I was very happy to receive my review copy of Beautiful Girl in the mail the other day. It is such a cheery and pretty book, with a clear and skilfully told message that is particularly needed today. Despite all the work done in the 20th century to improve opportunities for women, girls are at increasing risk of pathologically low self-worth along with confusion and rage, with accompanying dangerous self-harming disorders such as anorexia and cutting. As Steve Biddulph writes in Raising Girls: “There has been a sudden and universal deterioration in girls’ mental health, starting in primary school and devastating the teen years.”

The current portrayal of women and girls in the media is catastrophic for growing girls, giving them a bizarre mishmash of instructions and the notion that all women should be desperately seeking an unattainable goal of physical perfection. The damage begins very early: even very young children watch tv and surf the internet, taking in these messages from toddlerhood. Hence, Beautiful Girl, a gorgeous book for girls ages 2-6, designed to give a clear message that it is in our individuality that our beauty resides, and that we are all perfect just as we are.

Beautiful Girl is cheerfully and colourfully illustrated, and is a great manual on how to relate to your body growing up. “Treat it gently and make sure others treat it gently too….. This is your precious body — trust your feelings!” The book sensitively broaches future changes: “Your body will enjoy all sorts of good feelings, and as you get older they will get stronger. This is just nature’s way of telling you that you are growing up. Over time things about you will start to change.” Northrup subtly introduces intuition and the soul: “You have a special strength inside of you. It is there to help with all of the important things you will need to do in your life”, and ends with a crucial life skill that children need to see modelled on a daily basis and be told often, in order to establish healthy habits: “Take care of your precious body and it will take care of you.”

Beautiful Girl: Celebrating the Wonders of Your Body is written by Christiane Northrup with Kristina Tracy, and illustrated by Aurélie Blanz. It is published by Hay House and retails for $14.95 in the US and Canada, and £9.99 in the UK. Highly recommended for all beautiful girls!

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