Reading Is Fundamental


Each month, we like to curl up with a magazine stack and catch up on the latest trends. Unfortunately, the air-brushed glossies that arrive in our mailboxes featuring “perfect” models often make us feel completely inadequate. Though we’d never give up our favorite subscriptions, we’ve found a few books that happily present a more realistic definition of beauty. Whether battling acne, aging, or facing life-threatening diseases such as cancer, the following books are written specifically to empower women by embracing all those little imperfections that make us unique:

When makeup artist Ramy Gafni was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma he realized how cancer wreaks havoc on the body and that most victims don’t know how to repair this damage. Beauty Therapy: The Ultimate Guide to Looking and Feeling Great While Living With Cancer ($24, M. Evans and Company) offers tips on how to cope with changes in appearance and self-esteem while undergoing cancer treatment. From coping with hair loss by using wigs and other techniques to recreating the look of full eyelashes, Ramy’s book is written with compassion and “I’ve been there” experience.

Another book tackling cancer and self-worth is Why I Wore Lipstick to My Mastectomy by Geralyn Lucas, a former ABC 20/20 producer who was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 27. Her ensuing memoir, reprinted in paperback this month ($13, St. Martin’s Griffin), details her journey to survival while using lipstick as a mood-booster and a symbol for hope. As an added incentive, a portion of proceeds from sales is donated to breast cancer research and education.

In The Beauty of Color (Putnam, $30), Iman the model/entrepreneur/wife of David Bowie seeks to redefine the phrase “women with skin of color” by breaking through stereotypes. Frustrated with the lack of makeup options for women with darker skin tones, Iman shares industry tricks so that ladies of all ethnicities can feel beautiful in their own skin. Plus, the book is filled with lush color photographs illustrating step-by-step instructions on how to “get the look” (we especially like the sultry “Ghetto Fab,” which pairs gold shadow with flashy fake lashes).

Makeup artist extraordinaire Bobbi Brown’s guide, Bobbi Brown Beauty Evolution (now available in paperback $18, HarperCollins), is a multi-generational look at beauty to help women of any age. Using non-models (which always makes us ordinary girls feel better) to illustrate her simple makeup application technique, Brown offers skincare tips, color advice, and details on what to purge and when to splurge. Her aim is to help us feel good about ourselves internally by helping us look better externally, while reminding us that the key to boosting self-esteem at any age is simply self-appreciation.