By Justin Dawes
The final Diversity Lecture of this year’s series left the large audience with a message of women’s self respect. Naomi Wolf, journalist, social activist, and author of “The Beauty Myth,” graced the stage of the Fountain Street Church with her confident presence.
Wolf made it seem as if the audience was being conversed with rather than lectured to. This comfortable demeanor was a breath of fresh air for audience members watching a public speaker.
Wolf discussed ideas from her internationally bestselling book, “The Beauty Myth.” This book “challenged the cosmetics industry and the marketing of unrealistic standards of beauty, launching a new wave of feminism in the early 1990s,” according to Wolf’s website.
Wolf stressed that women don’t need to follow the media’s ideas of beauty “more than they need their self respect.”
She began by giving the audience a history of how the current ideologies of women came about, referencing Barbie and Twiggy.
She explained that women are told from an early age that society’s view of the ideal woman is “tall, thin, white, and blonde, a face without pores, asymmetry, or flaws,” and if you don’t look like that, there is something wrong with you.
And these ideas are engrained into women’s minds, effecting their self-esteem and self-worth. Someone who lives on this idea will never be happy; it’s impossible to reach perfect beauty because no one is perfect.
And then “they (women) look at themselves in the mirror, and they think, ‘What’s wrong with me?’”
With the encouragement of magazines and the media, women will do something about what they see in the mirror. Breast implants were an example, but Wolf said women were not informed of the side effects of the procedure.
“30 to 70 percent of breast implants harden to the texture of golf balls and need to be operated on,” Wolf said.
These degrading thoughts are also what lead to eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia, Wolf explained, sharing her own experience of the psychological effects anorexia can have.
Naomi Wolf’s passion on sharing the message that women can look however they want is what led her to write her book and travel to speak about it. And in her efforts, her message has touched lives.
“This book helped me get over my eating disorder,” Wolf recalls someone saying.
Wolf was the last speaker for this year’s Diversity Lecture Series. The series will kickoff again next school year.