The sins are the advertisers'

Issue 

The sins are the advertisers'

Real Gorgeous: the truth about body and beauty
By Kaz Cooke
Allen and Unwin, 1994. 260 pp., $19.95
Reviewed by Kylie Budge

"According to diet lore, 'indulging' or 'giving in to temptation' is a 'sin'. (Strangling a few people is a sin. Invading East Timor is a sin. 'Ethnic cleansing' is a sin. Testing nuclear weapons is a sin. I'm sorry, but eating doesn't quite make the grade.)"

In Real Gorgeous, Kaz Cooke sets out to put the story straight about the lies the diet, fashion and cosmetic industries feed to women about their bodies. In this book, which is brilliantly illustrated with Kaz's cartoons, she puts forward a feminist description of how women are lied to and brainwashed about what is "good" for their bodies. She cleverly reveals the interest of the diet industry in making women feel bad about their bodies, making them feel guilty about the way they look, and making eating, in general, a sin resulting in punishment.

Cooke's style is informative but humorous and easily accessible. Women of all ages will find it empowering because the message it's sending out gives women a different framework to think and question from. Real Gorgeous is full of amazing facts and figures which disarm the powerful sway of advertisements that dictate women's body image.

Real Gorgeous: the truth about body and beauty is a very funny, esteem-building read which takes on a very real issue — the exploitation of women by profit-seeking industries connected in one way or other to women's bodies and images. Its content is similar in parts to that in Naomi Wolf's The Beauty Myth, but it is much more accessible for young women in approach and style. In fact, young women will find Real Gorgeous a powerful antidote to what the media and advertising are telling them about their bodies.