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Why is there pressure on women to improve our appearance?

For many women, the main reason to 'improve' our appearance is to attract and win the approval of men. We have been conditioned to think we must compete with each other for male attention—and to get attention and provoke envy in other women. Many feminists believe this is a consequence of living in a patriarchal society. Women are judged intensely on our looks because men have a disproportionate amount of power and control; in patriarchal societies, women gain status through relationships with men, and appearance serves as a measure of our desirability as sexual partners.

All of us must contend with the constant onslaught of media and cultural messages telling us that we need to improve our appearance. Researchers have found that the more we identify with what are considered negative 'feminine' traits, like passivity, dependence, and unassertiveness, the more likely we are to suffer from body image problems and disordered eating, regardless of our sexual orientation or gender identity.

Our Bodies, Ourselves: A New Edition for a New Era

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Our Bodies, Ourselves: A New Edition for a New Era

America's best-selling book on all aspects of women's health With more than four million copies sold, "Our Bodies, Ourselves" is "the" classic resource that women of all ages can turn to for...

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.