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Beautiful: A Girl's Trip Through the Looking Glass Hardcover – February 11, 2014
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About the Author
Marie D'Abreo is a writer, illustrator and graphic designer who grew up in Sussex, England. She received her bachelor's degree from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design and later studied psychology at the California Institute of Integral Studies. She resides in San Francisco, California.
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Beautiful is a black and white graphic novel that successfully explores the popular saying "beauty is the inside" through the character of Lily, a young woman who does want to be different from who she is to be considered beautiful and more lovable by people in general and by men in particular. The book has a few chapters, each one preceded by a motivational quote on inner beauty.
D'Abreo's drawing style is very polished and minimalist BW with a predominance of white, therefore, very airy and luminous. There is a minimal but effective use of backgrounds and some fantasy-like elements, like the description of the true self or her inner critic, which are resolved with great imagination but with the same simplicity. However, this a style or artistic option, as D'Abreo can truly draw.
Most of the story in Beautiful happens in Lily's head, in other words, it is Lily's endless mind chatter. However, there is also some human interaction, mostly with her best friend, the cool Tag. Lily is a likeable character from the beginning, mostly because you have had that sort of chatter sometime in your life, you have it right know, or you know somebody who does. Like most teens and young women nowadays, Lily lives under the tyranny of being photo-perfect for social media and for men. The fashion industry and the media help to convey the idea that you need to be perfect, have better looks, better hair, better clothes, less kilos, more kilos, a different attitude, a fake pose, or simply to be different from who you really are.
The story is great at presenting the sort of self-talk that reflects this sort of dysfunctional look at the self but is not merely descriptive, and shows how to recognise your negative nagging voice and to how to approach it. In that regard, the ending is great, and coherent with the message of the story. When you are yourself and aren't afraid of showing it, people see your beauty without having to change anything about you.
Beautiful is easy to read and I find it particularly good for pubescent and teenage girls, but not only then, for any woman with self-image and insecurity issues. Charming and right to the point, I read it in a sitting.