Who is Kaz Cooke and why haven't I heard of her? Cooke is another creative artist from down under. The Australian writer, cartoonist, filmmaker and columnist has a slew of works to her name. She is the creator of Hermoine, the Modern Girl, a colourful caricature who's also featured between the pages of Real Gorgeous.
Real Gorgeous is about body shapes, body parts, exercise, plastic surgery, fashion, dieting, advertising, modelling, eating disorders, responding to the body police and so much more. Yes, it's a women's book but it is often directed toward girls too. It touches on so many topics relating to the body and beauty; providing some research, some quotes and some of the authors own opinions. Each chapter has suggestions for further reading.
Real Gorgeous isn't a fat book but a body image book. Anyone is sure to find at least one of the anecdotes in the shadow boxes, placed throughout each chapter, to relate to. If there's one thing, this book shows it's that body image issues are more of a global issue than just within our group of friends. Canadians, Australians, and Americans are all dealing with similar issues regarding body image. Body image issues are also not delegated to one body type. Fat people don't have the monopoly on bad body image.
It acknowledges the impact of family, friends, media and self perception on body image. Cooke exposes the fashion and diet industry for what they are… People "trying to sell you something." She is quick to point out all the money we spend needlessly and what we're really getting for it. A real eye opener.
Cooke summarizes a lot of points from others work to back up what she's saying. Not a page goes by without a quote from someone else. Many relevant quotes from Penelope Goward appear. One in particular that rings a bell, "Accept and like yourself for who you are. Stop postponing your life until you are an acceptable shape and size." There are quite a few anonymous quotes like, "a New York make-up artist says…" which I found irritating and at times caused me to question their validity.
Sometimes it seems Cooke is checking to see if the reader is paying attention and will stick in nonsense comments, like during a listing of healthy eating she added, "Don't stick popcorn up your nose." Silly but unexpected and funny none the less.
There's an excellent section called Body Image Boosters the reader can return to again and again for ideas on how to give yourself a break from your own negativity. One of my favourite sections is what to say to the "Body Police". You know those people who never really have anything nice to say to you or who offer a compliment with a negative tag on the end.
Real Gorgeous is an informative, light read with many sections for the stop and start reader. It provides an alternative look at the body and beauty from a personal perspective and that of others. An excellent book to have around.
W.W. Norton & Company, 1996
Purchase Real Gorgeous at Amazon.com.
Purchase Real Gorgeous at Amazon.ca.