Book Review: You’d Be So Pretty If … 

bookcoverI don’t have a daughter — let alone a pre-teen daughter– yet. But if I did, you can bet I’d be reading Dara Chadwick’s You’d Be So Pretty If .

In fact, I’ll make sure to keep my copy on hand for when the time comes, because I believe it will come in handy.

In a quick synopsis, it’s a book that explores body image and the critical relationship between mothers and daughters — particularly during the tricky pre-teen years — and how our behaviors and how we carry ourselves as women is passed on to our daughters.

A fast-moving book, it reads as part memoir and part how-to-guide.

Chadwick explores the challenges she faced undergoing her transformation as SHAPE magazine’s Weight Loss Diarist in 2007. Losing the weight wasn’t the most challenging part for her; there were emotional challenges that surpassed the actual physical loss.

Dara_Chadwick_headshot_DaCapoFirst, Chadwick had experienced anorexia in her teenage years, and certainly didn’t want to resort back to those unhealthy disordered behaviors.

But on top of that concern, she had a captive audience: a pre-teen daughter, who was naturally paying attention to her endeavor.

Naturally, she didn’t want to send the wrong message about why she was losing weight … or give the idea that she wasn’t good enough as she was and had to lose weight to be happy.

It’s something Chadwick brings up throughout the book: finding that delicate balance — whether it’s you (the mom) or your daughter struggling with her weight.

I’d say one of the most important things Chadwick expresses in this book is that we, as women, lay the blueprint for how our daughters view themselves.

She reminds us that we have the ability to empower them … or cut them down with a few mere words.

Having a mom (like my own) show us how to dress for our shape can be super-empowering and a real confidence boost.

But hearing “Are you really going out in that?” can be just as harmful as a disapproving look or hearing “I think you’d look better in a different size,” to a teenage girl.

Chadwick notes that even if we don’t love and adore every inch of ourselves, we need to adopt the “fake it til you make it” attitude for the sake of our daughters.

While it might sound obvious that we influence our daughters, think of all the times you’ve heard a grown woman bemoaning the size of her thighs or justifying why she can eat dessert tonight (just tonight, tomorrow she goes “back on a diet”) in front of her daughter. Perhaps you’ve even done it yourself, or heard someone else do it.

Our daughters hear things like this, and it shapes how they believe women should look or act or feel about themselves.

The bottom line: even if we don’t adore ourselves completely, self-flaggellance helps no one, least of all our daughters.

At the end of each chapter, Chadwick offers a one-page summary of bullets that I found super-helpful, on a wide range of topics about body image, self-esteem, eating disorders, healthy eating/exercising, etc.

This is the kind of book I strongly recommend new moms, moms of young girls, or even mothers-to-be read. Chadwick is right — once our heads are in the right place — once we can see ourselves for who we are and not just our image we share with the outside world — we’ll be better-equipped to handle our daughters’ challenges.

A special thanks to Lindsey, from Dara’s publishing company, for giving me my copy to review as well as the copy YogiClareBear won!

I also want to share a recent blog post Dara did, called “An Unlikely Body Image Hero”.

The lyrics of the song she shares by Jonny Diaz are truly beautiful, regardless of one’s faith. Take a look — I think it’s the perfect culmination to a review of Dara’s book, and I hope you agree.

I’ve asked Dara to do a Q&A here, and wanted to make this as interactive/participatory as possible. So please e-mail me your questions by Monday, June 29. You can email me here.

How about you? Have you read You’d Be So Pretty If … Have you ever been told those loaded words?

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10 thoughts on “Book Review: You’d Be So Pretty If … 

  1. Thank you so much for this book review! My sister struggled with anorexia in college and now has a 5 year old daughter. It is a CONSTANT fear of hers that her daughter will develop an eating disorder or struggle with her body image as my sister and I have. I really want to recommend this book to her.

  2. I don’t have a daughter but I do recall comments my mom made to me as a teenager about my weight and I know they had a big impact on my body image and eventually an ED. I know she didn’t do it out of meanness, she truly thought she was acting in my best interest and out of love as I am sure many mothers who make comments to their daughters about weight think. Sounds like this book is a great step in educating women with daugthers about raising women with healthy body image and self-esteem. Now if we could only get the magazines and fashion world to get away from the stick thin images.

  3. Lara, it’s def. that kind of book!!

    And I, too, wish they’d stray from stick-thin images. It just perpetuates the vicious cycle.

  4. Hi Lissa!

    My doctor actually recommended this book to me, although I haven’t had time to check it out. Now that I know it’s a must-read, I’ll be making another trip to Borders. I love reading + I’m learning to love recovery, so naturally = I’ll LOVE this book! Thanks for the review, Lissa. Your blog always introduces me to the most GORGEOUS, new ideas.

    Have a boootiful day,
    Egg Beaten Angel

    P.S. Go cheer Melissa on on my blog (http://imstillfighting.blogspot.com/2009/06/tales-of-bumpy-ride.html) 😀

  5. Hi there and thanks again for that opportunity, Angel! I love that your doctor recommended this book too – it’s an easy read and a good one! Congrats!

  6. This book sounds great, I’d love to check it out.

    When I was in college I had a friend who was being pursued by some girl- the girl was very small, cute but he didn’t like her personality. He said something one day to the effect of “if she was like you it’d be great.” While it’s nice that he liked my personality, it really hurt that I wasn’t enough for him as I was.

  7. Jill, stuff like that upsets me so much … we are good enough as we are, and it’s comments like that that really can make or break a girl’s ego/sense of self. 😦 BOOOOO to that guy!!! He missed out!

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