Book Review: The Vagenda – Holly Baxter & Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett

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Two women take on the media, welcome to The Vagenda.

If you’ve been following my blog for a while you know that I love a good non-fiction book, I was not disappointed by The Vagenda. Holly and Rhiannon had spent years surrounded by media that told them they were supposed to look, dress and act a certain way when they decided enough is enough. This is one of the books I wish I had growing up because by the end Holly and Rhiannon felt like two cool older sisters.

Now, I can understand people having a little apprehension about this but I can promise you it’s not a damning ‘we should hate everything and everyone’. Far from it, after finishing this book I felt more educated and stronger as a woman. Rhiannon and Holly don’t tell you how to live your life, they merely give their observations and how they’ve felt. Personally, I used to read a lot of magazines and it made me realise the impact it was having on me.

From being a teenager reading those magazines, moving on the celebrity gossip occasionally and then on to the big leagues of Cosmo, Glamour, Elle and Vogue, I was absorbing this. It was until I thought about my sister (who’s seven years younger) and started university I realised I didn’t have to like or agree with this stuff. Why is there less focus on female empowerment and intelligence rather than bikini waxes and blowjobs?

Nothing is off limits in this book from body politics to working women, from the idea of sex that magazines put in our heads and idealised beauty. Holly and Rhiannon have clearly done their research on the rise of magazine and beauty culture while incorporating the feelings and facts about how these impact real women.

The best thing though? This book will make you laugh. I absolutely howled at parts because of the ridiculousness of some of the marketing campaigns used, some of the wording choices. At the same time it made me really think about what I was taking in and the impact it had on my own thoughts and feelings. I rarely buy women’s glossy’s anymore because it doesn’t interest me. I read blogs about things I want to read about and embrace my shape and size.

This got a 5-star rating and I recommend it to absolutely everyone. It’s a body positive, female positive look at an industry that tried to magnify our imperfections. Holly and Rhiannon, I salute you.

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