, perfect flawless skin [not going to happen for me no matter what.] and shiny hair, etc.
Wolf's theory is that a lot of this started when women entered the workforce. The power base needed a new way to keep women down.
I think she's not wrong but it's not the only reason the diet industry [totally the blame for the obesity epidemic] and cosmetic industry are so big. It's a huge factor for a lot of people. There's got to be a reason why so many guys aren't held to this level of perfection and feel entitled to a hot girl. Our movies, advertisement, culture do hold up what society feels but also is a huge pointer in how society are told to feel. Naomi Wolf makes that point about that in the place women's magazines have held in the cultural psyche.

We place unfair and unrealistic burdens on ourselves for an unobtainable goal. Yes deep down we know that companies come up with new problems and solutions to sell stuff. It doesn't stop from me spending loads of money on moisturizers though.
Personally, I heard more negative stereotypes from my mother that men were visual than in the movies. Movies and books would sometimes at least let the "plain" Jane get the career and guy. Alright, books sometimes let the plain girl get the happy ending.

I think some of the negative reviews I read on Amazon gleamed from the fact they thought Wolf was placing all the blame on men.
Wolf divided the beauty standards into categories and the first one happened to be the work place where women's appearances have been used against them. Men do get away with sexual harassment if their target is beautiful [she was asking for it] and if she's "ugly" [it's not harassment if they are making fun of you apparently.]
It's a fact that men do make more than women without a degree in many fields. It was probably especially so when this book was published.
She also gives us background information in how ad copiers have power to censor the magazines by pulling adverts if they run something that opposes the product they sell. Advertisers can be quite powerful. No one calls sexism when they pull from regular shows so I don't think Wolf is wrong here.

I don't think it's man hating to say that a lot of feminism has died down because people think you have to hate men to be a feminist. Or that you have to be ugly to be feminist. I'm not ashamed to say I believe in equal rights for everyone. I'm not a beauty queen so I suppose that means nothing coming from me. [I only placed second in a first grade beauty pageant]

Sexism is just one example out of many that those in power will use to keep the work labour cheaper.

This book is out dated since botox hadn't reared it's ugly head yet. Women are being encouraged to get preemptive botox in their '20s and not to smile less they develop lines. That's hardly the fault of Wolf that she didn't predict that.

In a nutshell it probably isn't telling us anything we don't know but what we keep forgetting since the beauty myth is so ingrained in our culture.
Wolf hits it on target that the problem with the beauty myth is that it comes from outside approval so it can always be taken away.