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I’m currently re-reading Naomi Wolf’s “The Beauty Myth” for the umpteenth time. Here’s an interesting passage that I found, which contains some pretty astonishing statistics – and carries an interesting theory as to why dieting has become so prevalent in the past 50 years.

From the chapter “Culture”:

Women’s magazines for over a century have been one of the most powerful agents for changing women’s roles, and throughout that time – today more than ever – they have consistently glamorized whatever the economy, their advertisers, and during the wartime, the government, needed at that moment from women. […] When [in the late 1960s] the restless, isolated, bored, and insecure housewife fled the Feminine Mystique for the workplace, advertisers faced the loss of their primary consumer. […] The beauty myth, in its modern form, arose to take the place of the Feminine Mystique, to save magazines and advertisers from the economic fallout of the woman’s revolution. In a stunning move, an entire replacement culture was developed by naming a ‘problem’ where it had scarcely existed before, centering it on women’s natural state, and elevating it to the existential female dilemma. The number of diet-related articles rose 70% from 1968 to 1972. Articles on dieting in the popular press soared from 60 in the year 1979 to 66 in the month of January 1980 alone. By 1983-1984, the Reader’s Guide to Periodical Literature listed 103 articles; by 1984, 300 diet books were on the shelves. The lucrative “transfer of guilt” was resurrected just in time.

What are your thoughts?


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