As soon as a woman's primary social value could no longer be defined as the attainment of virtuous domesticity, the beauty myth redefined it as the attainment of virtuous beauty. It did so to substitute both a new consumer imperative and a new justification for economic unfairness in the workplace where the old ones had lost their hold over newly liberated women.
Vogue began to focus on the body as much as on the clothes, in part because there was little they could dictate with the anarchic styles...In a stunning move, an entire replacement culture was developed by naming a 'problem' where it had scarcely existed before, centering it on the women's natural state, and elevating it to the existential female dilemma...The number of diet-related articles rose 70 percent from 1968 to 1972...The lucrative 'transfer of guilt' was resurrected just in time.
In drawing attention to the physical characteristics of women leaders, they can be dismissed as either too pretty or too ugly. The net effect is to prevent women's identification with the issues. If the public women is stigmatized as too 'pretty,' she's a threat, a rival--or simply not serious; if derided as too 'ugly,' one risks tarring oneself with the same brush by identifying oneself with her agenda.
Young women today feel vulnerable to judgment; if a harsh sentence is passed (or even suspected or projected), it is not her reputation that suffers so much as the stability of her moral universe. They did not have long to explore the sexual revolution and make it their own. Before the old chains had grown cold, while young women were still rubbing the circulation back into their ankles and taking tentative steps forward, the beauty industries levied a heavy toll on further investigations, and beauty pornography offered them designer bondage.