The Power of Beauty

Front Cover
HarperPerennial, Apr 10, 1997 - Social Science - 608 pages
Nancy Friday introduced readers to such watershed issues as the mother-daughter bond and female sexual fantasies. Now the author of "My Mother/My Self," "My Secret Garden" and "Jealousy" explores an even more provocative subject: how looks affect our lives, and life affects our looks .""

We live in a culture, says Friday, that trades in the currency of seeing and being seen. In the patriarchal days of the Old Deal, when men provided for women, male power and female beauty were bartered. Women's absolute control of the beauty purse-strings continued until it was outlawed by feminism in the '70s. While the importance of looks went underground for a time, the power of beauty has reemerged with a vengeance. If the '80s were the decade of greed, the '90s are a decade of lust -- for the beauty that will draw all eyes to us.

"The Power of Beauty" traces the importance of looks in our lives from our first hours in the nursery through childhood, adolescence, the years as adults and parents and into old age. It examines developmentally the author's own experiences: The stages of life itself, the feminist revolution that for the past 30 years has rocked relationships between men and women and contemporary culture from high art to pop. In addition, it draws on a decade of research Friday has conducted on the psychology of physical appearance, including focus groups, symposia and a national survey conducted with DVG Inc.

Part personal odyssey, part cultural memoir, "The Power of Beauty" sweeps through the decades, blending an alluring array of controversial ideas with astute, outspoken reportage. Only Friday could write so lyrically and seamlessly about fashion, male bashing, women'sfear of competition, the shoe as a sexual icon, psychoanalytic theory, the pain of adolescence, envy, the double standard of aging, erotic adventures, fairy tales, feminism and love."A thorough explanation of the meaning of beauty." "--Time Magazine"

"A pull-yourself-up -by-your-pumps manifesto." "--Boston Globe"

"Fascinating...recommended highly." "--New York Observer"

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About the author (1997)

Nancy Friday was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on August 27, 1937. She graduated from Wellesley College in 1955 and moved to Puerto Rico, where she worked as a travel reporter and editor. She moved to New York in the 1960s and worked in public relations. She made a career of writing about women's issues. Her first book, My Secret Garden: Women's Sexual Fantasies, was published in 1973. Her other books included Forbidden Flowers: More Women's Sexual Fantasies, My Mother/My Self: The Daughter's Search for Identity, Jealousy, The Power of Beauty, Women on Top: How Real Life Has Changed Women's Sexual Fantasies, and Men in Love: Men's Sexual Fantasies: The Triumph of Love Over Rage. She also wrote a work of fiction entitled Lulu: A Novella. She died from complications of Alzheimer's disease on November 5, 2017 at the age of 84.

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