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lip lit: cynthia m bulik, the woman in the mirror

The Woman in the Mirror: How to stop confusing what you look like with who you are by Cynthia M Bulik is essential reading for any woman or young girl who isn’t satisfied with her appearance. If you feel the need to check out your reflection throughout the day, if you feel intimidated by other women because of the way they look, if you have problems eating without counting your calories or if you are raising a daughter of your own, then there are many things that you can gain from this book. I’ll admit, I was dubious when I started but I emerged at the end with a few tips and tricks up my sleeve. I’d love to share but then you wouldn’t be motivated to read it for yourself – and that is precisely what I recommend you do.

Divided into two parts, the novel catalogues all stages of life and what can happen during those stages to change how women perceive themselves. In this way, not all parts of the book will be useful to you, but the sections about women who are older can provide valuable advice for the future while also teaching compassion where you might not have previously seen the need. There are also specific sections on young girls and advice for parents when it comes to saying the right things to encourage a healthy body attitude in daughters. That is essentially what the first part is about.

The second part is focused on changing your current patterns. This is where you are taught how to change how you think about yourself and how to implement this change gradually. This book teaches that you don’t need counseling or a life coach – although these things may help in specific circumstances – and that you can improve your self-esteem on your own.

As I was reviewing this book rather than picking it up out of a recognised need, I didn’t think that I would learn much. However, through mentally filling out the included tables and charts that are interspersed between the pages, I discovered that there were a few things that I could change. This book was helpful to someone who didn’t even know she needed help – I’m not sure whether that says more about the talent of the author or the current proliferation of body image issues in society, but either way it’s a reason to give it a go.

My only criticism of the book would have to be that it was quite repetitive in parts. This is only because Bulik is trying to drive her message home, but it was still painful to read at times.

This isn’t the sort of book to power through and read in one sitting either. It is one you can keep on your bedside table and read a few pages of each night. Working through it slowly is actually a good thing as it helps you to stay on track with the tasks the book promotes.

Perhaps my favourite page in this book was towards the end when Bulik is giving advice to parents raising daughters. She recommends telling your daughter to have a watermelon skin rather than a banana skin. The logic behind this is that banana skins are permanently marked and internally damaged by any knock or bump along the road while watermelons have a thick, impenetrable exterior preserving wonderful fruit within no matter what happens. It basically refers to not letting others thoughts about your appearance affect how you think about yourself. It’s an exceptionally hard task and a lot of us will struggle with it at one point or another. I just loved the analogy, (maybe because the mental image of little banana and watermelon skinned people was amusing) but also because I can see how easily it would make sense to kids.

Overall, Bulik delivered a pretty helpful novel. It’s the first self help book that I’ve ever read and perhaps because of the ordered and sensible way that it was delivered, it might not be the last.

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