Allen & Unwin, Australia, 2020
Felicity Harley will be known to many as the founding editor of Women’s Health magazine and of whimn.com.au as well as for her appearances on commercial breakfast TV and the ‘I Support Women in Sport’ campaign.
A mother of three small children, she continues to lead a busy professional life and has turned her attention with this book to the widespread feeling of stress and being overwhelmed experienced by women, especially the millennials and Gen X/Gen Y-ers.
In this book she examines the causes and effects of the quest for perfection, the having it all/doing it all syndrome and the expectations of a social- media-ravaged age on women. The impact of this on women’s health and well-being is at the core of the matter.
Felicity Harley has accessed a number of high-profile and/or highly competent experts/speakers across a range of wellness and psychological practices and sought their opinions on contributors to stress and exhaustion in the 21st century western world.
These include names as diverse as Professor Brené Brown, Pink, Beyoncé and Dr Rebecca Huntley. She then distils some of this wisdom along with that of her own mother and grandmother to suggest a few simple solutions – for instance, ditching the self-imposed perfectionism, creating sensible boundaries, rationing social media time, focusing on the people who matter most in your life and spending time and effort accordingly.
This is a work unashamedly aimed at generations of women now in their twenties to forties – and perhaps it is these cohorts that will most strongly identify with the situations covered and the lifestyle stresses explored and stripped bare. However, we can all benefit from self-reflection and from a thoughtful exploration of our own society and where we fit and have fitted into it. Most women and many men will find much that resonates here.
It is a well-written, easily read book, both stylistically and in its content. There is no doubt that it finds its mark, not just insightfully but also with sensitivity and understanding – there is a generosity of spirit about this book which stems from the author’s invitation to see ourselves as all on a similar, if not identical, page.
Many thanks to Allen & Unwin for giving me a review copy of Balance and other B.S.