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Be “Your Own Kind of Girl” in 2021: A book review of Clare Bowditch’s memoir

Audiobook cover of Your Own Kind of Girl by Clare Bowditch. The cover has a picture of a younger Bowditch in light blue one-piece swimmers and sunglasses.

Clare Bowditch became famous for her singing and songwriting in Melbourne, Australia from the early 2000s. She also went on to be an actress in a nationally famous T.V. series Offspring. Of course I had heard of her music, but I never really grew up listening to her songs. Similarly, I am not one for watching T.V. so I also missed Offspring when it was popular on T.V. So you might be wondering why I would be reading a memoir about a woman, who I didn’t know much about.

Since spending a long time overseas, I have been trying to reacquaint myself with what it means to be Australian. I am still trying to figure it out, but one of the ways I have tried to reconnect with my country is through reading Australian authors of all kinds. In reading, I feel like I learn more about what it means to be Australian in all the varied and beautiful ways that can unfold. I also feel like I learn cultural references I missed when I was away, along with being able to remember unique Australian cultural experiences that felt like a lifetime ago.

Bowditch’s memoir is also filled with music and other fun audio from throughout her life. Similarly to Tegan and Sara’s memoir High School (which I reviewed here), I wanted to listen to the memoir rather than read, so I could listen to all the musical bits along the way. And I can say, straight away, that it is well worth it. Bowditch has a really relaxing voice and it honestly feels like you are sitting down with a friend.

Bowditch talks about her early struggles with grief and loss after her sister Rowena passes away. She talks about how she held a lot of guilt and shame after Rowena’s death as she struggled to process the loss. Society often thinks that kids don’t understand a lot of what happens in the adult world. But let me tell you they do. They feel every emotion that an adult can feel, and it can sometimes be worse for kids because they have not yet been taught to name those feelings. Bowditch talks about her journey in understanding the emotions she felt as a child and how they stayed with her through her adulthood.

Bowditch also opens up about the struggles with her body and her weight as she grew up. Her relationship with food and weight compounded by doctors ‘trying to help’ only seemed to make things worse for her. I really felt for Bowditch in those moments of the memoir because it was something, I too, could relate too. I remember being around 16 and being told that my BMI was too high. The doctor didn’t ask me about my very active life. The doctor didn’t take into account my height or build. The doctor told me it would be ideal if I could lose about 8 kilos. I wish I could go back in time and kick that doctor in the face.

Lastly, Bowditch talked a lot about her struggles with being a musician, believing in herself, finding the courage to perform, and finding the strength to fight for what she wanted in life. She talked about the myth of the struggling poor artist – as though forcing artists to go through poverty and mental health crises is the only path to success. Bowditch posits the question, “Why aren’t we supporting artists?” and this is a question I have asked my whole life. We expect creative people to give their work out for nothing and then complain when they have no money for food or rent? I could honestly rant about this for a whole blog post, but I will spare you today, reader.

Ultimately, Bowditch’s memoir was not the book I was expecting, but gosh was it a pleasant surprise to listen to in this god awful year, 2020. I am hoping to take on some of Bowditch’s pearls of wisdom as we go into 2021 and encourage you to do the same. What memoir surprised you in 2020? As always, share the reading love.