Back in the 1990s and early aughts, I was an editor at and writer for teen magazines including Sassy, YM, Cosmo Girl, Seventeen, Elle Girl and Teen People. And every single one of those magazines was bombarded with letters and emails from readers asking the same questions. They all wanted to know if they were pretty enough to model and how they'd ever get boys to like them if they didn't look like models. My cubicle at work was plastered with photos readers from all over the country had sent in so we could evaluate them. But instead of doing that, I wrote All Made up: A Girl's Guide to Seeing Through Celebrity Hype and Celebrating Real Beauty (ISBN: 9780802777447)(because I had the very same questions and concerns when I was growing up.)
All Made Up debuted in 2006--right around the same time Dove Real Beauty Campaign released findings that only two percent of women describe themselves as beautiful while 72% rate their beauty as average and 47% consider their body weight as too high.
At the time, 86% of the approximately 10 million American girls and women who suffered from eating disorders reported the onset of their condition by age 20. And the world was spending $38 billion on hair care products, $24 billion on skin care, $18 billion on makeup and $15 billion on perfumes every year.
As a result, All Made Up quickly became an essential guide for teen girls (age 11-15) trying to understand which women are celebrated in our pop culture and why. More importantly, it (hopefully!) helped readers start to question whether it's their bodies that need to be fixed (and waxed, tanned, plucked…) or rather today’s commercially-driven beauty standards.