BOOKS: CONFRONTING THE BEAUTY MYSTIQUE

NANCY FRIDAY COMBINES A PERSONAL JOURNEY WITH A PSYCHOSOCIAL ANALYSIS

Reading Nancy Friday's The Power of Beauty (HarperCollins; 589 pages; $27.50) can make one very self-conscious. Provoked by the author's analysis of feminine self-loathing, the haunting doubts creep in. What do I look like perusing this book? Am I envious of younger women whose toned arms could lift this nearly 600-page opus in consecutive rotations while riding a mountain bike? Could it be that I am home alone with The Power of Beauty because I am frightened of expressing the full range of my repressed sexuality? Or have I come a long enough way--from my mother, from 1960s-brand feminism, from female...

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