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Mental Health

Top 4 Self-Help Books For Women Who Hate Reading

Reading books cover to cover has always been something I want to do more of, but never make time for in my schedule. After having to read countless novels and textbooks for my classes, the last thing I want to do in my free time is read more books. During quarantine at the beginning of March, I found myself looking for ways to improve mentally and prepare for my aspiring career in the fashion industry. Surprisingly, I turned to self-help books. Whether it’s your constant need to please others, the uncertainty of your life and career or the feeling that you have no idea what you’re doing, these self-help books will offer you a new perspective. Here are my top four suggestions for girls who hate making the time to read, but want to be inspired:

Women Don’t Owe You Pretty by Florence Given

Out of all of these books, Women Don’t Owe You Pretty is the book I wish I had read when I was sixteen. The author, Florence Given, creates bada$$ illustrations and posts them on her Instagram, which is what led me to purchase this book. Given reminds women that they do not owe the world anything, especially a certain physical appearance. She talks a lot about the male gaze theory, objectification of women, how women internalize this and hold themselves to standards of beauty, and how she discovered and embraces her queerness as a bisexual woman, something I have been coming to terms with myself. One of my favorite illustrations of hers presents the question, “How much of my femininity is who I truly am, and how much of it is a product of patriarchal brainwashing to exist for male consumption?” This really made me think about who I am as a woman and why I do some of the things I do. I am usually not one to highlight and take notes while reading, but with this book, it was an absolute must — not to mention the amazing illustrations and colors throughout the book keep the reader engaged. I truly think this book changed my life as a woman for the better. No matter how called out and uncomfortable I felt at times, I knew she was writing the cold hard truth. This book forces you to reevaluate how you live your life as a woman and to demand a new level of love for yourself. I wish I could require all men to read this book, as I think they could learn a lot from it. If you choose any one book to read off of this list, read Women Don’t Owe You Pretty.

More Than Enough: Claiming Space for Who You Are (No Matter What They Say) by Elaine Welteroth

While searching for a book to get more insight into the fashion industry, I stumbled upon More Than Enough and I was not disappointed. This book put a lot of things into perspective for me. Some I already knew, like being a woman in the workplace and the #MeToo movement, but others like the struggles minorities face when trying to move up in the fashion industry stunned me. It opened my eyes to the fact that no industry is perfect and we all need to be a part of the change we want to see. This book offers so much more than just some vague advice and meaningless anecdotes. Welteroth is honest about topics like self-love, burnout, codependency and everything in between. Her words make you feel as if you are speaking to an old friend, making the book a quick and easy read. One of my favorite quotes in the book that made me choke up (it was just a couple of tears, okay?) was: “We don’t prioritize our time with ourselves. We rarely set aside moments to be still, to access our center. And the bottom line is, when we don’t focus on our inner light, it dims.” As someone who struggles with prioritizing herself, this spoke to me. Overall, this book was filled with many life lessons and inspired me to be courageous and to speak up for myself and for what I believe in. More Than Enough is the perfect read for a young woman starting her career.  

Girl, Stop Apologizing by Rachel Hollis

As humans, we tend to make a million excuses for why we can’t reach our goals. Rachel Hollis uses her book Girl, Stop Apologizing to shut down every single one. I highly recommend this book if you’re someone with big dreams but have no idea where to start or if you’re someone in constant doubt of your capabilities. One of my many flaws is that I like to see immediate progress, and in almost every situation, that is not realistic. Hollis taught me that making progress on your goals is sometimes slow and gradual, but that doesn’t mean you should give up before reaching the end. Since I read this book, I have been a lot more intentional when making goals and have tried not to bite off more than I can chew. If you are a people pleaser or someone who tends to care too much about the opinions of others, this book is for you. This book taught me never to shrink myself down in order to fit into spaces and to stop apologizing for knowing what I deserve. Girls, stop apologizing, chase your goals and never give up — even if it’s hard. Definitely a must-read!

Making It in Manhattan: The Beginner’s Guide to Surviving & Thriving in the World of Fashion by Caroline Vazzana

Last on my list is a book I just recently bought and started reading called Making It in Manhattan. Surprisingly, I came across this book through a TikTok advertising a Zoom call that would give attendees a look into the world of fashion. The call consisted of many outstanding and successful women, one being the author, Caroline Vazzana. Vazzana is the modern-day Carrie Bradshaw and her passion for her work as a fashion editor and stylist is very clear. After listening to what Vazzana had to say about her experience and advice breaking into the industry, one of the biggest takeaways that I desperately needed to hear is to stop caring about what others think of you and the right people will come your way. After the call, I knew I needed to get her book immediately. Vazzana gives great advice for those who aspire to work in fashion and this book addresses the importance of being yourself, networking both on and off social media and dressing to impress.  Most importantly, she emphasizes that you have to take risks. For anyone interested in fashion, you need this book. It keeps you easily engaged and makes working in the fashion industry seem more like a reality than just a young girl’s fantasy.

Be sure to check out Caroline Vazzana’s Instagram and TikTok (@cvazzana) for a behind the scenes look into her life in fashion and the most fabulous OOTDs!

At the end of the day, it’s never a bad time to learn more about yourself and feel empowered. Self-help books can go a long way towards giving you a new perspective and outlook on life. Even though reading isn’t my favorite pastime, I loved these four books. 

Samantha Casolaro

Chapel Hill '22

Samantha Casolaro is a junior at UNC, majoring in Advertising and Public Relations aspiring to work in the fashion and beauty industry. She loves to spend quality time with friends, binge watch TikToks dedicated to fashion and Harry Styles, and listen to Miley Cyrus’s cover of “Heart of Glass” on repeat.
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