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Episode 45 of 63

The Beauty Myth, by Naomi Wolf

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station description An Essential Texts Book Club
Breaking Down Patriarchy
Duration: 01:45:13
Amy: Welcome to Breaking Down Patriarchy! I’m Amy McPhie Allebest. I remember one time several years ago, my husband and I were getting ready to go out somewhere fancy. I took a shower, shaved my legs and underarms, dried off, moisturized with one lotion for my body and one lotion for my face, blow-
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Amy: Welcome to Breaking Down Patriarchy! I’m Amy McPhie Allebest. I remember one time several years ago, my husband and I were getting ready to go out somewhere fancy. I took a shower, shaved my legs and underarms, dried off, moisturized with one lotion for my body and one lotion for my face, blow-dried my recently-color-treated hair to make it straight (it naturally dries in small curls), then used a curling wand to make it have big curls. Then I put on a bra to lift my boobs higher than they naturally are, Spanx to suck my torso to look smaller than it actually is, a dress, and high heels to make me look taller than I am. Then on my face I did a little concealer to make my skin look a more consistent color than it really is, eyeshadow and eyeliner to alter the appearance of my eyelids, mascara to make my eyelashes look longer and thicker and black (when they’re really just brown) eyebrow gel to darken my eyebrows, (but first I tweezed them to be a different shape than they really are.) Then some bronzer to make me look like I was blushing and some lip gloss to make my lips look shinier than they are naturally. And of course a little jewelry for some added sparkle. Next to me, my husband took a shower, dried off, put on his suit and flat shoes, and, okay, he did put lotion on his face and hands and put in one dab of one hair product in his hair. And he was ready to go. And I thought - wow. I just altered almost every aspect of my body in order to measure up to society’s beauty standards for women - and I spent a lot of time and thought and money on each and every one of the products that enabled me to meet those standards. And my husband altered nothing, and spent no extra money, and absolutely no extra thought. And I thought: I have been sold something here. Todays’ book is called The Beauty Myth, written by Naomi Wolf in 1991, and I am super excited to discuss it with my reading partner, Vanessa Loder. Hi, Vanessa!Vanessa: Hi, Amy! I am really thrilled to be here supporting you and this podcast. I have been trying to unwind all the ways I’ve internalized the patriarchy for the last decade and the layers of that onion just keep peeling back and go deeper than I ever realized. Amy: I met Vanessa in 2005, when my husband and Vanessa were assigned as table partners during their MBA at Stanford. Vanessa was like a 20,000 watt lightbulb - whip smart, hilarious, intimidatingly accomplished in her education and her career already even before business school, and drop-dead gorgeous. And yet she was also just so approachable and kind, she was impossible not to love, and we’ve actually become closer friends during the past few years at reunions and weddings and retreats and stuff, and I just adore you and am soooo grateful that you’re here today to talk about this book!Vanessa: (I’m saving all my mushy truths about you so I can surprise you and make you blush!) ;)Amy: So could you start us off by telling us a bit about yourself? Who you are, where you’re from, what makes you you.Vanessa: Bio.. Will do! Amy: I also like to ask my reading partners what interested them in Breaking Down Patriarchy. Vanessa: Why you agreed to do this :) As a feminist spiritual teacher, this is at the heart of who I am and the work I do in the world. But really, it comes from my own pain points. They say you teach what you most want to learn and that has definitely been the case for me. There are so many ways that I have accidentally internalized messaging I really don’t believe in by going along with mainstream messaging, culture, family and community beliefs and attitudes, and it hasn’t made me happy or fulfilled. It feels like some of the biggest and most important work of my life to intentionally unwind all the ways I’ve inadvertently internalized the patriarchy, and then carry that out into the world to create external change too. So yeah, this podcast couldn’t be more up my alley.Just last week, my husband had an old swim buddy over for beers. I found myself trying to keep the kids out of their way so they could have a nice catch up, and serving them a cheese platter while simultaneously stewing in resentment...I realized it just wouldn’t cross my husband’s mind to do either of these things if I had a girlfriend over whom I hadn’t seen in a long time. And my husband is a kind, thoughtful, loving and considerate man. Since getting married and having kids, I’ve noticed all these roles I automatically took on without pausing to consider if I WANTED to take them on. And frankly, at times I feel annoyed that I have to educate my husband
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