Reading Backwards

Book reviews by your favorite Git.

Beautylicious!: The Black Girl’s Guide to the Fabulous Life

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By Jenyne M Raines
Read: May 2008
Rating: Appalling.

Somehow this book wound up in the teen section of the public library. Keep it away from your impressionable young women.

The advice is not black-specific, it’s very general and you could find most of it in a myriad of similar titles. The most ‘black’ thing about it is the slang liberally sprinkled throughout.

This book assumes that the reader has a LARGE expendable income, loves designer labels, shops, drinks, and is concerned with image, image, image. It’s a confusing mix–sure, it preaches that you learn to become comfortable with your body… then advocates the wearing of real fur and makes PETA sound like a bunch of loonies you don’t really need to listen to. At all. Because every glam woman has her Team Me–Team Me consists of everyone from your hair stylist to your dentist to your furrier. (No one has furriers anymore. Not even WASPs.)

The book is wholly superficial and morally bankrupt. On page 22, Ms. Raines details the Twinkie Theorem. Essentially, you can always find money–not for what you need, but for what you WANT. Like a Twinkie: just search the couch cushions. Or a Louis Vuitton bag! “A bit of credit left on the charge card and couple of dollars (all right, hundreds) from the rent money.” The Twinkie Theorem advocates skimping on rent and putting yourself in credit card debt for a luxury item! Then it backs it up with a quote from the Bible.

The cover may look cute, but don’t make the same mistake as our library–this is NOT for young girls. The book does not include lessons on safe sex or making good choices in choosing who to become intimate with–just bring a condom. That’s it.

For a young woman, get The College Woman’s Handbook (Educating Ourselves)

For more biting commentary, look below the cut.

My friend and I were at the Princeton Public Library hanging out in the teen section when we found this book on display. It is not for teens. I feel sick when I imagine someone buying this for their niece. Don’t do it.

We flipped through it in disbelief, and a light-hearted poke at a bad book became really disturbing. This is all about materialism, spa trips, labels (Why NOT fly to Paris and get your Vuitton bag for less?!), and other stupid things. That’s not fabulous, that’s consumerism.

It’s not good feminism. Yes, you should feel comfortable enough with your body that you can look at yourself naked. But don’t then turn around and act like everyone is wearing real fur, has a furrier for fuck’s sake, and not wearing fur means you can never eat meat again.

Find categories for this review is tough–I keep wanting to list this under SHEER FANTASY or Sci Fi As Hell or, how about–Blaxploitation? This book isn’t made for black girls to help them get down with their inner goddess. This is a cheap shot at stuffing an already craptastic concept–the Young Woman’s Guide To Hip–into a growing market. I learned today that this niche has a name:

BAP: Black American Princess.

Folks, it’s an insult to be a JAP. WHY are you trying to turn this into a good thing?! It’s NEVER good to be a spoiled ‘princess.’ Princesses feel entitled to luxury, have no work ethic, and a vague moral code. This is not something to aspire to, and we don’t need to ruin that small but growing niche market–young black women raised in middle and upper class homes who have a real shot at continuing to better themselves. It’s like taking McDonalds to Russia and saying “Look at the shiny new restaurant! You don’t really want to learn advanced physics or those silly computers–you want jeans and french fries! Theeere ya go…” It hurts the cause.

As a woman and a feminist, I am outraged. As a white woman, I am appalled. This is the message my race’s bullshit is putting out? Be a princess! Get Louis Vuitton! Shame on you, Ms. Raines, for cashing in.

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Written by Shen

May 21, 2008 at 10:05 pm

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