Each summer I hit the motherhood reboot button, thinking “This year we’ll have the perfect summer full of educational activities and field trips, family read-alouds, and special bonding experiences tailor-made for each child.” I don’t generally meet all my goals, but we end up doing more than sitting around staring at screens, which might otherwise be the default.
Read the last 5 Minutes for Books on myth-busting titles.
Erika Katz’s Bonding Over Beauty has given me some ideas for special projects that I can do with my soon-to-be teen daughter during these days of leisure. She and I are well-acquainted with the power of pretty and boost in bonding we get from manicures and pedicures—done at home or at the salon—but this book goes beyond that.
The content is informative, but the tone focuses on the long-term goal—to create a healthy, open mother-daughter relationship. On the subject of hairstyles, Katz says, “The best thing you can do is take an interest in your daughter’s hair and help her find the most flattering look for her, not you. Be flexible. Hair grows back. Nothing is forever except the bond the two of you form now.”
The instruction in this chapter includes straightening, blow-drying and how to style the perfect ponytail, chignon and French twist, then provides bonding suggestions such as doing a deep-conditioning treatment, at-home hair coloring, or experimenting with scarves.
Lest you think that beauty is all sparkles and hair spray, the book also includes a chapter aptly titled “Bonding Over Puberty & Hygiene (Yes it can be done!)“ The suggested activities open the door for conversation. Try telling your daughter some humiliating stories about yourself so that you can both laugh about this sensitive subject.
Sometimes we say “no” to something new, because we don’t feel comfortable letting them grow up. Katz’s advice about shaving in the chapter on unwanted body hair reinforces the theme of the book: “Would you want to go to school with hairy legs (that) can bring on teasing and poor self-esteem? If you do not allow her to shave, she might borrow a friend’s razor and cut up her legs. I think it’s best to show your daughter empathy and be grateful she feels comfortable enough to talk openly about a subject that may be highly sensitive to her.”
Doing the bonding activities provides an easier way to touch on these topics. Instead of lecturing your daughter about skin-care essentials, do a homemade mask while talking about the changes she is seeing in her skin.
As I predicted would happen, when I left the book out on the table, my 12-year-old daughter picked it up and started reading. When asked, she said that the pink cover got her attention. The look does enhance its subject. The subtitles are in a curly font, and the cover, some inside pages and sidebars are pink. Though it’s a book written to coach moms who are trying to communicate with their daughters about their bodies, it’s not inappropriate for older tweens and teens to read it cover-to-cover themselves, as my daughter ended up doing.
Whether you and your daughter are typical girly girls or more low maintenance, Bonding over Beauty will help you fill in the gaps in your knowledge to ease that transition from little girl to woman.
Jennifer Donovan has been reviewing books online for over four years—and reading ever since she can remember. As a child, she favored realistic fiction, and she is still drawn to the stories of people's lives found in memoir and in character-driven fiction. Jennifer has been managing editor at 5 Minutes for Books since she launched the site in 2008 with the goal of providing diverse content meant to encourage people of all ages to read.