22-year-old feminist, artist, and author, Florence Given, has gained major popularity, specifically in 2020. She has done tremendous work helping and educating people on feminist topics. Her work has been life-changing for people. In June 2020, she released her first book, Women Don’t Owe You Pretty. This book has helped thousands of people, transforming their mindset and attitude. In essence, waking us up to societal norms that should not have been normalised. I.e., regarding sexism and internalised misogyny. Women Don’t Owe You Pretty is a guide for self-love and raises awareness for your intuition, allowing you to be the best version of yourself you can be.
Florence Given writes about societal expectations through a feminist matter. What does this mean? It means she focuses on the patriarchal dominated system that dictates our society. With this, the attention of the male gaze has been amplified. Women Don’t Owe You Pretty looks closely at the small details of our daily lives as women that have been carried out through the normalisation of pleasing the male gaze.
“You are the love of your own life.”
“A new person is born in the moment you say to yourself, for the first time, ‘I deserve better.’”
This quote from Women Don’t Owe You Pretty presents the fact that you are the most important person in your life. Florence brings forth the idea of what surrounds us in our society and what we do to please others. Whether it is being afraid to hold people accountable for their actions towards you or putting other peoples’ needs before your own, it affects you negatively.
Not only are we presented with the idea of putting ourselves first, but the idea of not caring what people think or putting others on a pedestal is the step forth into self-love and self-care. Florence is a big advocate for self-love as she promotes it to her following and reassures everyone to acknowledge their worth, reminding everyone they mean so much.
This is where “You are the love of your own life” kicks into place. This section of the book is heavily important. Once we remind ourselves that life is too short to care about what others think, we open a world that is full of endless possibilities for us individuals.
A significant point Florence’s makes is that she does not have to undergo beauty and spa treatments to show herself self-love. She mentions the common marketing tactics towards women that they need beauty products to show self-care and self-love, this shows the expectations for women to look after their appearance while hiding it under the ‘self-care’ logo. Of course, many desire the use of face-masks, etc.; they are fun to use and can result in a calming and peaceful ambience, ideal for winding down. However, the issue lies in the expectation to exercise beauty practices. Florence highlights the importance of finding self-love from within and the power we have as individuals to find it.
‘You are not too much.’
A quote from one of her illustrations, “Maybe I’m ‘Too Much’, Maybe my abundance reminds you that you’re lacking”. We live in a society today that is heavily dependent on social media; in essence, all eyes are on us. With that, we feel as individuals a sense of pressure and, more than ever, to ‘fit in’ and be like everybody else. Florence’s powerful words highlight that one can never be too much for simply being themselves or expressing their extravagant, glowing personalities. In reality, we should be praised for our individuality and uniqueness, not put down for it.
She illustrates how each quality of yourself makes you, you. Your authentic self, as Florence puts it, is meaningful, and you are never too much. Unfortunately, society has taught many to be exactly like each other, causing others to be afraid not to follow trends, expectations, listen to certain music or wear certain clothes. Her book is a reminder that you don’t have to be who they want you to be. Florence herself has shared her experiences with being called ‘Too much’ from exes about her passion for feminism. Yet, Florence has changed thousands of lives, educating and helping them on their self-love and discovering journey. If she listened to people telling her she was ‘Too Much’, Women Don’t Owe You Pretty would not exist. Trust your intuition and do not listen to others who try to put you down.
The Need for Destigmatisation
As a society, we have been conditioned that is necessary for women to get rid of their bodily hair. Like it is frowned upon and shameful. Women have been led to believe by the patriarchy that it is completely normal that women have no hair under their arms, legs, etc. Therefore, making it an expectation for women. It is a way of illustrating that women most cohere to the “beauty” and perform feminine, not everyone wants this. It is important to give people the freedom to do what they please with their bodies, of any gender, whoever wants to wear make-up or do not want to shave their body hair can do as such, without the judgement of anyone.
As a society, we need to break down the walls of gender expectations ruled out for years that we think are normal and naturally cohere to. We need to stop expecting everyone to be exactly like each other and allow people to be who they are, not what you or society wants them to be.
In Chapter 2 of Women Don’t Owe You Pretty, Florence talks about “desirability politics”. This phrase “desirability politics” delves into internalised misogyny that is subconsciously in a woman’s mind. She highlights the significance of the damaging casual talk about women, judging them on their choice of presenting themselves. For example, the expectation of wearing make-up to be “presentable” or “desirable” inevitably telling women that they must present themselves as ‘feminine’ to be “desirable” to the male gaze. This point opens the discussion that each individual has a choice, whether they want to wear make-up or not, it is the decision they’re making for themselves, not anyone else.
‘The Floss Effect’
Florence has evidently helped so many people on their journey with self-love and feminism. Her teachings have resulted in many practising what she preaches in their daily lives, calling it “The Floss Effect”. I certainly have experienced the effects of “The Floss Effect”; Florence has been nothing but a positive force, awakening my inner feminist to be the best she can be.
Who Should Read it?
Everyone! This book is for anyone in the world. Women Don’t Owe You Pretty acknowledges self-worth from various angles and allows you to think and learn from your life experience as she shares her own. Florence’s book is the opportunity for a virtuous wakening that will enable you to become the best version of yourself that you can be. This book focuses on the importance of feminism and how it is necessary to be a feminist in today’s society. Although Women Don’t Owe You Pretty is marketed towards women, Florence encourages everyone to read it as it is an important read for everyone and allows others to hear and comprehend other perspectives. This book is a must-have.