Judgemental Self-Help Books Are The Worst

For almost a year now, I’ve been reading Nice Girls (Still) Don’t Get The Corner Office.

I found the book years ago when trying to find my friend Jenny a birthday present. Books are the best presents as they can transport you to other worlds, lift you up, make you a better person. And as Jenny was the type of young 20-something that seems to be going places, I thought it was the perfect book for her.

Cue me, at 30, wondering how on earth I can go the person I am today to the person I want to be.

I downloaded the book.

Firstly, this book doesn’t work so well on the Kindle. At the start, it has a little survey, and depending on the answers, you have to read certain sections of the book. But as you can’t really flick back and forth on a Kindle, I found myself reading through most of it.

The book is sectioned in chapters called things like “How you act”, “How you sound” and “How you look”, within which each page has a “mistake” that women make in the workplace.

I found some advice to be quite useful. For example, there’s a section on how women work without a break and try to be martyrs. Having read this, I realised that this is something I do and so, combined with the message I was reading (at the same time) from The Glass Wall, I made the decision to do much less overtime.

There’s also great advice on how women wait to be given what they want while men might articulate this much better and then receive that thing as they’ve been clear with their aims. Again, following this, I stopped thinking that people are mind-readers and started telling my boss clearly the progression aims I have within the company.

The things I found most useful were under the section “How you play the game”, but once you move on, the book gets into this icky judgemental narrative that sounds like a business guide from the 50s. For example, in “How you look”, there are “mistakes” involving body ink, smiling, tilting your head, makeup, having your hair too long and wearing the wrong kind of clothing.

The author had updated this book in 2016 (adding the “still”), including many more “mistakes” she had come across in women since she first wrote the book. What she failed to do was take into account the wide variety of workplaces that we have now. Some may be the kind where you have to wear heels of a certain height, a pencil skirt, modest makeup and a french twist in your hair. But many of us work in places where having long hair doesn’t hold you back – and to suggest such a thing is just laughable.

A good self help book should make you want to take notes, make you want to take action right away to make yourself a better person. This book make me self-conscious of every part of my being. It made me feel like a complete failure for being 30 and having longer hair. For wearing eyeshadow.

While I took some good tips away from this, it was essentially a really long waste of time reading it; and I’m sure those good tips could have been found in other, much better packaged books.

What have you been reading recently? I’d ask for recommendations but my book list is SO LONG!!

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