In Grow Yourself Beautiful, Sharon Caldwell Peddie aims to empower young readers and steer them from unhealthy expectations that can, at best, cause frustration and, at worst, trigger dangerous self-esteem issues that can lead to depression and other serious problems.
Peddie, mother of three daughters and longtime advocate for young women through Girl Scouts and other activities, clearly “gets” the struggles this population faces. Her solid, empathic statements—“I know fitting in with other girls is how you measure your social success,” and “I know the world aggressively tells you who you’re supposed to be and it leaves you feeling like you’re not enough” —neither dismiss nor condescend.
Structured using letters from the word “Beautiful,” from “B is for Being Kind” to “L is for Love,” the book covers a gamut of social, emotional and physical issues pertinent to this age group. “Never become the bully’s weak or devoted follower,” writes Peddie. “Perfection doesn’t exist, and it’s not supposed to.” The list of healthy things to do instead of using a cellphone is especially timely and relatable, as is the section that begins “You’ll be okay if …,” for instance, “your best friend finds a new one.”
Thanks to Peddie’s comforting tone, this book serves as one big motherly pep talk. As such, it’s filled with reassurances. One wishes, though, that Peddie had offered more concrete advice. For example, she tells readers that if a friend hurts them, it’s OK to feel sad at first. Then “get up and empower yourself to stay strong…Don’t dull your sparkle. Don’t dim your light. Don’t hide your confidence…” Fine words, but without breaking this down into action steps, they are mere platitudes. The book also suffers from repetition that requires solid editing.
Still, Grow Yourself Beautiful offers deepening reflections and wisdom as it goes, and worksheets with questions at book’s end will prompt helpful introspection. Although written for young adults, Peddie’s book might inadvertently give frazzled moms a well-deserved pep talk, too.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.