Book Review: If You Have To Cry Go Outside - And Other Things Your Mother Never Told You by Kelly Cutrone

“Look at the advent of Christianity, right? We like to say, look at Mary, she gets pregnant – she doesn’t even get to get fucked. Ya know? So with the advent of Christianity you see the demise of the female and the veiling of the female.”  — Kelly Cutrone, in an interview discussing the different aspects of her NY Times Bestseller If You Have To Cry Go Outside: And Other Things Your Mother Never Told You

I’ll be honest, I do not watch The Hills (beyond what I’ve unavoidably caught living with roommates over the years) or The City, and I have never seen an episode of Bravo’s Kell on Earth. Up until a month ago, my thoughts on fashion publicist Kelly Cutrone were that she is a fashion bitch, cloaked in all black who is surely superficial, since her professional world revolves around an industry of clothes and following trends.

Because of these preconceived notions, it was very unlikely that I would ever seek out and read her first book If You Have To Cry Go Outside — And Other Things Your Mother Never Told You, so, I didn’t. However, this was of no matter to the universe –- it would get this vessel of power-girl life advice on my nightstand whether I wanted it or not.

My best friend and I have a thing — it started when I moved thousands of miles away from her — we send each other books that we know the other person has to read in order to feel validated in the crazy way we sometimes see the world. Thus, shortly after its release in March, If You Have To Cry ended up in my mailbox and then tossed into my hands by my boyfriend who checked the mail that day.

After reading the New York Times Bestseller, it seems I could not have been more right — or more wrong — in my opinions on Cutrone. She IS a fashion bitch cloaked in black (bitch and black clothing being two things she openly embraces and dedicates sections of the book to); however, she is anything but superficial. Her book is a deeply thought-provoking account that weaves her blunt and unapologetically romantic philosophies on living life, following dreams and the programming of young American women, with her own life story, which is valid anecdotal evidence backing up all of her witty and no-bullshit advice.

Sprinkled throughout the book like sequins on a garment, Cutrone regularly addresses the mindset of so many young women in 21st-century America, describing it as a video game that has levels predetermined by society’s expectations, with our own mothers shoving the game controller into our hands.

Midway through, Cutrone goes into the details of the game, writing:

“It starts out in childhood with the Disney princesses, followed by the need to become the prettiest girl, the pop star, or the model, and then, in high school we’re told that it’s time to become the thinnest girl, then to become successful, find a guy, convince him to move in with us, get married, have a baby, and live happily ever after! (Hell, yeah!) We’re constantly moving from level to level, trying to collect the promised prizes, without stopping to think about the order we want these things to come in, or whether we even really want them at all. From Cinderella right on up to He’s Just Not That Into You, we’re inundated with programming that influences how and when we think we should experience various life steps and that makes it devastating when we find ourselves in another position all together … The unavoidable truth is that in the real world things don’t always come in the order we’re taught to expect them.”

For a female moving into her late twenties who has 100 percent ended up “in another position all together,” this revelation of Kelly’s makes one stop reading all together, set the book on your lap and reflect that someone has just put the chaos of your deepest thoughts into clear perspective through an eloquently written paragraph utilizing a most effective metaphor.

Seamed in with Cutrone’s theories regarding the pitfalls of modern female grooming is her unparalleled life journey, which she uses to justify her viewpoints and as evidence that women do not have to do everything in a set order and can, in fact, successfully forge their own paths.

“It wasn’t until I’d been married twice, then got divorced, then got pregnant and then finally got white furniture, that I realized you can do things out of order, but we weren’t prepared and we’d been veiled,” Cutrone said in an interview regarding the book and its subject matter.

Her down-to-earth advice is juxtaposed by her life experiences, which are the stuff small town girl’s dreams are made of. Cutrone takes readers from her childhood in a small upstate New York town (pop., about 5,000); to her decision to move to Manhattan, which was against everything her parents thought a young girl should do; to running out of money and ending up homeless in Times Square; to crashing on writer and NYC socialite Antony Haden-Guest’s couch; to becoming a PR girl for entertainment and lifestyle publicist Susan Blond and Spin magazine; to the depths of a drug habit and dingy hotel rooms while living in California (“I had joined the underworld of people who are alive, but not living"); to meeting a stranger in a drug haze who cast a guru spell and brought Cutrone into the world of The Mother, an Indian Guru, resulting in the demise of her drug habit; to marrying and subsequently divorcing Andy Warhol's protege; to getting into fashion publicity through a vintage California shop, which only lead her back to the Big Apple to eventually start People’s Revolution and become a famous fashion publicist, appearing in television shows and writing books; to being a forty-something single working mother. A totally whimsical tale that is inspiring and compelling to read.

Her insights from all of this life-living and road-less-traveled journeying deals with everything from soul-searching to how to write a cover letter and work in a professional environment; to starting your own religion; to faking it 'til you make it; creating your brand and what values you associate yourself with; to going outside if you have to cry because you effed something up at work and your boss is pissed.

Cutrone's views on crying and establishing yourself as a professional power girl are pretty much the same as Tom Hank’s in A League of Their Own: “There’s NO Crying in BASEBALL! There’s NO Crying in BASEBALL! There’s no crying!”

Like I said earlier, there was no reason for me to read this book, but because I have friends who, like me, constantly question the expectations of the video game versus our intuitions, it ended up in my mailbox. From the Introduction chapter called “Are You There, Babe? It’s Me, Your Soul” I could not put it down, soaking up Cutrone’s wise female philosophies like a wilting plant does water.

You know when you are in a packed bar, and the ventilation sucks, but smoking is still allowed, so this hazy cloud forms and your eyes start to burn and the music is loud so you have to yell and breath in all the smoke –- it always feels so nice to step outside and let the sting go from your eyes and fresh air in your lungs. That is what this book is like for women who get stuck in the hazy questioning of their crowded minds, with thoughts that repeat themselves on high volume, wondering if we are doing shit in the right order. And what Cutrone tells readers is that there is no order and to ask the question: Where the eff did this notion of doing things in these levels even come from, and is it what I really want or need?

Kelly Cutrone may be from an industry of trends, but her book clearly advises young women -– whether in fashion or in life –- not to follow trends and what everyone says you should do, but to set trends and forge your own path.

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