For National Women in Small Business Month, we teamed up with women business owners and leaders to review books written by women, for women. Below, Lynn Davidson of Jelco Props reviews I Am That Girl: How To Speak Your Truth, Discover Your Purpose and #bethatgirl by Alexis Jones. These opinions are solely those of the reviewer and do not necessarily reflect those of Kabbage. Check out the other book reviews we’ve posted, here.
I Am That Girl: How To Speak Your Truth, Discover Your Purpose and #bethatgirl
I Am That Girl by Alexis Jones is meant to be a guidebook for women to “Speak Your Truth, Discover Your Purpose and #bethatgirl,” and it’s full of perky phrases young women may want to write on a sticky note and put in the corner of their mirrors. Unfortunately, that’s really all it is, a collection of clichés strung together with anecdotes that has no new information in it. The things Jones has to say have all been said before.
And they’ve been said way better. Maybe it’s nitpicking, but this bothers me: “…it reminded all of us that beauty is a verb and not an adjective…” and so does this: “…is a reminder that compassion is a verb and not an adjective…” What? WHAT? When did beauty become a verb? When did compassion become a verb? And aren’t these essentially the same sentence? And who edited this book?
But wait, there’s more.
“…This sounds super simple…”;
“…one-liners makes me super prepared…”;
“…I’m super flattered…”;
“…known for being super intimidating…”;
“…reality is that it’s super scary…”;
“…it’s super important to really know…”;
“…If they are super busy, you can…”
One might be forgiven for not taking Jones super seriously as the voice of wisdom.
There is a very specific audience for whom this book is written, and that’s the young, privileged, dare-I-say – white “have it all” female. Jones’ voice is that of a high school cheerleader who has yet to experience life outside her small town. She writes, “Too many times, I have come across girls who lack the ability to just close their eyes and imagine their lives better, envision their dream job, or visualize their ideal relationship.” And it’s just that easy. Close your eyes and dream and you can do it! (shake poms poms here). Jones seems oblivious to the additional challenges faced by women who lack a good support network, or who grew up in poverty or were in a minority race or religion. The book silently assumes that the reader didn’t have or doesn’t have those sorts of challenges.
What’s curious about that, though, is the fact that Jones spent time in Cambodia working with young girls. She acknowledges that it diverted her attention away from her usual priorities: “I didn’t stress over what outfit I was going to wear or if I’d eaten too many carbs that day…” Despite her heroic time away from fashion and food choices, she still doesn’t make the connection that she speaks from a position of privilege. It’s as though she sees these girls as a different species than the kind of girls she’s talking to in her book.
It isn’t all bad, though. In the first paragraph I mentioned anecdotes. Wedged in among the super perky advice are contributions from women in a variety of positions, a variety of age groups and a variety of backgrounds. In these are some true pearls.
My particular favorite is the words of Francesca Adler-Baeder, PhD, when asked “what do you wish someone had told you in your twenties?”
“Pace yourself. No one ever told me that. To the contrary- the message for young women of promise is to go at life full force. Seize all the opportunities, work really hard, develop and use the gifts you’ve been given, and leverage them to make a difference in the world in a big way…It is my only lament about our liberation as women. So well-intentioned, but the result is that we quickly normalize a daily schedule of fluid boundaries between work and personal life that if we look closely reveals we’re essentially working all the time. There’s a (secret) pride felt in the length of our resume and the amount of tasks on our daily to do list. We find ourselves in conversations with others acknowledging the insane number of hours we’re working, our regular operation on very little sleep, and our terrible eating habits, not as a lament or a call for help, but as a sort of bragging point that seems to impress others.”
This priceless gem is tucked quietly in the middle of a book telling young women how to pursue what they want tirelessly, with passion and ferocity.
I was asked to review this book honestly, and so I have. But it needs to be said that my review comes from the perspective of having achieved “a certain age” and from the expanded worldview that comes from age and experience.
If I were a young woman today with a decent education and access to a good support network, and ready to take on the world, the message of this book would be valuable. Despite my cynical response to Jones’ tone and language, they have their place as motivators, and seem to resonate with millennials in general. This is just one of many books with the same message. And Jones is one of many young, female motivational speakers who have sprung up of late. The mere fact that there are a number of young, female motivational speakers sends a subliminal message that may be more valuable than the tone or content of these books.