by Laura Jane Davis
Florence Given’s Book “Women don’t owe you pretty” certainly lives up to the expectation of “The game-changing book that every woman needs”. Florence has a way of highlighting the conversations that many deem ‘too controversial’ and provides valuable education on how to challenge the patriarchal society we live in. As promised it hit me with some BIG truth bombs, it opened my eyes to so much more than I could have anticipated and inspired me to create change in my world.
This book is full of so much goodness but there are some real key takeaways that I wanted to share with you. There is an internal Misogynist living within me. If you're interested in Florence Givens book I’m going to assume you know about misogyny, it's very easy for us to identify misogyny in our external world but how often do we sit and think about how that may have internalised itself within us? Misogyny is described as “hatred, distrust or dislike of women” and when you take some time to sit with that, there are some very common situations that Florence reminds us of.
There are many situations where those who identify as women actually display these behaviours towards each other. She raises the point that "Flaws" are actually man-made (emphasis on the ‘man’). How we are so conditioned to focus on our flaws as women and how we fit the beauty standards of society; that we begin to find comfort in other women's ‘flaws’. Florence provides some examples of how internalised misogyny presents itself such as how we label strong women who have firm boundaries as ‘Bitchy’ or ‘Intimidating’. How we shame women who express their sexual needs freely and without shame. How we so often, try to tear down the successful women with the all familiar phrase “Who does she think she is”.
"Self-Care is more than a face mask"
There are so many examples in the book and I won’t ruin it for you. After realising that I may not be challenging the patriarchy as I had first thought, I began to try and identify these behaviours within myself by really listening to my language when I spoke about other women. If we can eliminate the shaming of women amongst ourselves and remove the internalised misogyny that’s so deeply embedded in our behaviour towards each other. Then we can truly come together, empowered and ready to create change. It's no small feat, we have been conditioned to judge each other, to criticise each other, it's what keeps the oppression alive but a very good place to start is with this book.
Self-Care is more than a face mask. I truly believed I was the queen of self-care before I read this book. I thought my self-care routine was on point. Florence opened my eyes to all the ‘Self-Care’ I was doing, that I didn't even realise was the true expression of ‘Self Love’. We are marketed to indulge in a face mask, a bath bomb and a pedicure, which to be honest really do feel like self-care for me. But how often are we encouraged to indulge in the self-care that doesn’t make someone else rich, that at its core is truly all about the ‘Self’. Like taking yourself out for lunch on your own, setting boundaries that feel so uncomfortable you nearly don’t set them; going to therapy to heal the trauma you could quite easily numb from with a retail therapy session labelled as ‘self-care’.
Florence explains self-love in its truest form as kind of ‘ugly’, when I think about my biggest acts of self-love for myself; I firmly agree with Florence. Most of the things I have done in the past few years to commit to myself and honour my needs, have been really tough and involved A LOT of crying in the shower. After reading Florence’s words, I realised that the acts of self-care that really made an impact in my life were not the times I treated myself to a facial but when I put myself first, when I made my needs my priority. I learnt through Florence’s words that it's okay if having a bath and a face mask feels like self-care, it's okay if some days that's what I need to show myself some love. It's also an act of self-love for me to say no when I usually say yes, when I attended therapy for 6 months, when I choose my needs over everyone else's.
"This book is a toolkit for us to refer to, so we can all work together to normalise accepting the very best; opposed to accepting crumbs."
Self-care is not about what you have been told is an act of self-care, it's what makes you feel good. It's what makes you feel connected to yourself and what empowers you; to live your life in your truest most empowered form. I can love myself like nobody else ever can. Florence describes “One of the most radical acts under capitalism is to simply love yourself”. If we can begin to love and accept ourselves regardless of the beauty standards set for us, then how can they continue to exist? If we refuse to assume that everyone who expresses deep love for themselves is arrogant, self-centred and selfish.
We can instead begin to heal ourselves so we don’t project our dislike for ourselves onto those that live with acceptance and love for themselves. We are living in a world, that in Florence’s words “Profits from our insecurities”, that encourages women to ‘settle down’ and often this can lead us into relationships that are no good for us. The most immense change we can create in our world is to choose ourselves, to set our own ideals and to understand what matters most to ourselves. She reminds us to “Stop settling for crumbs, you deserve the whole damn cake”, describing the ‘Crumbs’ as the acts that we accept as love because our low self-esteem makes us feel that is all we are worthy of. She encourages you to stop allowing people in your life who offer you these crumbs because “crumb can’t feed you”. This book is a toolkit for us to refer to, so we can all work together to normalise accepting the very best; opposed to accepting crumbs.
"This book is a must for anyone who wants to empower themselves and understand just how to do that"
This book made me realise that all the ways I have loved myself over the last few years have been the most empowering and impactful moments of my life. Choosing to go to therapy, expressing my needs and desires without fear of failure creeping in. Most of all loving myself enough to stop accepting those crumbs because I deserve the whole cake, and so do you. I still have a lot to learn and I’m ready. Mostly this book made me realise, I still have a lot to learn and that’s not a bathing. It will take me time to unlearn and to challenge the norms that have driven my behaviour for the first 27 years of my life. That’s how growth works, challenging yourself, your beliefs and opening yourself up to the fact; that you may not know it all.
Florence has you educated on the privileges that you should check yourself on, with a list in the book that opened my eyes to how privileged I am. I realised that in order for me to grow and create change, I need to be open to learning. To follow people on my social media that open me up to education. To educate myself on how my voice can be used, how can I create change within myself first. This book is a must for anyone who wants to empower themselves and understand just how to do that. Florence has provided us with a relatable and as promised a book filled of truth bombs that every woman needs to hear.
Written by Laura Jane Davis (07/12/20)