Book Review: Making Pretty by Corey Ann Haydu
Use this mascara for longer, fuller lashes. Use this cream to reduce wrinkles and fine lines. Use this cream to fade your dark spots. Use this hair dye to cover your gray. Use this lipstick for fuller. more kissable lips. Wear this type of dress/shirt/pants/skirt/top to look slimmer/bustier/more appealing to men. And here are the things women do that men hate . . . These are just a few of the constant messages that women start receiving at an incredibly young age, messages that tell us that we have to look a certain way to be confident and attract the opposite sex. Messages that tell us we have to do more, be more, and suffer more in order to be “desirable”. This is a huge part of what MAKING PRETTY by Corey Ann Haydu is about – how we teach girls from a very young age to hate the way they look, thus hating themselves.
Sometimes a book so moves me that I feel like I have to write a letter to the author. Sometimes I have done that publicly, but MAKING PRETTY led me to write a very private one to Corey Ann Hyadu. You see, I have never been comfortable in my own skin. I have never felt good enough or pretty enough, and in some ways I know the reasons for that. Part of it is culture and part of it is the things that have been said and done to me and around me in my home and in my personal life. I related all too well with the girls we meet in MAKING PRETTY. I have been these girls. I am these girls. And I have worked with these girls for 20 years now. Corey Ann Haydu captures so much of these girls in pitch perfect ways I was moved to compassion for myself and every girl like me that has to weather the storm that is being a girl in contemporary society. It’s so hard to love yourself in a world that constantly tells you that you have no reason to.
Cultural messaging can be a harmful beast. The institutionalized and internalized image issues that get handed down to us in subtle and often unconscious ways can really mess with your head. It’s the photoshopped images in magazines. The way we talk about girls weight to them and in front of them in ways that we don’t with men. It’s the way we sit around and watch award shows just to pick apart the way the women look in ways that we often don’t with men. It’s the constant barrage of ads aimed at women about make-up and fine lines and wrinkles and beauty creams and hair dye. We are constantly being told if we buy this and do that then it might make us more worthy, more loveable. There is an entire industry that is bankrolled on the backs of women’s insecurities, people grow rich telling us the lie that if we just did x, y or z then we might finally be worthy of love and acceptance.
The stories I could tell you. That I want to. The girls I have seen hurting. And before anyone leaves me a comment saying but what about the men, I will readily admit that men can and do struggle with body image issues, we have even written about that here at TLT. But it also feels like they aren’t targeted as much as women. For every male baldness or Bowflex ad I see it seems like I see 10 ads for women’s beauty products. Entire industries are built on making women hate themselves.
In addition to the way Haydu perfectly captures the brokenness that we often inflict upon our girls with our unreasonable beauty standards and messaging, MAKING PRETTY is also just amazingly well written; it’s a good, well written story. There are so many perfectly written and emotive sentences that I am going to go back and write in my quote journal. There are so many girls and parents I want to hand this to and say here, read this. To the girls I want to say you are enough. And to the parents and our culture I want to say stop making our girls feel like they aren’t enough. This book is a great tool to help do that. It’s a good story with poignant insight. We’re so busy trying worrying about “making pretty” we forget to worry about “making whole”.
Everyone – every man, woman, and teen – should read this book. I highly recommend it.
I love this book. Thank you for writing it.
Publisher’s Book Description:
Montana and her sister, Arizona, are named after the mountainous states their mother left them for. But Montana is a New York City girl through and through, and as the city heats up, she’s stepping into the most intense summer of her life.
With Arizona wrapped up in her college world and their father distracted by yet another divorce, Montana’s been immersing herself in an intoxicating new friendship with a girl from her acting class. Karissa is bold, imperfectly beautiful, and unafraid of being vulnerable. She’s everything Montana would like to become. But the friendship with Karissa is driving a wedge between Montana and her sister, and the more of her own secrets Karissa reveals, the more Montana has to wonder if Karissa’s someone she can really trust.
In the midst of her uncertainty, Montana finds a heady distraction in Bernardo. He’s serious and spontaneous, and he looks at Montana in the way she wants to be seen. For the first time, Montana understands how you can become both lost and found in somebody else. But when that love becomes everything, where does it leave the rest of her imperfect life?
Coming May 12th, 2015 from Katherine Tegen Books. ISBN: 9780062294081
Ally Watkins sent me a copy of her ARC to read.
Body Image and Eating Disorders
- Top 10 teen titles dealing with body image and eating disorders
- The Girl in the Fiberglass Corset; a story about scoliosis and eating disorders
- Let’s Hear it for the Boys
- Pop Culture and Body Image Issues for Gay Teens, a guest post
- National Eating Disorders Awareness Week: True confessions from a recovering anorexic
- Every Day by David Levithan, a book review
- Butter by Erin Jade Lange, a book review
- The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson, a book review
- Skinny by Donna Conner, a review
- A Second Opinion: Every Day by David Levithan
- 10 Titles that deal with Obesity and Body Image (with links to some good articles)
- Today is Love Your Body Day
- The Effects of Pop Culture on the Body Image of GLBT Teens
- Body Image and Weight Loss
- Sex Sells, but what are we selling? Pop culture and body image issues in tweens and teens
- Take a Second Look: Books that encourage teens to look beyond body image
- Abercrombie and Fitch, Brave and Body Image: Part 1 and Part 2
- Skin and Bones by Sherry Shahan
- How I Came to Love School Uniforms: a discussion of girls, boys and the dangerous message of school dress codes
- An eating disorders booklist, updated 2015
- Book Reviews: Elena Vanishing, A Memoir by Elena and Clare B. Dunkle
Filed under: Body Image
About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
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