Imagine what it would be like to grow up in a family of 19 children. Pretty crowed, probably. For the four eldest daughters of the Duggar clan it involves house work, insecurities, and saving themselves for marriage.
While I do not share the same religious or political beliefs as the Duggar Family (the Duggars are Independent Baptists) I have been known to binge watch a season when it marathons on TLC, and by the fifth episode I can recite all 19 names and guess if Jinger’s hair will be curly or straight during the episode.
But the new book by Jana, Jill, Jessa, and Jinger (yup Ginger with a J), delves deeper into the lives of the Duggar family and the pressures that the girls face growing up in such a large family. “Growing Up Duggar: It’s All About Relationships” sheds light on their relationships with their parents, siblings, boys and with God.
But the book doesn’t seem like it was written by the girls. Many Amazon users claim that it was written by Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, but with a few of the girls personal stories added in for good measure.
The book tackles issues within the family and the issues the girls have with society. It discusses topics like abortion, pornography, feeling pressures to look like their sisters and dating. Let us not forget the passage in which they “slut shame” other girls.
The girls talk about how they have a codeword (“Nike”) for their family when they see a girl who is too inappropriately dressed so that they can look down to avoid looking at her.
“That’s a signal to the boys, and even to Dad, that they should nonchalantly drop their eyes and look down at their shoes as we walk past her… It’s meant to help keep the guys’ eyes from seeing things they shouldn’t be seeing. By using the single-word signal, the warning can be given quietly and discreetly.”
It’s all about fighting temptation in way. The book expands on the facts that most viewers of their reality show “19 Kids and Counting” already know about the Duggar family. The girls can only wear skirts, they have date chaperones, and they don’t kiss before marriage.
But after the judgy/preachy passages they reveal that they sometimes have immoral thoughts about boys. How scandalous! They’re not much different from other young women their age. They are human after all.
In the book, the girls criticize the actions of girls who do not share their faith. They also take a nice jab at their mother, who was a cheerleader before meeting Jim Bob and then conformed to his faith.
She had no idea that dancing around in a short skirt in front of a bunch of boys was causing many of them to think sensual thoughts about her.”
In the end the girls reveal that, like other girls, they often have concerns about the way they look.’
“You may think that kids like the Duggars, who are homeschooled and don’t watch TV or read secular magazines, are immune from feelings like that, but we’re not! We’ve experienced some of those same negative feelings about the girl in the mirror that you may be feeling right now or have felt in the past.”
Overall, I found this to be an interesting read. And while some of the comments in the novel bothered me just a bit, I do enjoy learning about other perspectives on life.
The book has a strong message for all women, regardless of faith or political background, to hear.
By Ashley DeLuce