Book Review: Diary of a Confused Feminist
Diary of a Confused Feminist
Written by Kate Weston
Published by Hachette
Publication date: 6th February 2020
Summary (from Goodreads):
Kat wants to do GOOD FEMINISM, although she’s not always sure what that means. She also wants to be a writer, get together with Hot Josh (is this a feminist ambition?), win at her coursework and not make a TOTAL EMBARRASSMENT of herself at all times.
But the path to true feminism is filled with mortifying incidents and when everything at school starts to get a bit too much, Kat knows she’s lost her way, and the only way forward is to ask for help . . .
Join Kat AKA the Confused Feminist as she navigates EVERYTHING from menstrual cups and mental health to Instagram likes and #TimesUp in her HILARIOUS, OUTRAGEOUS and VERY EMBARRASSING diary.
I know this is very un-feminist of me not to be happy with my body as it is, and I’m really trying my best to be better. But it’s hard to change the thoughts in your head to match up with what you THINK you should be feeling rather than what you’re actually feeling. At least once a day I worry that I don’t feel very womanly and that I don’t have ‘womanly curves.’ And maybe that’s why I’m connecting with feminism so much . I feel like it’s a step towards feeling more like a woman even if I don’t have the curves or the sophistication. It seems unfair not to feel very womanly when you still have to deal with menstrual cramps though. So maybe I am just making myself feel more womanly and feminist with these fillet à boobiés, and I am actually still DOING GOOD FEMINISM?
First impressions: I went into this expecting a light-hearted, funny read…and that’s what I got, at least at first. The protagonist has an informal, unique voice and I loved her descriptions of her friendship and the embarrassing situations she gets herself into (reminiscent of Geek Girl in some ways!). Yet, this book also had surprising depth to it, especially once we start discussing mental health, anxiety and the pressures that social media and maintaining an image can put on people to always be showing their ‘best’ selves.
When I was younger I thought that when I started my period I’d instantly feel like a woman. I’d feel sexy and powerful and together. But it didn’t happen. I feel like I’m still waiting for it. I’m still waiting to feel like all the other girls at school. We haven’t talked about it but I know Sam and Millie feel like women. I just feel like I’m stuck as a little girl. Like maybe I’m some kind of real-life Benjamin Button hybrid child-monster. On the outside I’m still ageing but in my head I’m going progressively backwards until I’m just eating, pooping and crying at everyone. OK. I need to grow up. I need to start doing the things that everyone else is doing. But I can’t seem to move on from being Kitty Kat. The girl whose hair people ruffle, who has a cute nickname and can’t talk to boys. Not that boys are the most important thing because I’m a feminist. Or trying to be. Why can’t someone just teach me how to do it all? A bullet pointed list of rules? So I don’t have to feel like I’m just muddling about trying to piece it all together and absolutely ALWAYS GETTING IT WRONG.
Kat wound her way into my heart very early in reading this book – it brought me back to the uncertainty of being a teenager and trying to do your best, but managing to somehow get ‘it’ wrong, whatever ‘it’ is.
I liked how the discussion of Kat’s mental health was taken seriously, and how her father immediately related to it as he had had a similar experience. Kat’s friends really are her rock, even though they are also human and don’t always make the best decisions in every situation.
This book starts off hilariously, with embarrassing incidents coming fast and thick, but it becomes much more thoughtful as the book goes on, a depth that I had not been expecting but welcomed.
This is a great book for anyone who is curious about feminism or who is looking to see a realistic portrayal of anxiety. Recommended!
I’m sitting in front of the light-up mirror at the dresser I demanded for my 5th birthday, saying that all princesses need somewhere to get pretty. Now all it’s lighting up is every massive pore, every spot and every acne scar. My greasy hair and shiny skin and the way that my forehead is too small. I look at women on Instagram who are so effortlessly beautiful and it makes me hate myself even more. I KNOW that there’s filters on those pictures, but even filters don’t make me look normal , let alone actually pretty. I need to be more like them. I know that none of this is feminist. We’re supposed to love our bodies, our faces, we’re supposed to be confident in them. That’s what feminists do. That’s what real women do. That’s what I can’t do, and that makes me even more flawed. I feel like I’m a half woman. Not quite fully good enough for the world.
What I liked: Kat’s character development throughout the book, her frienship with Sam and Millie, how supportive her parents are, the fact that she is actually taken seriously when she does finally ask for help, rather than being dismissed, the themes of fitting in and standing out and trying to be the best that you can be in a world where your actions can so easily be judged. I also liked how she engaged with the idea of feminism and what that actually means to her and the people around her.
Even better if: I can’t think of anything really, although I can imagine that many readers will want to find out more about feminism after reading this!
How you could use it in your classroom: This should be an essential part of any library catering for secondary or teenage pupils, and would be a great recommendation for anyone who has enjoyed Moxie or Pulp. Extracts from this could be used in class to start discussions about feminism and anxiety.
(Thank you to Hachette and Netgalley for my e-ARC)
What did other people think?
Emily @A Short Book Lover said:
“It’s a refreshingly funny but honest look at teenage feminism, friendship and mental health.”
Katie @ That Book Gal Reads said:
“This is definitely the kind of book I would want in the hands of my teenager. It’s written in a way that should resonate with teen’s, whilst delivering some important messages in a light hearted and witty way.”
@ Little Miss Book Lover said:
“This is definitely a book I wish I could send back to my younger self to read. This is a truly enjoyable and easy read. I have cried with laughter and sorrow throughout this book.”
While you’re here, why not check out my reviews of Invisible Women, Girls in Politics, Welcome to Our World, Together We Can, Herstory, The Burning, Female Pilots, It’s Your World Now, Throne of Swans or The Deepest Breath?