The 'female gaze' is upon us

In her book ‘The beauty myth’, Naomi Wolf defines this myth as a violent backlash against feminism, that uses images of female beauty as a political weapon against women's advancement.

The thing with very opinionated books is that you have no one to argue with, especially when concepts are strategically connected to convey a specific idea. Now, you understand why I just have to close the book every other page, take a deep breath, and calm down.

female gaze and beauty myth

According to Naomi Wolf, and I quote, recent research consistently shows that inside the majority of the West's controlled, attractive, successful working women, there is a secret 'underlife' poisoning our freedom; infused with notions of beauty, it is a dark vein of self-hatred, physical obsessions, terror of ageing, and dread of lost control.

I knew the content of this book, I've studied it thoroughly, yet some concepts are really hard to swallow, especially while sharing personal space with strangers on the bus hoping to catch at least a glimpse of sunlight before and after work.

What mindset am I supposed to adopt while waltzing through life knowing that 'competition between women has been made part of the the myth so that women will be divided from one another’? I was aware that girls were supposedly the worst self-critics and that it's another girl's gaze we fear, not clueless boys. Still, is saying this out loud meant to unite women?

It's like pointing at a shadow on the ground and shouting: Watch out for the abyss!

Then, Naomi Wolf makes a good point about 'the gaze'. Before the development of technologies of mass production, the average woman was exposed to few idealised physical beauties. The value of women, who were not aristocrats or prostitutes, laid in their work skills and fertility. Moving pictures and fashion brought society a new concept of beauty that was so attainable, yet so far, that women tried to imitate their new heroines. Hence the competition in front of a 'tangible' standard.

Then photoshop happened.

But another thing happened, too. The 'female gaze'.

With the advent of selfie technology, it's the girl that chooses when, how, why, for whom, to be photographed. Personally, I find it a very empowering thought, especially to counteract the heavy face-palming I experience after scrolling through an endless list of celebrity selfies, and mortal selfies.

I wonder if Naomi would agree with me in saying that this 'female gaze' finally takes back what 'the evil man' stole from us. For reference, Kim Kardashian-West took a naked selfie at her bedroom mirror and decided to post it to her social media. She watched herself and is now watching you, watching her, through her own eyes. The 'male gaze' is rendered powerless, stripped of its potential danger, perversion, and possession.

Post inspired by 'The beauty myth', written by Naomi Wolf
Image: via

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