Friday, May 13, 2011

Getting the Pretty Back: Friendship, Family, and Finding the Perfect Lipstick by Molly Ringwald

Audio CD, 5 disks (6 hours)
Published May 1st 2010 by HarperAudio (first published April 16th 2010)
ISBN: 0061836710 (ISBN13: 9780061836718)
3 stars overall / 5 stars audio narration 

Goodreads Synopsis:

The iconic Molly Ringwald shares intimate stories and candid advice in this fun, stylish, and sexy girlfriend's guide to life.

To her millions of fans Molly Ringwald will forever be sixteen. As the endearing and witty star of the beloved John Hughes classics Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, and Pretty in Pink, Molly defined teenage angst, love, and heartbreak. While remembered eternally as the enviable high school princess Claire, or the shyly vulnerable Samantha, Molly is now a wife and mother, and just celebrated her fortieth birthday. Facing a completely new, angst-inducing time in her life, she is embracing being a woman, wife, mother of three, actress, and best friend with her trademark style, candor, and humor.

In this book Molly encourages every woman to become "the sexiest, funniest, smartest, best-dressed, and most confident woman that you can be" by sharing personal anecdotes and entertaining insights about the struggle to get through the murky milestones and identity issues that crop up long after prom ends. Whether she's discussing sex and beauty, personal style, travel and entertaining, motherhood, or friendship, Molly embodies the spirit of being fabulous at every age, and reminds us all that prettiness is a state of mind: it's "the part of you that knows what you really want, that takes risks."

Getting the Pretty Back is sure to charm women of all ages with its unforgettably personal, refreshingly outspoken take on life, love, and, of course, finding that perfect red lipstick. . . .

My Thoughts:
I was hoping this book would be more about Molly and less a self-help(ish) book, but ultimately that was not the case. She has lots of advice - some of it good, most of it ok, none of it great - and she sprinkled in some interesting anecdotes about her life, but overall this was less about her than about what she has learned now that she's a 40-something. Interestingly, not much different from what most other 40-somethings who are reasonably accomplished have learned, albeit in a more glamorous setting (and with more money).

What I liked most about this (audio) book is that she narrated it herself. As with most books that are personal stories, they are much richer for having the author relate the stories in his/her own voice, as that factor lends a uniquely intimate quality that any other narrator would be hard pressed to duplicate. There were certain anecdotes that held more poignancy for me because she was relating them personally...particularly the story of her grandmother's issues with food and weight, because it seemed evident that the eating disorders and the dysmorphic view of her body consumed her, and that her interactions with (and judgments) of others were borne out of her disproportional focus on food and body image as compared to the rest of her life.

I was somewhat gratified that she didn't seem to take the typical laissez-faire approach to parenting that so many Hollywood types seem to have. She is clearly devoted to her family, and she & her husband seem to have rules and guidelines that they enforce. Even more importantly (to me) is her dedication to making sure her daughters do not have a distorted image of what their bodies should be, and that they have a good relationship with food. I think this is one of the great gifts we as mothers can give our daughters - a healthy body image, a healthy (and guilt-free) relationship with food, and an understanding of how bodies come in all shapes and sizes, and what is right for one person is not necessarily right for everyone.

Here's what I didn't like:
She seemed a little over-confident that she was the go-to person for relationship advice, particularly given that any good sense she had seemed to fly out the window in certain of her relationships.

She had a very casual attitude about sex, and it made me wonder what she will teach her daughters when they reach the age where sex starts to become important. Her definition of playing hard to get (i.e. not giving it up on the first date) was to wait until the third, or maybe the fifth, date. Really? What about waiting until marriage? I know that is an unpopular concept with a lot of folks, but it's not a crazy idea.

I don't believe Molly is shallow, but she focused on so many surface issues (clothes, skin care, make up, shoes, handbags, hair, etc. etc.) that I wondered if she really truly got (even though she says it) that being pretty is much more about what is inside than what is outside. Some of the most physically unattractive people can be lovelier than the sexiest model when their beauty emanates from inside. In addition, one of the most important aspects of happiness, contentment, and true beauty was something she never really touched on...spirituality. To me you can't define beauty adequately without that element.

Overall, it was a reasonably entertaining read. Most of the "advice" she doles out is basic common sense, though there are a few goodies in there. I enjoyed her personal accounts more than the other stuff, and I'm glad I know a bit more about her.

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