Bossed Up: A Grown Woman's Guide to Getting Your Sh*t Together
Author: Emilie Aries
Publisher: Public Affairs
Release Date: May 2019
In the 1980s, The Cinderella Complex warned women to stop expecting a prince (i.e. man) to save them from the drudgery of their own lives. Living Alone and Liking It was the hip guide for ladies socializing as a "minus one." Helen Gurley Brown assured women they could have it all in her autobiographical self-improvement-cum-tell-all. These books were seminal pieces of the larger women's empowerment movement, but they failed to recognize what today's young women seem to have suspected all along: having it all is not the same as wanting it all. And "all" can include a relationship.
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Fast forward nearly 40 years. The daughters of the original readers of those '80s bestsellers are far more "feminist" than women's rights pioneers could have ever imagined. Women the age of Emilie Aries don't need to be told to wave off the prince's golden carriage. They'll grab a Lyft, thank you very much. And living alone (read: "without a man") isn't unusual, it's sort of … well … life.
Although Bossed Up is masterfully tuned to Millennials, mothers who read this book should be willing to face some painful truths - not the least of which is the realization that we may be one of the stresses our daughters are trying to escape. It's a lesson we need to hear, however, and life and career advice every young woman should read.
Bossed Up is like its author: smart, sharp and unapologetic. Aries expects no resistance to the premise of women as equals, at the dinner table or in the company break room. Where Bossed Up shines, however, is in its perceptive guidance about a woman's need to put her emotional and physical well-being first; to thwart that persistent expectation to subjugate her own priorities to those of friends, family and colleagues.
Certainly, Aries isn't urging women to live inside some selfish, self-serving cocoon, but she does stress the essential necessity of recognizing futility. Her advice about walking away from projects and relationships that have reached the "point of diminishing returns" is marvelously succinct and impactful. And, while 21st century women may believe they've transcended the need to perfect, perform and please, Aries offers a welcome reminder that we're still sleepwalking on that treadmill.
Bossed Up combines the feel-good aspects of a self-help book with the emotional slap-in-the-face of an intervention. It serves a moderate helping of timeworn advice seasoned with celebrity quotes and pop culture references. Aries' conclusions and analyses are fresh, though, as when she explains the important differences between a "fixed trait mindset" and a "growth mindset." Or, when she contrasts assertiveness with aggression.
You don't have to be young to get "bossed up." Aries' motivational style and conversational tone have universal appeal. Her most important message, to lift as you climb, is one all women should embrace, especially in a time when the escalator transporting us is faltering at best, and slipping backwards at worst. ~SH/TRP.