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The Power of Beauty Hardcover – May, 1996

11 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews Review

The whole notion that beauty is somehow politically incorrect is not exactly Nancy Friday's cup of tea. "Beauty is a player," she writes in The Power of Beauty, "Stalking the streets bare-breasted, stiletto heeled, fly unzipped." One of the more successful sex gurus of the last couple decades, Friday believes that the world would be a much better place if women could only stop pretending that beauty isn't important. And of course it wouldn't hurt if they started enjoying sex a little more, too: "It is a terrible waste of natural resources that we don't ... educate women to beam post-orgasmically upon the world."

From Publishers Weekly

Bestselling author Friday (My Mother/My Self) here turns in a hefty, ambitious tome, an uneasy mix of cultural analysis, autobiographical confessional, pop psychology and sexology, loosely built around the theme of society's overvaluation of personal appearance and physical beauty. She ruefully notes women's dissatisfaction with their bodies; boys and men, she observes, are less involved in their looks. Scolding feminists for abandoning the quest for women's sexual freedom, she paradoxically argues that they should stop debunking beauty and instead recognize its pervasive influence in our lives and make better use of it. There is much here on women's culturally conditioned sexual guilt and self-hatred, girls' suppressed rage at their mothers, adult erotic fantasies?themes familiar to readers of Friday's previous books. She also comments in passing on a multitude of topics from fashion and the beauty industry to incest, envy, popular movies, women in the workplace, Hillary Clinton, the swinging 1960s and sibling rivalry. While devoted fans will be captivated, others may be stupefied by a free-floating meditation filled with capsule summaries of other writers, facile generalizations, platitudes and repetitive gush. $175,000 ad/promo; translation rights: HarperCollins; author tour.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 589 pages
  • Publisher: Harpercollins; 1st edition (May 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060171405
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060171407
  • Product Dimensions: 1.8 x 6.8 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,110,664 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Julie A. Sawitzke on July 31, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Nancy Friday is a great writer, no doubt, but this book did not ring true for me. Yes, it was part memoir; but she makes assertions based on her experiences that are a bit of a stretch. She is Freudian, insisting that female and male rage at each other is a result of infantile powerlessness in the face of mother's omnipotence, which may or may not be true. But she insists that if more men got into the nursery it would relieve infantile rage by giving children more than one pair of eyes to "see" them and thus relieving dependence on mom (and women in general). She says that fathers are less squeamish about diapers and genitalia, and women are generally disapproving of masturbation and sex, and that our present gender inequities are the result of attitudes each of learns of our bodies in infancy from mom. The power of beauty is used by women to be seen, as we didn't as infants. This author grew up without a father, and it is apparent throughout the book that she idealizes men, and is over sympathetic to how feminism has affected them. Moreover, she asserts that women are barring the door for men to enter the nursery. This I find absurd. Of course there are exceptions to the rule, but men don't enter the nursery because they don't WANT to enter the nursery. Anyone who has cared for an infant (and the author has not) knows that it is (rewarding, yes) but also exhausting, grueling, messy, and time consuming; and men gratefully leave it to women, preferring to work outside the home. If that isn't it, another likely reason is because of what other men (and perhaps women) would think of them for taking paternity leave; it is NOT women who are barring the door.Read more ›
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Carmen Matthews on November 29, 2002
Format: Hardcover
While this book is an autobiography of Nancy Friday, about her ambivalence between her desire to be seen, and her desire to not be seen, the bigger message is that she is using her life experiences to communicate that all women live with this ambivalence, throughout our entire lives.
And I am grateful for her willingness to be so visible, in hopes that we all will face our authentic selves.
My favorite messages from this book are:
· "If I can persuade you how beauty inspires envy and then how resentment sucks all the joy out of beauty, I will have accomplished something that is not easy for me, for I have envied nothing more in life than beauty, envied it in others and never believed in a bit of what I might have owned; to have enjoyed my own would have invited the spiteful envy of others, or so I feared."
· "The irony is that women feel easier about entering the workplace, providing for ourselves, challenging and acting like men than we do in confronting one another over the uses of beauty. We still practice the denial of beauty's power out of fear of reprisals from other women. At times it is as if men don't even exist."
· "Before women can enjoy the rewards that come with the beauty we now work so hard to purchase, we must learn to see our beauty as power."
· "Young women sacrifice so much at the advent of adolescence and then hate men for not rewarding us adequately for everything we gave up for them. But boys did not ask it of us. We did it, drank the KoolAid and then hated boys for not raising us from the dead with a power they never possessed in the first place.
To those who gave such strongly "negative" reviews about this book, could it be that it is not easy for many people to admit how envious most people are, over the beauty that they recognize in others?
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 27, 1998
Format: Hardcover
I'll keep it brief. The Booklist review was right. I thought I'd get intelligent, psychological discourse on how beauty affects our lives. Instead Friday uses it as an excuse to wax poetic about her childhood. It sounds like she sat down with a girlfriend, a bottle of booze and a tape recorder and just blabbed. It should've been called, "Everything You Already Knew About the Power of Beauty But Were Too Lazy to Write 400 pages about".
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10 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 24, 1998
Format: Paperback
I was SOOO disappointed. It was horrible. I have to admit I only made it through the first two chapters and then the chapter on men (and I almost Never stop reading books). (My roommate read the whole thing and she didn't like it either). Does this woman have ISSUES!! She mentions at the beginning that if you're not totally hung up on how you look, it's probably because you tried to play the beauty game and lost. Mostly she talks about how her father abandoned her and her mother ignored her and this is the reasons she is the way she is (plus her incestuous grandfather played a big roll). She totally bashes feminism - citing nearly every stereotype in the book. Blames women for their women dress "sexually" are asking for sexual attention. Can you tell she likes Camille Paglia and writes favorably about her? (of course she hates Gloria Steinem and makes several snide remarks and completely dismisses Naomi Wolf). I can't think of anything else... I'm trying to block it. :) I just wanted to warn people to look at the book before ordering it!!
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