“Sadly, the signals that allow men and women to find the partners who most please them are scrambled by the sexual insecurity initiated by beauty thinking. A woman who is self-conscious can’t relax to let her sensuality come into play. If she is hungry she will be tense. If she is ‘done up’ she will be on the alert for her reflection in his eyes. If she is ashamed of her body, its movements will be stilled. If she does not feel entitled to claim attention, she will not demand the airspace to shine in. If his field of vision has been boxed in by ‘beauty’ – a box continually shrinking – he simply will not see her, his real love, standing right before him.

‘Christian Lacroix gives women back their femininity’, reads the fashion headline. ‘Femininity’ is code for femaleness plus whatever a society happens to be selling. If ‘femininity’ means female sexuality and its loveliness, women never lost it and do not need to buy it back. Wherever we feel pleasure, all women have ‘good’ bodies. We do not have to spend money and go hungry and struggle and study to become sensual; we always were. We need not believe we must somehow earn good erotic care; we always deserved it.

Femaleness and its sexuality are beautiful. Women have long secretly suspected as much. In that sexuality, women are physically beautiful already, superb; breathtaking. (…)

The Big Lie is the notion that if a lie is big enough, people will believe it. The idea that adult women, with their fully developed array of sexual characteristics, are inaedequate to stimulate and gratify heterosexual male desire, and that ‘beauty’ is what will complete them, is the beauty myth’s Big Lie. All around us, men are contradicting it. The fact is that the myth’s version of sexuality is by definition just not true: Most men who are at this moment being aroused by women, flirting with them, in love with them, dreaming about them, having crushes on them, or making love to them, are doing so to women who look exactly like who they are.”

Naomi Wolf, The Beauty Myth, Harper Perennial 2002, p. 177/178