Yes, I've read the book. Haven't we all? For some reason, women desire to be the perfect everything. And if we don't desire it consciously and strategically as some of us do, somewhere in our subconscious there is a voice that talks quietly to us in those moments of angst (should I blow-dry my hair this morning if I'm staying in all day? Should I? What if someone knocks at the door? What if I have to pop down to the shop for milk? What if someone saw me with...unstyled hair!).
My voice comes from my mother. It was planted deep in my mind at a young age as I used to watch her prepare for her days, at an age when I asked questions of everything. "Mommy, why do you wear make-up?". "Mommy, why don't you wear your pink shoes with your red dress?".
The voice was then fertilised and cultivated during my early teenage years when I started making my own efforts at perfection. This time the questions were asked of me: "You're not really going out looking like that are you?". "What happened to your eyes? You look like you've been in a car accident."
I also watched how my mother kept house; how she looked at (and commented on) other women's houses; and then later I watched my friends and saw how they all had the same thoughts, even though they acted on them in different ways.
During the last few years I have thought long and hard about what perfection is, and I have decided that it is different for every woman. I have found some great books by women who have been through this process. India Knight writes beautifully on women's themes. Try to steer clear of the books that imply everything can be perfect all the time. By all means read them as a foray into fantasy, and escape from reality if you like. But what is key is to find what perfection is for you. It is the state of things that satisfies the inner voice. I have had to learn to shut down certain thoughts and phrases, to filter out input from sources that feed my angst, and allow in words that bolster my enthusiasm and confidence. Perfection for me is calm, peace and beauty. That is what I work towards every day and it is a joy when I see glimpses of it in my home. I expect it will be a lifetime of trying.