Book Review: Damage Control


I fell in love with Emma Forrest's writing about a decade ago after reading her début novel, Namedropper. Her fictional books all feature messed-up, imperfect women trying to navigate life and all have some underlying theme around beauty. Viva idolises glamorous silver-screen actresses in Namedropper, Ruby deals with the mental pressures of being a pretty former child star in Thin Skin, and in Cherries in the Snow (named after the iconic Revlon lipstick shade) Sadie is employed by a Riot Grrrl make-up company to name their products.

Damage Control, edited by Emma Forrest, is a collection of essays from female writers, actors and comedians and the women who work on their bodies. The theme is one that really resonates with me; the focus of the collection is the deeper connections we have with the rituals of beautifying ourselves. The essays cover a variety of different people we pay to care for us - hairdressers, therapists, personal trainers, tattoo artists, masseuses, nail technicians and a whole range of others. Each story is a perfect example of how complex our relationships are with these experiences and these people.

Minnie Driver's contribution, for example, is the story of a French hairdresser who gave her a terrible haircut and then helped her learn to accept her curly hair. Maysan Hadar discusses the beauty rituals that take place privately amongst veiled women, an anonymous strip club make-up artist writes about the very human insecurities and emotions behind the naked bodies on the stage, and Forrest's own contribution is an account of the time she got a tattoo after a break-up then developed a fixation on the artist.

Some of the stories are sad, some are funny, and the book touches on some serious and difficult topics, but it still manages to be an uplifting read. It's interesting to consider how much our personal history is interlinked with the services we pay for and the things we do to our bodies, and the women in this collection do a really great job of articulating those things.

I always want to thrust this book at anyone who starts on that tiresome rant about how beauty is silly and that there are more important things to think about. Our feelings about our own bodies, our desire to be touched, our childhood memories, our self-care habits, our romantic lives, our careers and our lifestyles can all in some way be linked to beauty, and it shouldn't be so readily dismissed as just preening.


I'd recommend Damage Control to anyone, regardless of the reader's interest in beauty. At the heart of it, this book just a really well written collection of essays on the good parts, the bad parts and the completely neurotic parts of being human.


"Incredibly, for a book about beauty, our pages cover heart-break, divorce, cutting, virginity, body dysmorphia, sexual abuse, and parental suicide. If the essays that emerged were not what I was expecting, the authors probably weren't expecting them either. Truth is an unpredictable trigger. You start thinking about your body and your body becomes a kind of detached witness. Memory monsters splash to the surface from water that looked clear." - Emma Forrest
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25 comments:

  1. That sounds like an interesting read. I have tried to explain to my husband so many times that the things I do aren't just about hair, nails etc, but that there is something very relaxing and soothing in going to the hairdressers, taking a break from working/mum-stuff, that goes beyond the hour off and the new do.
    He just doesn't get it...

    Linda, Libra, Loca: Beauty, Baby and Backpacking

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    1. Exactly! I think for a lot of women, the time spent on these things is the only time really spent on ourselves rather than our responsibilities. It's definitely an interesting read, it's a nice one to have on a coffee table too, as you can just dip in and out of the different essays :) x

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  2. I am reading it now!! I think you have given fantastic review!!
    Xoxo,
    Love from www.trangscorner.com {a lifestyle, fashion, beauty, and food blog}

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    1. Thank you! It really is a wonderful book :) X

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  3. This books sounds fab and I must definitely pick it up soon. I agree with the whole beauty thing, I hate when people say that you only do your hair or makeup to impress other people or whatever as I do it for myself, because I want to feel good. P.S I love the way you take your pictures *heart eye emojis*

    http://www.perks0fbeingnazia.blogspot.co.uk

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    1. It really is - one of those ones that makes you really think about how beauty makes you feel beyond just looking pretty.
      And thanks so much! I've been really trying to improve my photography over the past few months, so that means a lot :) X

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  4. Thanks for the book recommendation, I've been trying to get into more non fiction books lately. This one also seems very interesting.

    http://perfectshadeofmauve.blogspot.com/

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    1. It's definitely worth a go, especially so for anyone who's into beauty!

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  5. Sounds like it should be a good read♥♥

    summerdaisy.net

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    1. Definitely, highly recommend checking it out :)

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  6. Sound like a very interesting book to read. Thank you for recommendation. :3 Your blog is beautiful.

    Ana
    http://anarazon.blogspot.co.uk/

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    1. Definitely an interesting read, I reckon anyone who loves beauty should have it in their personal library :) And thank you! Really appreciate hearing people like how my blog looks - I'm still so new I feel like I'm probably getting loads of things wrong :p

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  7. Wonderful post! I love the pics:)

    www.theprintedsea.blogspot.com

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  8. This sounds like an interesting read. Completely share your frustrations when it comes to beauty being trivialised.

    Amy - fourcatsplusus.co.uk

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    1. It is a fab read - it's just so lovely to actually have people articulate all the reasons that beauty is such a meaningful thing.

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  9. I haven't seen that book before however it sounds interesting! I think I will buy it, I just need to finish the ones I am reading now :) x

    www.elabellaworld.com

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    1. I have that problem a lot - so many books I want to read but I'm usually already in the middle of like four! X

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  10. Couldn't agree more about the beauty and that we want to look good for ourselves! Period :)
    I must check out this book. Kind of in the middle of reading two, not sure how that happened :)
    xox Nadia
    http://mielandmint.blogspot.co.uk/

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    1. It's a great read :) I tend to have that problem a lot too, I always seem to have at least 2 or 3 books on the go! X

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  11. It sounds like an interesting read - and it seems so unique compared to the other books I've read! It sounded a little off-putting when I read "essays" but it doesn't seem like that at all. This would be such a great read since I'm trying to read more books and hey, even better if it has something to do with beauty! I'll definitely have to check this out - thanks for the suggestion! :) xx

    http://mybeautycloud.com

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  12. Looks like book of its own kind. This is an interesting take on topic which we are all so obsessed with. Got to read this book.

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  13. I am reading it now!! I think you have given fantastic review!!

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