My best friend growing up and I used to spend hours at the local library.
I was always an avid reader and would go to the library on my first day of school holidays, take an hour or so deciding how to best use up my 10 book allowance, and then beg my mum to take me back 2 days later when I had finished reading them all.
I loved Enid Blyton, Judy Blume, Ann M Martin, Lucy M Montgomery, all the books you’d expect a young girl exploring adolescence to read.
Always novels, and all about growing up, finding friendship, and exploring the world.
It was never non-fiction. It never really interested me. I would learn things at school and when I got home I wanted to escape into worlds which were better. There wasn’t much to imagine in non-fiction.
When I was 11 and about to hit puberty I found a book left on my bed. That was it. That was the birds and the bees talk. The reassurance that everything was changing but was going to be OK. Like most everything else in life, I was going to learn it from a book.
I don’t even remember what book it was, I only remembered that it was slightly scary and hilarious and not at all like Dolly or Girlfriend magazine.
So the next time my best friend and I were at the library, we thought that we’d look up similar books. If my twelve year old’s memory is correct there was a whole section on Women’s Self Help (which seems slightly unlikely nowadays but vaguely possible that the Dewey Decimal system would allow such sexist language).
And we found this book, “Boobs, Boys, & High Heels”. The title was naughty enough to get the interest of two 11 year old girls and it had a bright pink cover.
It was a how to guide on attracting GGs (Gorgeous Guys), walking in HH (High Heels), and most importantly how to get dressed in just under 6 hours.
We borrowed this so many times by the time we were teenagers (and still borrowing it well into our late teens) the pages were dog eared from reading it so many times.
Years later and I always had this vague recollection of some of the tips, tricks, and Brill-isms that had permeated my teenage years.
Eventually I tracked it down on Amazon, and after paying too much for it and amidst all the scathing reviews, I bought a copy to call my own.
I sat down and read it cover to cover. And it made a lot of things very clear.
For its frivolous subject matter it was influential in shaping so many things.
My writing style, my love of shoes, my reluctance to never buy yellow lingerie,
But the message that it sung the loudest was self-acceptance.
Whatever size you were (it has diet tips for slimming down and slimming up), whatever lingerie/shoes/boob you wore, whether you had a GGor not, it didn’t matter.
It said that you were ok.
You could be a Brill Babe because you were awesome.
I’m still often curious as to whether or not anyone else used to read it, or even if it’s still at the library.
But it influenced two little 11 year old girls to be themselves through an awkward and confusing time.