Girl Up by Laura Bates

Girl Up has been presented as a guide for teenage girls – which is accurate, that’s exactly what it’s written to be – so I wasn’t bothered. I’m not a teenager, I know about feminism, blah blah blah. So I wasn’t going to buy it. But I was in Waterstones and I accidentally bought it, still kind of sceptical but I do always enjoy a book on feminism. Basically, I wasn’t expecting it to have that much of an effect on me.

Wrong. I bought it and immediately started it, sat in a coffee shop, and proceeded to cry in public. Twice.

The thing that made me cry was the chapter on body confidence. It just rang painfully true. The parts that weren’t true for me personally were true of women I know, and it got to me. Normally, writing on women’s relationships with their bodies falls quite flat for me, because I can know as much as I want about how I ought to have a positive relationship with my body and how there’s all this pressure on women to look a certain way but the reality is I still hate my stomach. And no, this book didn’t finally make me stop hating my stomach, but it did strike a chord in terms of the way I think about my own body.

As for the rest of the book, I don’t have much to say either way. It’s funny, and if you’re a few years younger than me, or buying for a teenage girl, it’s definitely a fantastic choice. As the quote from Emma Watson that’s in the front says, anything that helps you navigate the minefield of being a teenage girl is brilliant and needed and important. But I have basically navigated it. I’m 22, and while I’ve got a lot of growing up left to do, I don’t really need tips for staying safe online or an explanation of sexual consent.

Ultimately, I enjoyed it but my snap judgement was basically correct. It didn’t blow my mind, basically, but it’s funny enough to be worth it. And that chapter on body confidence – well, shit.


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