‘Learning to Love the Girl in the Mirror: A Teenage Girl’s Guide to Living a Happy and Healthy Life’ was written by Helena Donald, and when I was contacted asking if I wanted to read and review this empowering and inspirational book, I jumped at the chance.
Helena is in her early twenties and wrote this book for teenage girls after suffering from bulimia and issues with her body confidence and eating. She discusses the honest truth surrounding fad diets, pressure from the media and self criticism in a way a younger teenager will comprehend. In other words, this is a book I should have read when I was 13.
Growing up, it was a fashionable lifestyle choice amongst young girls to diet and restrict food groups like carbs and sugars. It implied you were organised or ‘healthy’. I know that I grew up hating myself for eating certain things – Pizza, chocolate etc. Helena discusses why we should enjoy food; it nourishes our body, to a certain extent it makes us happy and it’s essential to feed yourself.
My favourite, and most relatable part of the book, was when Helena introduced us to Little Miss Critical – the horrible voice that lowers your self-esteem in order to protect you from being mocked. Obviously, this only creates self loathing and it is something I struggle with massively. Helena encourages readers to actively and physically tell LMC to stop, and makes a point of how much we need to point out our positives.
I adopted Helena’s advice by telling myself what I liked about my body every morning stood in the mirror. At first, I couldn’t find anything, I felt like I was clutching at straws. My hair looked ok? I kinda liked my new t-shirt. I really tried to make a go of it because I’d love to appreciate my body.
Each day I tried to find a new thing I liked about myself: my freckles, the chub on my hips where my thighs and stomach, my legs are strong and put up with a lot of walking/bad dancing – it’s my body and it does a lot for me.
My hair had a few natural curls amongst the other bits of straw-like, bleached rats tails. Usually, I’d think ‘ugh why can’t my hair be consistent, why can’t it all be one style’ – instead I tried to appreciate how cute the odd natural curls were. Instead of wishing, I was slim, I pointed out the flabby bits of me that are actually pretty darn adorable.
It worked. I still feel insecure and uncomfortable in myself sometimes but I think that is a part of life. Now when I look in the mirror I immediately try to go for the positives because it’s now a habit. That was the biggest chance I found from reading this book and honestly if you know any pre-teen/teen girls, this is the perfect gift and every girl should read it.