Hollywood, its Books and Mentors

Around Christmas 2015, Hollywood was swamped by news about new wellness books by young actresses: Kate Hudson had one, Lea Michelle had her second, as did Cameron Diaz. Curious to find out what it’s all about, I wrote an article for the June issue of Gloria Glam. This one wasn’t easy but it was eye opening.

The problem was that sometimes my excitement about reviewing the books disappeared the moment I opened the envelope with the review copy - it shocked me that some of those books look like they were made for little girls. All pink, full of flowery patterns and curtsy drawings, they actually offended me. Kate Hudson went so far to explain in her introduction to her book „Pretty Happy“ how frustrating it is for women to be surrounded by idealised images of women and how she wanted to teach her readers to feel good about themselves no matter what they look like – while filling the book with pictures of herself that look like they were made for FHM. Looking through the book, I had to constantly remind myself that Kate has a nutritionist, a private trainer, who knows how many nannies and assistants – and let’s not even go into plastic surgery and Photoshop. Thanks Kate.

Lea Michelle’s second book (! - because she’s 29) „You first“ is teaching us how to become successful, thin, healthy and happy by writing down our goals. The book has 240 pages, out  of which 38 are printed. Lea was so nice to leave the other 200 pages empty so we can write down our goals. I wonder how I would feel about it if I paid for it.

But then there’s Jessica Alba and her Honest Life (yes, yes I know it turned out her detergents are everything but), which is clearly a marketing tool for her 2 billion dollar business empire, but at least a useful guide on how to clear our life of toxins. Cameron Diaz published „The Body Book“ and then „Longevity“ – the first a charming text book on female biology, the second a great attempt to understand ageing. Cindy Crawford’s „Becoming“ was surprisingly grounded and full of simple advice, as well as chapter titles such as „Even I don’t Wake Up Looking Like Cindy Crawford.“ Thank you Cindy (and this one isn’t sarcastic).

Why all those books? I asked experts such as Caitlin Leffel of „Rizzoli“ publishing and Tyson Cornell of „Rare Bird“ PR, and learned they are creating a brand and therefore new business opportunities for the stars. For others, they are vanity projects - many people see publishing a book as the crowning of one’s success. In any case, stars aren’t doing it for the money – if they’re lucky, they’ll earn couple of hundreds of thousands, which is for many of them pocket money. Of course, they don’t write those books themselves – there are always ghostwriters involved and it was interesting to learn that the better their name is hidden, the more they earn. 

As part of the research I read Jane Fonda’s autobiography, which came out a few years ago. It is 624 long, and it took Jane seven years to write. No ghostwriter. A very inspiring book. This is where real lessons were, the ones a 29-year old starlet simply isn’t able to teach me. Jane made me wonder where the voices of older women are, the women who experienced life and therefore truly have something to teach us. It made me think about our obsession with youth culture and how it went so far that we forgot the value of mentors – who simply have to be older and more experienced. When I asked Cameron about this, she gave me an interesting answer: instead of asking grandma, we ask Google. She also said that in order to be remembered, older women must put themselves, and their messages, out there.

Agree. As always, it’s on us to make a change.