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Why this book about a geeky fashion model has been blazing a feminist trail

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Did you realise how much of a feminst banner the ‘Geek Girl’ series actually waves? With a title like ‘Head Over Heels’ and the core subject matter being about modelling and fashion, perhaps to the casual browser it might be easy to dismiss Holly Smale’s triumph.

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But we know you. We know you know that these books are so much more than the fun, lighter air that surrounds them. Try this. Imagine the first line of each book, that infamous starting point, and replace it with “My name is Harriet Manners, and I am a feminist.” And it works, right? Here’s why:

Holly Smale gives us a complex and addictive character in Harriet. She’s smart. She’s a little quirky. And she’s so ‘you’. You know? Like she has certain qualities that most teens and young adults can identify with.

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Harriet doesn’t want to be a model. This fact queen doesn’t really have a plan, does she? And then she gets scouted and her whole world is turned upside down. She’s thrown into a world dominated at the top by males, but kept afloat by the females it employs.

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And yes, yes. There are issues of equality on both sides in the fashion industry, however, what’s really refreshing is seeing it through Harriet’s perspective. She doesn’t jump on a soap box and start preaching. She flounders. She tries to make it work. She fails. She succeeds. And we get to see it all.

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Also, a quick note, isn’t it such a relief to have a story like this that is not overwhelmed by a romance? Don’t get us wrong. WE LOVE THE ROMANCE AND SWOONS! But it would undermine Harriet’s story, in a way.

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Harriet, her step mum, Natalie, just to name a small section of the female characters in this series that are doing it for themselves. But doing so without disregarding the important male figures in their lives. They make decisions independently, but aren’t afraid to show or act on their emotions either.

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Modelling is a difficult job. It really is! Not that we’ve got any first hand experience, not like the ‘Geek Girl’ author herself. But we’ve watched, we’ve seen, we’re aware. And what’s really interesting is how you can somehow be considered ‘less than’ for being into fashion and make up. What’s important about ‘Geek Girl’ is that Harriet does grow into it, it becomes something to her, a part of her, and yet she does not once lose her muchness.

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Harriet proves to her readers that you can just like what you want to like. That in owning up to your passions can help you become a more well rounded and happier person.

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Not to mention the way Harriet handles herself, in the face of really big decisions, that’s enough of a role model without all her other awesomeness.

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‘Head Over Heels’ and its predecessors might not be the most obvious feminist read, but therin lies its genius. You can sit back and binge read on this series and not feel like you’re being force fed a message or a theme. Harriet does what Harriet does, the same as any normal person. And we love her for it.

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‘Head Over Heels’ is out in paperback right here, right now. So what are you waiting for?

What do you think? What makes you a fan of the series? Let us know in the comments below!

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Written by Sarah Clare

Sarah is the Lead Writer and Design Queen here at Maximum Pop! Sarah holds an MA in Professional Writing from Falmouth University, and a BA in Creative Writing with English Literature from Marjon (BIG UP THE MARJON MASSIVE!). Sarah joined MP! after seeing an advertisement for writers on Instagram – because where else would a design master find their dream job?

Sarah is currently working on an expose on Draco Malfoy in her spare time. But not if his father hears about it.

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