I recently finished a delightful little book called How to Be a Hepburn in a Hilton World: The Art of Living with Style, Class, and Grass. It is written by a publicist for Warner Bros. Records named Jordan Christy. The basic idea behind the book is that in the years since Audrey Hepburn graced the silver screen, our culture has come to uphold standards of behavior that are simply unacceptable for smart girls to follow. This book sets out to show “modern ladies how they can be beautiful, intelligent, and fun while retaining values and morals.”
One of the most welcome things about this book is that it is not a Christian guide to modesty. I’m not saying those types of books can’t be helpful, but it was refreshing to find a book written for women who want to (or have to) work in a business setting instead of on an idylic homestead. It tells girls you can be modern as well as feminine, that you don’t have to wear ankle-length skirts to be modest, and that acting like a lady can be fun instead of restrictive. I think it would be a great book to give girls who feel like the commonly presented Christian ideals of womanhood are shutting them out (for the record, this does not include me, but does describe some of my close friends).
Just to be fair, there were some things I did not like about the book. In an effort (I assume) to keep the text relevant to modern readers, Christy uses many examples of actresses, characters, and reality shows. There were enough to become excessive (and I didn’t recognize most of them). Her writing style might also seem blunt and off-putting to some readers.
Chapter 1: Keep Your Chin Up and Your Skirt Down
“If we want [guys’] undivided attention for a bout 2.4 seconds, we should keep wearing our glittery minis and doing the bend-and-snap. But if we want a real relationship with a real gentleman, we should just keep being our smart, classy, fabulous selves.” Or, for those who’ve never worn a mini skirt in their lives, don’t be tempted to compromise.
Chapter 2: Words, Words, Words
This chapter advised reading and increasing our vocabularies so we can become better conversationalists. She also covers knowing when to speak and when to keep silent, quoting George Eliot: “Blessed is the man who, having nothing to say, abstains from giving us wordy evidence of the fact.”
Chapter 3: Use Some Elbow Grease
“Unfortunately, that hard-work-doesn’t-hurt mentality appears to be in short supply these days. Why? It’s become painfully clear that our society just doesn’t support a sincere work ethic anymore.” Be that as it may, if you want to be a classy, respectable young woman, you have to be willing to work.
Chapter 4: Choose Your Friends Wisely
We need to find friends “who will help us kick our own vices, not just drag us down in the mire with them and theirs. If we’re struggling with self-image and potential eating-disorder thoughts … we need to find ourselves some normal, curvy friends who will take us to counseling and won’t care if we’re a size 2 or a 10.”
Chapter 5: Let Him Come Calling
“Regardless of the guy’s current status, bank account, background, or beliefs, if he’s interested, he will do the pursuing. There’s no need to interfere with the ways of nature! Doing so will only scare him off.” This is one chapter I had a little disagreement with. She doesn’t allow for anything in between completely-ignore-the-guy and obnoxiously-pester-him-with-text-messages-every-few-hours. If you’re already friends, shouldn’t you be allowed to Facebook or e-mail him once in a while to keep in touch?
Chapter 6: Dress to Impress
Two quotes this time: “While it may seem frivolous to some, our personal style does more talking than we ever could about ourselves — and we want to make sure it’s saying nice things!” “While it can be tempting to want to keep up with the current inseam trends, the respect we’ll receive from not exposing our chest region and upper thighs is worth so much more than the five-seconds stares we’d get from a bunch of ogling buffoons.”
Chapter 7: Less Is More
“Our society is undoubtedly of the flashier/louder/faster/stronger mentality, and for some reason makeup tends to fall into the same category, but it really should be placed indefinitely in the less-is-more category. … We need to realize makeup is a simply something to enhance certain features — not a daily necessity that needs to be applied from sunup to sundown.”
Chapter 8: Have Your Cake and Eat It Too
“You can healthfully and happily maintain your weight without taking any weird voodoo pills or sprinting a marathon on the treadmill every week. You simply need to find a steady balance between those leafy greens and that Sprinkles cupcake. Let’s become the new poster children for happy, healthy young women.”