Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Be Awesome

Be Awesome
Hadley Freeman
London, HarperCollins, 2013, 266p

I have been reluctant to finish this book - I wanted it to go on forever. But even the best things must eventually come to an end. I just wish Hadley Freeman was my friend.

Be Awesome is a bold, bright guide to life for intelligent, modern women. Freeman discusses fashion, culture and society, listing her ten favourite books and offering answers to all your dating woes. Her message is to be true to yourself and she gently coaxes you, the reader, to realise you are awesome. 

This book is unashamedly feminist. Today, feminism seems to be getting a bad reputation and few women want to associate themselves with this label. As Hadley notes, this is madness. Feminism is about equality: it is about variety and identity. For both men and women, it is about being brave enough to be who you want to be and/or who you are: it is no more about hiding behind gender stereotypes or being ashamed of success than it is about bra burning or acting 'masculine'.  

I have often found myself frustrated by some of the issues explored in this book and unable to explain why. If everyone read Be Awesome, they might have a better understanding of some of the things in my head. Like why do women over-analyse dates and relationships, trying to decipher the meanings of their companions every word and action? Why does it matter so much? The important thing is whether you like him, surely? And why do some newspapers simultaneously chastise one celebrity for being too thin whilst another is too fat. And why do so many movies contain nameless, personality-free female characters who only ever chat about men; unless the female is the protagonist, in which case she will only find "happiness" when she settles down to marry and have children in suburbia. Because of course we could never have it all!

There is so much to admire about this book and it's author: from the witty tone to the intelligent approach to every tiny detail. It is honest and observant, and I found it perfectly expresses so many of issues I struggle to articulate, including why Persuasion is one of the best novels ever written.  

Also, there are references to The Princess Bride throughout - who doesn't love the Dread Pirate Roberts?

This blog post is preemptively dedicated to all the people to whom I will recommend this book for the rest of my life, starting with award-winning Esme. 

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