I know many of us have already read The Beauty Myth, Naomi Wolf's 1991 screed against tyrannical ideals of beauty. But at this point, it's worth revisiting the bestseller — or reading it for the first time if you haven't already. Wolf turns a critical eye on advertisers, magazines, and our culture in general, pointing out the unrealistic standards that we women try to attain. Women, she argues, are kept busy trying to live up to a perfect standard of female beauty, and in the process, we miss out on creating more solid accomplishments.
When the book was published, Wolf took a lot of heat for her questionable statistics about eating disorders. (Fair enough, but whether 100 or 1000 women starve themselves to death every year, shouldn't we still try to improve body image?) And in 2008, some of Wolf's observations seem almost quaint in the age of size 00, Botox and extreme Photoshop. Still, any woman who's interested in beauty should read this book. Doing so doesn't mean you have to lose your lipstick or give up your highlights, but Wolf's ideas will make you question the way you define beauty.