Untamed by Glennon Doyle
Four years ago, Glennon Doyle—bestselling Oprah-endorsed author, renowned activist and humanitarian, wife and mother of three—was speaking at a conference when a woman entered the room. Glennon looked at her and fell instantly in love. Three words flooded her mind: There She Is. At first, Glennon assumed these words came to her from on high. Soon she realized that they came to her from within.
Glennon was finally hearing her own voice—the voice that had been silenced by decades of cultural conditioning, numbing addictions, and institutional allegiances. This was the voice of the girl Glennon had been before the world told her who to be. She vowed to never again abandon herself. She decided to build a life of her own—one based on her individual desire, intuition, and imagination. She would reclaim her true, untamed self.
Soulful and uproarious, forceful and tender, Untamed is both a memoir and a galvanizing wake-up call. It offers a piercing, electrifying examination of the restrictive expectations women are issued from birth; shows how hustling to meet those expectations leaves women feeling dissatisfied and lost; and reveals that when we quit abandoning ourselves and instead abandon the world’s expectations of us, we become women who can finally look at ourselves and recognize: There She Is.
I really enjoyed this book and think I’ll have to buy myself a copy and reread it at some point.
I am often wary of books that are marketed as “feminist self-help” because I find it’s become a bit of a buzzword the last few years. Whenever I see something pushed as “feminist self-help”, I assume it will be of the Girl Boss, white feminism, Rachel Hollis “Girl, Stop Apologizing” variety, which I am very much not interested in. This book also started with the message that “you’re a cheetah”, which had strong Girl Boss vibes. So I was hesitant going into this book.
Luckily, though, this book did not fall into that variety and was actually really great. I hesitate to call things “real feminism” because that would be dumb, but if there were such a concept, this book would definitely qualify. By that I mean that it really embraced a lot of feminist concepts: it discussed racism, how the patriarchy affects men, how we can encourage girls to be feminine and that that’s okay. Doyle had a lot of really great insights that I ended up really appreciating. Her chapter on racism, in particular, was fantastic, and I thought she did such a great job discussing how white women can address their white privilege and learn to shut up.
I think there is definitely something for everyone in this book. Whether you’ve read a lot of feminist ideologies or not, whether you’re a parent or not, whether you just need general self-help, I think you’ll get a lot out of this book.
One criticism I have is that it definitely read a bit like it expected you to already know who Glennon Doyle is. I knew nothing about her and hadn’t heard of her until I read this book. While this book isn’t a memoir or anything, she does draw a lot on her personal experiences. The book assumed you had read or knew about her previous books. So I was a little lost, and it took me a little longer to piece together some of the stories she was telling. So if you want to read this, I’d recommend looking at her Wikipedia page first or something.
The humour was a little out of place in some places, as well. It was really funny, and I often laughed out loud while listening to it, but there were some parts where the message would have been stronger had there been less or different humour. It felt like she was trying too hard to be ~relatable and quirky~ in some places.
ALSO this is a fairly little thing, but there were a couple parts of the book that went along this line:
My friend and I were having coffee the other day, and she mentioned that she/her son/her family was struggling with [issue]. I said to her, “[Glennon’s message that she wants the reader to get]”.
It always felt a little disingenuous to me. Like, I know you edited this conversation for the book, so it would be easier to read and to get the message across. But the way it was presented was odd. I would be thinking, “really, Glennon? You said this four page-long monologue to your friend?” It would have been better if it was presented like:
My friend and I were having coffee the other day, and she mentioned that she/her son/her family was struggling with [issue]. I said something really unhelpful, the type of thing you say in the moment. But, after being able to think on it for a few days, here is what I wish I had said: [message].
That would have felt a lot more genuine and natural.
All that being said, though, this was really well-written and super interesting. It will definitely be a book I buy for myself and read again soon, and I’ll probably buy it for several other people as well. I’d highly recommend it.
But have you read this book? What did you think? Was it on your radar? Are you similarly hesitant about feminist self-help? Do you have any recommendations? Let me know!