Picks and Pans Review: Beauty Bound

updated 03/17/1986 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/17/1986 AT 01:00 AM EST

by Rita Freedman

Thoughtful, if sometimes naive, this book examines the destructive impact of our culture's obsession with youth and looks, especially in women. While the author, a Scarsdale, N.Y. clinical psychologist, does an excellent job in looking at the beauty myth from a feminist's perspective, she did not do the kind of journalistic research that might have made some of her conclusions more credible. For example, she generalizes that most men value feminine beauty above all else, without discussing whether modern attitudes are changing such value systems. Freedman also gets too preachy, at one point telling readers: "Too many women spend too many hours in therapy trying to overcome their failure to adjust to the feminine role when it is not the masochist within but the sadist without that needs reform." That said, there is much in this book that is interesting and helpful. The author cautions adults to praise little girls in ways that do not make them feel as though their whole lives will revolve around how well they do in beauty contests, formal or informal. Freedman notes the popularity of Barbie dolls, of which more than 330 million have been sold. She also reports that some beauty-obsessed parents are urging 14-year-olds to have breast reductions. Anyone contemplating such a reckless step should buy this book instead, and it wouldn't hurt the rest of us worshipers of the superficial either. (Lexington Books, $16.95)

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