Polish Your Poise with Madame Chic by Jennifer L. Scott
Best for: People who like etiquette books and who are looking for a quick read.
In a nutshell: Author continues to stretch the semester she spent in Paris into a lifestyle brand.
Line that sticks with me: “Also think (and pause) before you speak.” Seriously, I need to be reminded this daily.
Why I chose it: I’ve been picking up a lot of fairly heavy books lately. Even though I didn’t like her previous book, I felt like giving it another chance.
Books like this can be challenging to review. On the one hand, there are some great tips in here that I will be working to incorporate into my actions to improve my life. On the other, I find the writing stilted, and some of the tips needlessly conservative if not a bit classist (and, in a couple of cases, casually and likely unintentionally racist). I’m also still fascinated by the fact that these tips come from a six-month period the author spent in Paris a good decade ago at least.
The tips that will be useful, to me, are reminders around things like posture and how I interact with other people. I think the way she chooses to share those tips is thoughtful and applicable to life. And she has taken care this go round to point out that one can still carry oneself well regardless of body shape or size, or of access to funds. I appreciate that.
However. Her idea of what denotes poise wavers on the edge of being overwhelmingly white. Her examples of laudable and poise-filled films are overwhelmingly white, as is her list of celebrities to admire (save Denzel Washington). She also makes an ignorant comment about twerking. It seems as though she didn’t submit the book for sensitivity reading.
She also has, in my opinion, a misplaced distaste for cursing. I refuse to sign onto the idea that people should remove the words ‘fuck,’ ‘ass,’ and ‘shit’ from their vocabulary if they don’t want to, and I don’t believe they have any less poise than someone who says “gosh darn it.”
I think my reviews of her books are likely overly harsh because this is a genre I’ve spent so much time reading. I think that many people will find this book entertaining and useful, and there’s nothing wrong with that.