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It’s a truism, for instance, that a few clothes are more shocking than none. But for women especially, bras, panties, bathing suits, and other stereotypical gear are visual reminders of a commercial, idealized feminine image that our real and diverse female bodies can’t possibly fit. Without those visual references, however, each individual woman’s body can be accepted on It’s a truism, for instance, that a few clothes are more shocking than none. But for women especially, bras, panties, bathing suits, and other stereotypical gear are visual reminders of a commercial, idealized feminine image that our real and diverse female bodies can’t possibly fit. Without those visual references, however, each individual woman’s body can be accepted on its own terms. We stop being comparatives. We begin to be unique. After spending a few days at a spa in the company of 90 or so women, Gloria Steinem wrote In Praise of Women’s Bodies, a short but powerful essay that’s part ode and part treatise and fully in awe of the female form, in all its unique variety. In Praise of Women’s Bodies was originally published in Ms., April 1982. Cover design by Adil Dara.


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It’s a truism, for instance, that a few clothes are more shocking than none. But for women especially, bras, panties, bathing suits, and other stereotypical gear are visual reminders of a commercial, idealized feminine image that our real and diverse female bodies can’t possibly fit. Without those visual references, however, each individual woman’s body can be accepted on It’s a truism, for instance, that a few clothes are more shocking than none. But for women especially, bras, panties, bathing suits, and other stereotypical gear are visual reminders of a commercial, idealized feminine image that our real and diverse female bodies can’t possibly fit. Without those visual references, however, each individual woman’s body can be accepted on its own terms. We stop being comparatives. We begin to be unique. After spending a few days at a spa in the company of 90 or so women, Gloria Steinem wrote In Praise of Women’s Bodies, a short but powerful essay that’s part ode and part treatise and fully in awe of the female form, in all its unique variety. In Praise of Women’s Bodies was originally published in Ms., April 1982. Cover design by Adil Dara.

30 review for In Praise of Women's Bodies (Singles Classic)

  1. 4 out of 5

    alexa (travelingreads)

    "A little natural togetherness would show us the Family of Woman, where each of us is beautiful and no one is the same." Great end to a beautiful day. "A little natural togetherness would show us the Family of Woman, where each of us is beautiful and no one is the same." Great end to a beautiful day.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Pardina

    I kind of want to go on a ladies' retreat after reading this. There was something moving and empowerment in the description of women being comfortable with women, supporting each other. I kind of want to go on a ladies' retreat after reading this. There was something moving and empowerment in the description of women being comfortable with women, supporting each other.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Mimi Carstairs

    A little naturalness together would show us the Family of Woman, where each of us is beautiful and no one is the same. Very interesting and insightful. Perhaps we'll only be fully at ease with ourselves when we can appreciate scars as symbols of experience, often experience that other women share, and see our bodies as unique chapters in a shared story. Gets the message across in less than 10 pages, and is written simply yet eloquently. But now I know: I know that fat or thin, mature or not, A little naturalness together would show us the Family of Woman, where each of us is beautiful and no one is the same. Very interesting and insightful. Perhaps we'll only be fully at ease with ourselves when we can appreciate scars as symbols of experience, often experience that other women share, and see our bodies as unique chapters in a shared story. Gets the message across in less than 10 pages, and is written simply yet eloquently. But now I know: I know that fat or thin, mature or not, our bodies wouldn't give us such unease if we learned their place in the rainbow spectrum of women. Beautiful imagery, too. Childbirth is more admirable than conquest, more amazing than self-defense, and as courageous as either one. I would recommend as a quick yet inspirational read, for men and women alike. From her, I learn there can be sisterly satisfaction, not subservience, in serving other women's bodies.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Bookfairy

    This reads more as an introspection think-piece than a short story, which isn't a bad thing, I didn't know what to expect going in. A very short read, a great look at how we see ourselves, and others. This reads more as an introspection think-piece than a short story, which isn't a bad thing, I didn't know what to expect going in. A very short read, a great look at how we see ourselves, and others.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    Wow! Enlightening quick read. It's short & written quite a few years back but very relevant. I will definitely share with my loved ones male & female. A great eye opener to some & affirmation for others. Wow! Enlightening quick read. It's short & written quite a few years back but very relevant. I will definitely share with my loved ones male & female. A great eye opener to some & affirmation for others.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Bentley

    I love Gloria Steinem’s writing. I came to her quite late on but I have enjoyed my sojourn into her world of feminism. This particular article – In Praise of Women’s Bodies really struck a chord with me. As a 34 year old woman I have never sat in the company of women in the nude. I didn’t grow up in a naked house and I can honestly say that the thought of doing so makes me feel incredibly uncomfortable. Not because of being naked in front of women just because being naked in front of anybody doe I love Gloria Steinem’s writing. I came to her quite late on but I have enjoyed my sojourn into her world of feminism. This particular article – In Praise of Women’s Bodies really struck a chord with me. As a 34 year old woman I have never sat in the company of women in the nude. I didn’t grow up in a naked house and I can honestly say that the thought of doing so makes me feel incredibly uncomfortable. Not because of being naked in front of women just because being naked in front of anybody doesn’t exactly fill me with comfort. Heck, I’ve never even worn a crop top. What I got from this article is that I want to want to be able to. I may never get to that completely comfortable place of feeling comfortable with my body around other women but I can at least hold on to the impression that I will one day. In Praise of Women’s Bodies by Gloria Steinem is available now. For more information regarding Gloria Steinem (@GloriaSteinem) please visit www.gloriasteinem.com.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Galley

    I grew up with a mother and sister in the same household. I've had both girlfriends and very close friends on a different part of the feminist scale. I've done a lot of feminist reading. Despite that... I do not know the pressures of being a woman in society. We can debate about the Patriarchy and the pink tax and the pay gap all we want. It's all political. From a societal standpoint this is probably the best piece I have ever read on the subject. This peace of work hit me. I listened to the audi I grew up with a mother and sister in the same household. I've had both girlfriends and very close friends on a different part of the feminist scale. I've done a lot of feminist reading. Despite that... I do not know the pressures of being a woman in society. We can debate about the Patriarchy and the pink tax and the pay gap all we want. It's all political. From a societal standpoint this is probably the best piece I have ever read on the subject. This peace of work hit me. I listened to the audible version on a drive home from work and thanked the red lights for letting me just sit there. I could summarise the points made in this but it is a very short read. What I want to do with this review is simple: recommend it and confirm that it is NOT the man-hating tomb people would easily declare it. If you want an insight into the pressures women have in terms of looks (we're not just talking figures, Steinem comments on everything from hair to scars), this is masterful.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Bibiana Krall

    In Praise of Women's Bodies by Gloria Steinem is a short and powerful, feminist essay about self-worth and the long journey to coming to peace with our own bodies. It made me think. I grew up flipping through fashion magazines and was in the ballet world for years and years. I was so skinny and unhealthy back then I had to wear a sweatshirt tied around my waist just to cushion my behind enough to sit in a chair. It doesn't change anything to compare what we look like, but many of us do it more th In Praise of Women's Bodies by Gloria Steinem is a short and powerful, feminist essay about self-worth and the long journey to coming to peace with our own bodies. It made me think. I grew up flipping through fashion magazines and was in the ballet world for years and years. I was so skinny and unhealthy back then I had to wear a sweatshirt tied around my waist just to cushion my behind enough to sit in a chair. It doesn't change anything to compare what we look like, but many of us do it more than we would ever admit. The billion dollar fashion and beauty industry caters to this desire every day. I'm not saying that I don't wear makeup or try to look and feel my best, but sometimes it goes to the extreme and when that new tropical-print bikini fades or fad diet is done, in truth, I always wish that I was a different me again. Many of us have been or currently are that woman or teen that never quite see what's reflected in the mirror and as we continue to criticize and analyze our physical selves for not being air-brushed or photo perfect, this can lead to many issues that can steal our joy and destroy our health. I love the bold idea that scars and stretch marks are beautiful and that after a few days of exposure to every sort of female body on a spa weekend or a safe space like the gym locker room, we might come back to center and realize that feminine beauty exists in all of us and it always has. So happy and empowered after reading this. Wish I had discovered it sooner.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Georgia (thefictionfolio)

    I wish someone had told me about this when I was writing an essay on the body and trauma? Or that time I was writing an essay on pregnant bodies? Apparently I wrote about bodies a lot at uni. This is short but powerful, well worth a read. "Too many of us experience female bodies, our own and others, in social settings and private bedrooms, only when they are most isolated, artificial, self-conscious, and on display for men or conventional judgement. A little natural togetherness would show us the I wish someone had told me about this when I was writing an essay on the body and trauma? Or that time I was writing an essay on pregnant bodies? Apparently I wrote about bodies a lot at uni. This is short but powerful, well worth a read. "Too many of us experience female bodies, our own and others, in social settings and private bedrooms, only when they are most isolated, artificial, self-conscious, and on display for men or conventional judgement. A little natural togetherness would show us the Family of Woman, where each of us is beautiful and no one is the same."

  10. 5 out of 5

    Allison Ulmer

    Food for thought Written in 82 for Ms. Magazine, the concepts in this article are simple, yet worded nicely. And they're worth consideration, even 35 years later. You would have thought we as a society would have advanced beyond the need for such a piece, but many still live in a world where mothers fat shame their daughters and a woman's value ends at her dress size. Here's to supporting one another instead of hurting one another! Food for thought Written in 82 for Ms. Magazine, the concepts in this article are simple, yet worded nicely. And they're worth consideration, even 35 years later. You would have thought we as a society would have advanced beyond the need for such a piece, but many still live in a world where mothers fat shame their daughters and a woman's value ends at her dress size. Here's to supporting one another instead of hurting one another!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Roseanne

    Full of Gentle-Feminist Anecdotes and Thoughtful Suggestions I loved how Steinem's words became the heartbeat of the gentle feminism that back-boned this essay about the beautiful bodies that make up the world of women. If you struggle with image, body or some kind of eating disorder; Or have had struggled with similar issues, you'd take away something helpful from reading this essay. Do it. I dare you. You won't regret it. Full of Gentle-Feminist Anecdotes and Thoughtful Suggestions I loved how Steinem's words became the heartbeat of the gentle feminism that back-boned this essay about the beautiful bodies that make up the world of women. If you struggle with image, body or some kind of eating disorder; Or have had struggled with similar issues, you'd take away something helpful from reading this essay. Do it. I dare you. You won't regret it.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    Though nearly 40 years has passed since written, my ability to relate to it in 2020 (with this pandemic I’m getting megatons of reading, podcasts, etc done) highlights two things: first, how much these thoughts are imbedded and I still carry from my generation and second, not only how little things have changed, but also that I wonder if the identity struggles and challenges around women’s perceptions of themselves and against other women may have worsened. Very thought provoking article.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Amara

    This was written a few months before I was born. I'll be 36 this year. And the plight of women has not changed. That's the saddest thing. The one thing I disagree with her with, is that she sometimes criticizes women who remove scars. If it makes a woman feel better about herself, let her. Praise her. Don't call her a hypocritical feminist. This was written a few months before I was born. I'll be 36 this year. And the plight of women has not changed. That's the saddest thing. The one thing I disagree with her with, is that she sometimes criticizes women who remove scars. If it makes a woman feel better about herself, let her. Praise her. Don't call her a hypocritical feminist.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Lavoie

    Slightly dated but still relevant Some of the writing is dated, for example saying that women don’t do sports or go to the gym, but the piece itself is still powerful because it is still relevant. There are few women who are able to share experiences like this and there is still so much shame when it comes to women’s bodies.

  15. 4 out of 5

    JESSICA JIMENEZ

    Good read I recommend for my fellow feminist or those that have been body shamed, have issues with their body image. It is good

  16. 4 out of 5

    ASprinkleOfImogen

    i adored the use of metaphors. the writing style wasn't my absolute favourite. but overall it was a really nice read. short. but still enjoyable i adored the use of metaphors. the writing style wasn't my absolute favourite. but overall it was a really nice read. short. but still enjoyable

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jasmine

    This short piece does contain some casual cissexism, and doesn't really delve deep into the issue. But it does make you think about the way we view our own and other women's bodies. This short piece does contain some casual cissexism, and doesn't really delve deep into the issue. But it does make you think about the way we view our own and other women's bodies.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Greg

    Interesting to get a snapshot of this perspective at a particular point in time.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Anastasia

    Great short read An easy and quick read with moving little tidbits scattered throughout. I'm interested in reading more of her books now. Great short read An easy and quick read with moving little tidbits scattered throughout. I'm interested in reading more of her books now.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    I feel lifted from this book. I think the most beautiful form of empowerment is the type you pull from yourself, books like this enable such love.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Terfa

    Witty and insightful A witty and insightful quick read. Fortunately we are now a bit more familiar with the topics she raises now.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jasmine Ward

    Great Quick little read that makes you feel empowered! I absolutely love and adore it and am glad to read it

  23. 5 out of 5

    Roland Martinez

    I always love Gloria's writing but this didn't have any revelations. I always love Gloria's writing but this didn't have any revelations.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Alanna-Jane

    This essay is perfect. Although, I find it incredibly sad that it was written in 1982 and sounds as current as if it was written yesterday.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Zoë

    3.5 stars.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Andy Calixto

    A quick read but although the narrative might be short, this is still an important perspective of what a male audience should be aware of whether it is obvious to them or not.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Tess Elliott

    I think Gloria Steinem just turned my depressive slump into euphoric optimism in about 10 minutes This essay has been on my "to read" list for ages. A refreshing, sharp, warm and witty read. 10 out of 10, would read again. I think Gloria Steinem just turned my depressive slump into euphoric optimism in about 10 minutes This essay has been on my "to read" list for ages. A refreshing, sharp, warm and witty read. 10 out of 10, would read again.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Diane Mecham

    Something to think about In praise of women .Be proud of your scars.That will take some time to get used to. But I think it is time.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Maya

    3.5 stars

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jazmine

    A perfect little 10 minute read about being comfortable and feeling beautiful in your own skin. Every body type is a good body type! I really needed this book.

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