by Jennifer Baumgardner

Beautiful, for a Feminist

Dazzling, streaky-haired Gloria Steinem once said something along the lines of “No one thought I was so beautiful until I said I was a feminist.” Steinem was, I think, riffing on the popular myth about feminists: that we are ugly, too grotesque to get a man— and therefore our habits of running for office, landing a seat on the Supreme Court, or writing books are merely elaborate justifications for having no date on a Friday night. Steinem was also deflecting the notion that she is more beautiful, and thus more powerful, than other women. Helen Gurley Brown once remarked to me, “Well, she would say that — because she’s gorgeous. She doesn’t know what it’s like not to be gorgeous.”

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