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Comforting common sense, woman to woman

Mala Bhargava | Updated on August 18, 2021

Busy bee: This book is meant for women like Anya Hindmarch: Busy, tackling one challenge after another

A companionable book filled with personal advice shared with honesty

* “I have learnt and truly believe is that emotion is a female superpower and if women have an edge in business, it is in fact often because they do bring emotion to the workplace”

* This book is refreshingly devoid of psycho-babble. And it’s a relief. Hindmarch doesn’t pretend to be an expert either. She just has experiences to share that she believes helped her through her own mistakes in life

* If in Doubt Wash Your Hair will give women a lot to think about. It is best to grab one’s pencil and be ready to underline

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Every woman knows just how much better she feels when she washes her hair. Especially about herself. Author Anya Hindmarch knows how this simple routine act can make one become “glintier-eyed” more confident and better able to cope and respond. It isn’t the only everyday advice she has for women, and her book If in Doubt, Wash Your Hair: A Manual for Life is certainly not about hair-care. It’s a little companion of a book filled with sage advice and there’s something on every page to make you nod your head in instant understanding.

If in Doubt, Wash Your Hair: A Manual for Life / Anya Hindmarch / Bloomsbury / Non-fiction / ₹620

 

This book is meant for women like Hindmarch: Busy, tackling one challenge after another, going through each day with a thousand things to do and just as many things to be stressed over. Hindmarch obviously takes her own advice because she more than holds it together despite being mother to five children, a hotshot handbag designer, a businesswoman with plenty to manage, and an author. Her net worth is estimated at $20 million, which gives a fairly good idea of just how busy her life must be. With no time for deep over-thinking and abstruse concepts, the author shares with other women how she manages her life and she does so in a way that is easy for a women to relate to readily. This isn’t exactly a self-help book as it doesn’t present you with sure-shot formulae and action points to get your own life in order. At the same time it isn’t a biography as it doesn’t merely tell the story of the author’s life. If in Doubt Wash Your Hair is a personal conversation in which common sense is shared, that too with a sense of empathy and humour.

As with any book filled with advice, it may not be easy to read at one go, despite the language being light and easy. It is better read in bits, perhaps a chapter at a go, taking away the life-lesson encapsulated and giving it some thought. The reader can actually choose to pick up from any chapter but no matter what point one reads from, a few sentences down, a recognisable problem will pop up. Lack of enough quality sleep, your children’s homework and projects, someone to regretfully fire, and so on. On top of that, there is always the unhelpful attitude of those around. “Woman are accused of being emotional all too often,” writes Hindmarch, “Most of us immediately feel silly and girly as though we have high squeaky voices. But I don’t have a high squeaky voice, and I’m not silly or girly... I have learnt and truly believe is that emotion is a female superpower and if women have an edge in business, it is in fact often because they do bring emotion to the workplace. A growing business is built on emotion. That moment made me vow never to take the emotion out of anything ever again.”

This book is refreshingly devoid of psycho-babble. And it’s a relief. Hindmarch doesn’t pretend to be an expert either. She has experiences to share that helped her through her mistakes in life and that she feels women might very much want to think about. One of those experiences include how her mother-in-law gave her an important nugget of wisdom: “If you are happy, your children will be happy”. Hindmarch went ahead and embraced this piece of advice. Another she never forgot was from a nun: “If you accept that you will never be fully satisfied, then you will be very happy indeed.” The author shares how such pieces of advice have contributed to living a better life.

An aspect of the author’s life that will resonate strongly with Indian women is the importance of family. “A supportive family can act like a ready-made social services department, there for you when you’re ill, if you’re in financial difficulty, and in old age, “ she says. Making the family ‘hum’ is a constant work-in-progress but one can draw upon the strength of people around one. She speaks of the challenges of trying to ensure her step-children, who had suffered bereavement, were made to feel secure and loved, tackling a child’s nightmares, and much more, all while multi-tasking and juggling different aspects of life.

If in Doubt Wash Your Hair will give women a lot to think about. It is best to grab one’s pencil and be ready to underline or better still read on a Kindle and one-tap all the notes one wants. Or indeed just open at any page again and again.

Published on August 18, 2021

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