Book Review: Girl Up – Laura Bates

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They told you you need to be thin and beautiful. They told you to wear longer skirts, avoid going out late at night and move in groups – never accept drinks from a stranger, and wear shoes you can run in more easily than heels. They told you to wear just enough make-up to look presentable but not enough to be a slut; to dress to flatter your apple, pear, hourglass figure, but not to be too tarty. They warned you that if you try to be strong, or take control, you’ll be shrill, bossy, a ballbreaker. Of course it’s fine for the boys, but you should know your place. They told you ‘that’s not for girls’ – ‘take it as a compliment’ – ‘don’t rock the boat’ – ‘that’ll go straight to your hips’. They told you ‘beauty is on the inside’, but you knew they didn’t really mean it. Well I’m here to tell you something different.

It’s no secret that I think Laura Bates is a feminist icon. The creator of the Everyday Sexism Project, author and ted talk member has stood up and said enough is enough. It is because of her that I realised that a lot of the ‘banter’ I’d felt uncomfortable with and fought against for years, only to be told I was overreacting, was actually assault. It made me feel better that I wasn’t ‘just overreacting’. After reading Everyday Sexism last year I eagerly pre ordered Girl Up and I’m so glad I did. I felt that in comparison to Laura’s last book this is much more about her finding her own voice within her writing. Not only was it funny but also distinctive in tone as well as topic.

While you could argue that this is aimed more at teenagers in some parts of the book, it’s fine with me because I really learnt a lot from this book. It’s true that there are some chapters that seem to be geared towards teenage girls but if I’d have had this book to clutch in my hormonal hands as a spotty teen I think I would have stood up for myself more. I would have been more vocal about my body, about sexism and about the fact that I have a voice too, something that was repeatedly silenced. Authors like Laura are using humor and wit to bring embarrassing subjects into the spotlight and make it easier for them to talk about. At the same time as a 21 year old, while reading I felt like Laura was an older sister I never had. She doesn’t shy away from the fact that she didn’t always call herself a feminist, that she too shied away from inappropriate comments and behaviour at the fear of ‘kicking off’. 

I one hundred percent feel that books like this alongside, How to be a Woman, The Vagenda, Letters to my Fanny and more will help to create a stronger set of young women who can feel proud to not only be women, but to be themselves. Oh and before I forget there are also dancing vagina’s because who doesn’t want a page of dancing vagina’s. I’m going to stop saying that now, even though I can’t explain how brilliant it is. All I want to say is READ IT, READ IT, READ IT! Of course I gave this 5 stars (*****), absolutely brilliant, well written and inspirational. Go and give it a read NOW!

Remember to connect with me on Goodreads here to see what I’m reading!

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