I found it a life-changing book, in that it changed the way I see beauty, and that is something that (like it or not) we have all been conditioned into thinking is important.
Her phrase 'different and deferent' stuck with me. When I see a woman in high heels and very groomed I don't think 'How empowered!' so much as 'Yes, she's fulfilling patriarchal beauty standards very effectively!'
I am up to the part where she mentions women's clothes not having functional pockets. I remember being very annoyed by this in my late teens (as I was railing against 'the handbag', which seemed so crucial to my mother's life) and took to wearing an old suit jacket of my dad's - it was so practical and easy for e.g. cycling!
But I do remember male friends asking why I didn't just buy clothes with pockets then - they did not seem to get that it wasn't a choice open to me, none were available.
I now carry a handbag but have been inspired by this to see if there are any alternatives out there. I do feel that handbags are another part of 'vulnerability' - lose them , have them snatched, have them 'pickpocketed' etc that is much reduced for men who have inner pockets etc - still vulnerable to the professional thief, I suppose, but less to the opportunist.
Ok, so can you suggest to me reasons why should I read this book, please? My make-up etc is my armour against the world - I'd like to be a strong enough confident enough person to go without, but I'm not yet (and I'm in the happiest place in my life so far) so it's likely I won't ever be. Sad as it is, I quite like conforming to patriarchal standards, and it's not that I'm particularly proud of that. I'm worried that reading this book will make me feel bad for doing so. Can I read it without guilt do you think?
Eek, you chucked out heels?! I can't quite contemplate that. And this is from someone who quite literally tortured herself with the damn things ten days ago. It hurt. Really quite a lot. (But I hadn't taken enough sensible alternatives on holiday with me).
My 'instinctive' (patriarchal?) response to her describing lipstick wearing and FGM as both harmful to women was "That doesn't seem reasonable" but when she drew in the other steps on the scale e.g. high heels, breast reduction and labiaplasty, it did seem a fair to see it as a spectrum of practices.
I don't think it is a particularly 'comfortable' read. I don't wear make up much but do undertake other beauty practices that are described. I think it's useful to prompt thinking about these things but the author doesn't (at least so far) exhort everyone to give them up - just to be aware of the cultural context.