Review: ‘Girl Up’ by Laura Bates

Hi there! A bit ago I reviewed ‘Everyday Sexism’ by Laura Bates, and for Christmas I got another book by the same author! Written in 2017, this is a modern guide to being a woman, including excerpts from other women, and their experiences, as well as handy advice about everything from social media to sex. There’s even a diagram of the vagina… just in case you needed it.

This book is split into different categories, much like Bates’ book ‘Everyday Sexism.’ These range from ‘That’s Not Your Vagina’ to ‘Sluts, Unicorns, and Other Mythical Creatures’ and each and every one of them is accessible, humorous, and packed full of usual info and illustrations. Running throughout this book is the key message that women face so much pressure, criticism and sexism in their lives, and society gives them a rough deal.

But despite this, Bates doesn’t just moan and rant, she gives every chapter an uplifting tone, showing the success stories of many women throughout history, and arguing that, despite these pressures from society, women can be whatever they want to be, and should continue to break barriers.

Bates addresses many stereotypes and perceived ideas, both of men and women. She makes it clear that sex and porn are not the same thing, and she addresses the stereotypes of women as ‘slutty’, and the ideas surrounding women and sex. She also looks at the important subject of social media, considering the way in which it can be harmful to girls, and there is a general feeling throughout the book that Bates wants to exaggerate the message which is continually given to women, which is that they in themselves are not good enough. I think this is so sad, and she makes some really good points about this, and how it links to body positivity and accepting that images online are often tampered with.

As well as addressing important sexual and online stereotypes of women, and the impossible standards society sets for women in relationships, life and work, Bates also uses this book as a kind of ‘guide’ to young women. She explains basic anatomy, and provides factual information about subjects such as masturbation and STIs.

This is so important, as there can often be a stigma attached to these subjects, but Bates really spreads the message that there should be no shame regarding these topics, and she even offers advice on who to speak to if anyone is experiencing mental health issues, or needs to speak to someone about contraception, for example. I thought this was a brilliant idea, and this book was partly about spreading an uplifting message to young women, and partly a guide for young people about ‘sensitive’ or ‘taboo’ issues that their peers may not feel comfortable talking about. For any girl growing up in society, I would say this book is a must read!

I thought this book was brilliant. The messages of female strength, competence and power were so strong, and Bates spreads the idea that women should not feel like imposters in this ‘male’ world, but instead should feel that they are good enough in themselves, and they deserve every opportunity they get. She breaks barriers regarding sexual stereotypes, and the role of women in the media and adverts, presenting an alternative view to the ‘perfect’ woman created in the media and by society.

While Bates acknowledges the great problems in society, and her book looks at the ways in which women are disadvantaged, ignored and misunderstood, she focuses on this overall inspiring and uplifting message. As women we are good enough as we are. We face a lot of pressure about getting into relationships, living up to sexual stereotypes, and looking like the ‘perfect’ woman every single day. So much so that it can feel unbearable at times, especially when teamed with personal doubts and pressure. But we are strong, and we are good enough as we are, despite all these mixed messages we get from society.

Bates makes it clear that society is not always going to have faith in ourselves, so it’s important that we have faith in ourselves. And it’s important to support those around us. Feminism is about supporting other women, and furthering their goals when we can, to give more and more women the opportunities they need.

Overall, this book is packed full of important messages, funny pictures, and factual information, all of which are so valuable for a young girl growing up in society today. In fact, boys could also probably learn something from this book. It’s certainly very instructional.

Have you read any of Laura Bates’ books? Do you agree with the points I’ve made here? What do you think about the taboo issues discussed in this book?

Let me know in the comments, it would be great to discuss this with you 🙂

Happy reading x

Picture credits here

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