Cover image for The beauty suit : how my year of religious modesty made me a better feminist
Title:
The beauty suit : how my year of religious modesty made me a better feminist
ISBN:
9780807093924
Physical Description:
184 pages ; 22 cm
Summary:
A young feminist finds herself questioning why "hotness" has become necessary for female empowerment--and looks for alternatives. Looking good feels good. But in a society where looking good is posited as being strong, while negotiating for better pay is statistically proven to damage our careers, is it fair to say that wicked eyeliner, weekly blowouts, and a polished Instagram feed are the keys to our liberation? If so--if "hot" really is a good enough synonym for "empowered"--why do so many of us feel, deep in our bones, that the sexy-as-strong model is a distraction? Is "pretty" still the closest to power women can get? Why is looking fierce an acceptable substitute for living in a world where women are safe?Inspired in seminary by American Muslimahs who wear the hijab for feminist reasons, Lauren Shields took off what she calls the Beauty Suit--the "done" hair, the tasteful and carefully applied makeup, the tight clothes and foot-binding shoes--for nine months. She'd really only wanted to do an experiment. Instead, her life--especially her views on what constitutes "liberation"--changed forever.Rooted in feminist theory and religious history, and guided by a snappy personal narrative, The Beauty Suit unpacks modern American womanhood: a landscape where the female body is still so often the battleground for male ideals, and where we struggle with our rights as human beings to define and exercise our freedom.
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Summary

Summary

A young feminist finds herself questioning why "hotness" has become necessary for female empowerment--and looks for alternatives.

Looking good feels good. But in a society where looking good is posited as being strong, while negotiating for better pay is statistically proven to damage our careers, is it fair to say that wicked eyeliner, weekly blowouts, and a polished Instagram feed are the keys to our liberation? If so--if "hot" really is a good enough synonym for "empowered"--why do so many of us feel, deep in our bones, that the sexy-as-strong model is a distraction? Is "pretty" still the closest to power women can get? Why is looking fierce an acceptable substitute for living in a world where women are safe?

Inspired in seminary by American Muslimahs who wear the hijab for feminist reasons, Lauren Shields took off what she calls the Beauty Suit--the "done" hair, the tasteful and carefully applied makeup, the tight clothes and foot-binding shoes--for nine months. She'd really only wanted to do an experiment. Instead, her life--especially her views on what constitutes "liberation"--changed forever.

Rooted in feminist theory and religious history, and guided by a snappy personal narrative, The Beauty Suit unpacks modern American womanhood: a landscape where the female body is still so often the battleground for male ideals, and where we struggle with our rights as human beings to define and exercise our freedom.


Author Notes

Lauren Shields holds BFAs in religious studies and television, film, and music production, and a master of divinity degree. She is seeking ordination in the United Church of Christ. She lives in San Jose, California, with her husband.


Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

Shields made a name for herself with her 2013 Salon article, "My Year of Modesty," in which the author questioned "the Beauty Suit"-the high investment of time and money that women spend to look good and thus, hopefully, be taken seriously. It was here that she first suggested that feminists can be inadvertently patriarchal since women from more religiously defined groups do not adhere to these norms and somehow feel freer. For this, she suffered a stream of vigorous feminist criticism. Here, she clarifies and expands upon the ideas in her article, calling her nine months of "religiously inspired modesty" a challenge to the belief that "nothing is more important than looking good, every single day of our lives." Further, this is not about men at all; it's about women finding new concepts of beauty and empowerment, especially within religiously inspired norms. VERDICT Although Shields can be faulted for some generalizations (for example, most don't view the 1960s women's liberation movement as freedom from restrictive clothing), she allows readers an extended reflection on our notions of self.-Sandra Collins, Byzantine Catholic Seminary Lib., Pittsburgh © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Table of Contents

Introductionp. 1
Chapter 1 Katy Perry in a Leopard Bustier: The Problem with Sexy Feminismp. 12
Chapter 2 "Is This Really Any Better?": Islam and the Couch Epiphanyp. 41
Chapter 3 Still Not a Nun: How to Be a Christian Feministp. 64
Chapter 4 Less G-String, More Gucci: Christianity and Consumerismp. 86
Chapter 5 Tech and Tzniuf. The Digital Suit versus Jewish Modestyp. 111
Chapter 6 Worldwide Beauty: The "Social Skin"p. 140
Conclusion Now What?p. 162
Acknowledgmentsp. 173
Notesp. 175