I was just casually flipping through The Girl Guide by Marawa Ibrahim because it had just plopped in my door. I was immediately drawn in by the colorful and funny illustrations and somehow ended up reading the whole book just like that.
The Girl Guide is a book for young girls full of candid advice and embarrassing anecdotes on confidence, growing up, dealing with changing bodies, tampons, parents and everything in between.
For the sake of transparency, I want to mention that I received this book to consider it for a review – but I have not been paid to write this, and I’ll only ever share my own, honest opinion.
The book’s subtitle is “50 lessons in learning to love your changing body”. And self-love – especially for young girls – is something the world desperately need. That’s why I’m such a big fan of this book. It’s not just a book about the physiological challenges that happens to your body during puberty. It’s also about social and psychological changes plus practical advice on how to deal with it all.
It’s not a long and text-heavy educational book. Instead it’s heartfelt, straight-talking advice from the big sister every girl deserves, coupled with amazing illustrations.
Marawa is not afraid to talk about vaginas – and sharing embarrassing stories about the 3 P’s: pee, poo and periods (which we probably all have a few of, right?… Too bad I don’t have time to share mine right now……).
She makes it feel normal to talk about, well, normal physiology without turning to absurd euphemisms and act like all that comes out of a woman’s body is glitter and flowers.
This is where knowledge is power. By learning and understanding what’s happening to your body, you can remove a lot of insecurities. She encourages curiosity rather than feeling ashamed of talking about this stuff.
(A little note here is that this book is aimed at cis-gendered girls’ biology only).
A problem many books written by adults for young people is that they quickly become patronising. Marawa, however, makes a good attempt at acknowledging that young people’s problems feel very real, and are real problems, while also trying to put things into perspective, saying you can get through this difficult situation. But I must confess I’m too old to be a real judge of that.
As someone who spends a lot of time working with health and fitness, I’m excited to see exercise and diets addressed in this book as well.
- Sharing how exercise is amazing for building confidence when you get over the hurdle of self-consciousness over your changing body and let yourself discover a sport you love.
- That healthy girls can still gain weight during puberty.
- How important it is to eat to fuel your body, and the danger of diets and eating disorders.
I am not the only girl who struggled with their confidence in their teens. Fighting to keep out the voice that says you should be prettier, smarter, funnier. The if onlys.
… if only I was skinnier.
… if only I had longer hair.
… If only I looked like her.
Marawa address these as well. How there isn’t one single way to be beautiful – what matters is confidence. Instead of spending so much time wanting to change yourself, look at all the good qualities you have and celebrate them instead.
This why I wish I read this book years ago. I’ve spent years being unhappy with my body, feeling like I wasn’t good enough.
Getting to know people like Marawa a few years back is what got me interested in the self-love movement, and opening my eyes to all the beauty that doesn’t fit society’s ideal. Building confidence and self-love is a process, and still something I’m working on.
So even if I’m technically too old for this book, I still learned something from reading it, and can still feel empowered by it.
When I was about to take a few pictures for this post, I went to put on make up and do my hair. Because that’s what’s expected (I guess?). But I realized it was unneccessary, and sort against the spirit of the book. I look just fine without make up, it’s just the confidence that’s sometimes lacking! (I’m work in progress).
In summary, this book is amazing.
Teaching young girls about feminism and body positivity? It’s impossible not to love!
You can get The Girl Guide by Marawa on Amazon – at the time of writing it’s on sale at 5.99 £ 🙂
What do you wish a big sister had told you when your body started changing?