I wanted to talk about the conversation on Instagram after Chidera Eggurue posted on her stories about a lot of the content in her book What a Time to be Alone (2018) as well as the layout/design being wildly similar to Florence Given’s book Women Don’t Owe You Pretty (2020).
My sister bought me the book What a Time to be Alone by Chidera for my birthday after a breakup I went though two years ago. I thought it was a beautifully articulated, empowering book. I liked the use of Nigerian proverb throughout as it felt more authentic to me to have ancestral background from the authors culture weaved into a the book. It’s full of bright colours and graphics that put the book at an accessible advantage to others of its kind.
I began following Chidera on Instagram where I also discovered Florence Given. They share a similar message and Florence Given openly admits she takes influence from Chidera, stating this in her book Women Don’t Owe You Pretty. I idly followed FG, I found her use of graphics and feminism extremely accessible and palatable (aka WHITE!) which suited me (a white person). I followed the trend and bought her book this year when it came out, this isn’t unusual for me as I buy a lot of books but I did feel as though hers lacked substance. I remember chatting to someone saying that the book wasn’t anything I didn’t already know and that it would be great if I was 15.
I think we all know the reasons FG book is so popular. Her look! She’s a skinny, pretty, able-bodied, white women on Instagram. Instagram is a social media platform that relies heavily on aesthetic with it being mainly a photo sharing app. I have always loved it because of this, I like photos of beautiful scenes and if you were to look at my Instagram you’d find many photos like this. But the issue I have felt consistently while using the app (any social media app tbh) is that it is far too easy to get caught up in aesthetics and value them over important messages and deeper meanings to things.
I’m accepting my own responsibility in adhering to this superficial platform and idly following figures such as FG (who is only 21 btw) therefore I feel it is appropriate for me as a white person to acknowledge that I and we, have to do better when choosing who to look up to/who to read books by.
I’ve always loved reading books, literature is my favourite form of art. So naturally, I felt it important to share some of the books I read before I read WDOYP that I feel need more attention:
1. As well as Chidera’s What a Time to be Alone, she has also written How to get Over a Boy which is a great book for advice on getting over someone and a guide to dating. Or if you’re already in a relationship and interested in delving into your attachment style and love language in order to better your existing relationships with those around you.
2. In Chidera’s Instgram story she stated the only real difference in FG’s book was that she touched on queerness. I’ve also heard a lot of people saying they really benefited from FG discussing bisexuality in her book. Well, let me tell you something, Shiri Eisner wrote Bi: Notes for a Bisexual Revolution. Shiri is a Bisexual, Mizrahi, disabled, genderqueer person. The book has way more history, substance and information about the trans/bi community compared to the FG book.
3. Why I’m no Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo Lodge. Need I say more than this title suggests? We have literally watched our capitalist white supremacist world play out with the publishing of Chidera’s and FG’s book. It is down to us (white people) to start listening to marginalised voices, buying their books, art, work supporting their businesses and changing the way the whole system works.
I’m sure there are plenty of other books on feminism by authors who aren’t white that I am yet to discover and read so I want to open up this post as a discussion thread to share book recommendations. Leave a comment below !