Girls Will Be Girls by Emer O'Toole - Review
Girls Will Be Girls: Dressing Up, Playing Parts and Daring to Act by Emer O'Toole is an essential read! I was given it as a present from the lovely Anna and I read it almost exactly a year ago while in Italy. I have since gifted the book to friends of mine as I feel pretty strongly about everyone giving this book a go.
Gender stereotypes are everywhere still, Emer uses this book to explore how we perform our gender and how we conform to these norms through a mix of story telling, humour and academia. The book gives the reader the opportunity to take away something new through covering a wide range of topics from the gendered language we use around children in our family to beauty practices and body hair. I know from talking to others that have read this book that their main take away or the part they found most interesting differs to my own, this is because we all experience gender norms but in different ways throughout our lives. This book is thought provoking and I think we need our norms challenging.
Personally I found this book to be influential and an essential part of my growth as a feminist. It challenged some of the ideas I had and highlighted how ingrained gender norms and stereotypes are. I questioned a few things after reading this book, one of them was removal of body hair. I did a little experiment for myself. I grew my underarm hair after getting back from that trip to Italy and kept it for about 6 months. In that time I wanted to see how other reacted to me and I got quite a few stares in the summer months. I challenged myself a lot and actually took part in a lingerie photoshoot with my hairy underarms and still felt amazing with a fully grown pit haha. There is a video of me on the Figleaves Instagram page and I think I may be the only person they have posted with under arm hair! Don't worry, I'm not suggesting you grow your hair, you will probably take something else away. I'm pretty happy because I do now shave my under arms (generally) but I am way more relaxed. I used to panic if I'd forgotten and wouldn't take a layer off if I was hot in case anyone saw my unruly underarms. Now, I literally don't give a crap. I went to a wedding in a pretty dress and hairy underarms, I see that a small achievement.
This is an insightful, engaging and accessible book. I would highly recommend reading this book and then passing it on to a friend so more of us can join in with bending the rules of our learnt gender norms.