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  • Sat, 12, Sep, 2020 - 5:00:AM

Book Review: ‘More Than a Woman’ by Caitlin Moran

“I know that unless you are spirited and beautiful heiress, life is essentially a to-do list. Which begins with ‘escape this vagina’ and ends with ‘escape this earth’.” This is one of the numerous hilarious (and sadly true) statements made throughout Caitlin Moran’s book More Than a Woman, the highly anticipated follow-up to her best-selling memoir How to Be a Woman.

In More Than a Woman, Moran writes about her experiences and reflections on middle-aged life. While I don’t necessarily agree with all of her opinions, there is nothing more reassuring for a twenty-something year old than advice dispensed freely and with a wicked sense of humour from someone as self-assured as Caitlin Moran. She is that eccentric batty aunt that everyone needs in their life, who will call your parents out on their bullshit and show you how to love your life.

To-do lists, Botox, ‘maintenance sex’, capsule wardrobes, the pathetic glossary of terms related to female pleasure, marriage, yoga, parenting teenagers, mental health… Moran delves into a large range of topics but recently told Kim Hill on Saturday Morning that her change of heart about Botox has been one of the most controversial pieces of writing she has ever published. Moran has no space for shame on this front. In the book she explains how she threw in the towel on all the ineffective and expensive beauty treatments that capitalism supposedly offers. And she knows she does it for herself, telling Hill that “…I want my face to look like how I feel, which is happy. Rather than just this sort of sad deflated Gruffalo kind of woe-face that you increasingly seem to accumulate when you get past your forties.“

The prospects of this ageing Gruffalo face never really bothered me, and I’ve always held the - perhaps naïve - belief that my forties are going to be the best decade of my existence. I’ve always told friends that I can’t wait to enjoy the easy, breezy times when I’ve finished figuring out who I am, and have a financially stable, very put-together adult life. Moran kind of puts a spanner in this delusion of mine, saying that life actually gets harder in middle age, because “If you’re a reasonably sorted middle-aged woman, you become the fifth emergency service to those around you because you have ageing parents, you have teenaged children, you’ve got friends who are divorcing, and you are the one in the middle kind of like trying to hold society together.”

But Moran also shows us the best parts of being a middle-aged woman, the richness and joys of it all. “Currently, what eleven-year-old girl would volunteer for growing into a woman?” she asks, explaining that our society does not show young girls that being a woman can be empowering and freeing and an experience to love. But even in this world where feminism is a “fragile and precarious system” that is “still just an informal network of millions of unpaid women trying to squeeze making the world better for our children in between the other six thousand things on our to-do list”, Moran shows us that our present and future can hold so much. Namely happiness, hilarity, and hope for a brilliant and dazzling life.

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