Recently, I read a book called Only Ever Yours by a wonderful author named Louise O’Neill.
O’Neill’s book touched on some very important topics. But first, I will give you a short summary found on the backside of the book.
“Considered two of the most physically perfect students at the School, freida and isabel have been best friends their whole lives. Now sixteen and in their final year at the school, where they have learned how to become the most beautiful girls they can possibly be, the two friends fully expect to be selected as “companions,” spouses to wealthy and powerful men. The alternative- to spend their lives as “concubines,” or worse, “chastities,”- is too horrible to even contemplate.
But as the intensity of the final year takes hold, the pressure to remain perfect becomes unbearable. Isabel starts to self-destruct, putting her beauty- which she spent her entire young life refining- in peril. Confused by beautiful isabel’s mysterious decent into self-destruction, freida decides she must fight for her future, even if that means betraying the only friend- the only love- she’s ever known.
And then the boys arrive at the School, prepared to seal each girl’s fate- as a companion, concubine, or chastity.”
As I’m sure you can already tell from that description, Only Ever Yours touches on some very important topics, such as the image of a female. These girls spend their entire life (literally, since they were four) learning how to be perfect. They weren’t born naturally. Females are designed and hatched. They are designed to be perfect. The girls grow up in the School, taking classes daily on how to be beautiful, proper nutrition, how to take care of sons and be the perfect wife for their possible future husbands, etc. They are not allowed to learn subjects such as Math, Science, English, or History.
This book describes an extreme, unrealistic approach to female beauty ideals and worth. The plot of this book describes females as people used for beauty. Their only worth is to raise kids and take care of the house. They are “terminated”, which means killed, once they turn forty, because after then, they are not pretty enough anymore.
I think the biggest thing I’ve noticed in this book is how women are not considered real or valuable people. The girls names are written as frieda, or isabel, instead of Freida or Isabel. The difference? The capital letter. freida and isabel should be proper nouns, because they are people and the name of a person should always be capitalized. However, in this setting, women are not valued, therefore they do not deserve to be considered proper nouns.
I would recommend this book to anyone. It is a really amazing and moving book. If you would like to get a deeper, more dramatic understanding of the beauty standards women must appeal to, and what kind of pressure society puts on us to be visually “perfect”, I recommend you give it a read.