Cover image for Beauty sick : how the cultural obsession with appearance hurts girls and women / Renne Engeln, PhD.
Beauty sick : how the cultural obsession with appearance hurts girls and women / Renne Engeln, PhD.
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Harper, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, 2017.

Physical Description:
xiv, 383 pages ; 24 cm


Library Branch
Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
1 Nechako Branch 305.42 ENG Book Adult General Collection

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An award-winning Northwestern University psychology professor reveals how the cultural obsession with women's appearance is an epidemic that harms women's ability to get ahead and to live happy, meaningful lives, in this powerful, eye-opening work in the vein of Naomi Wolf, Peggy Orenstein, and Sheryl Sandberg.

Today's young women face a bewildering set of contradictions when it comes to beauty. They don't want to be Barbie dolls but, like generations of women before them, are told they must look like them. They're angry about the media's treatment of women but hungrily consume the very outlets that belittle them. They mock modern culture's absurd beauty ideal and make videos exposing Photoshopping tricks, but feel pressured to emulate the same images they criticize by posing with a "skinny arm." They understand that what they see isn't real but still download apps to airbrush their selfies. Yet these same young women are fierce fighters for the issues they care about. They are ready to fight back against their beauty-sick culture and create a different world for themselves, but they need a way forward.

In Beauty Sick, Dr. Renee Engeln, whose TEDx talk on beauty sickness has received more than 250,000 views, reveals the shocking consequences of our obsession with girls' appearance on their emotional and physical health and their wallets and ambitions, including depression, eating disorders, disruptions in cognitive processing, and lost money and time. Combining scientific studies with the voices of real women of all ages, she makes clear that to truly fulfill their potential, we must break free from cultural forces that feed destructive desires, attitudes, and words--from fat-shaming to denigrating commentary about other women. She provides inspiration and workable solutions to help girls and women overcome negative attitudes and embrace their whole selves, to transform their lives, claim the futures they deserve, and, ultimately, change their world.

Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

Engeln teaches psychology at Northwestern University where she runs the Body and Media Lab (BAM), and became known for her 2013 TEDx talk, "An Epidemic of Beauty Sickness." A scholar at ease with social media and popular culture, she offers compelling evidence about how women and girls have been "brainwashed" into believing stereotypes about what is "beautiful." This never-ending quest, Engeln suggests, leaves women dispirited, unable to use their time more meaningfully, and lighter in the pocketbook each time they buy new products that promise them (however enlightened they appear to be) love and happiness. Although obviously angry, the author can also be judicious and honest about the quandaries women (including herself) face. VERDICT There's a world of complexity attached to the idea of being beautiful, and this well-written discussion about particular aspects of it should be well received in both public and academic libraries.-Ellen Gilbert, Princeton, NJ © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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