Living the Confidence Code: Real Girls. Real Stories. Real Confidence.

Image of Living the Confidence Code: Real Girls. Real Stories. Real Confidence.
Release Date: 
February 23, 2021
HarperCollins Children
Reviewed by: 

“Girls need encouragement to be confident. The world needs girls to be confident. Start teaching them how. Start teaching them now.”

It is hard to believe that in our modern day of women’s liberation and feminist equality there would be a need for a book such as this. But clearly, there is. For every one of the 30 stories included in this book, surely there are hundreds (if not thousands) more to choose from.

Hats off to Kay, Shipman, and Riley for using their public voices to raise awareness of a hard to pinpoint but universal characteristic of humanity: confidence. Living the Confidence Code joins other titles by Kay and Shipman in the same vein, The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Awareness—What Women Should Know and The Confidence Code for Girls: Taking Risks, Messing Up, and Becoming Your Amazingly Imperfect, Totally Powerful Self. 

This confidence project digs into the definition of confidence, the foundation of confidence, and the resilient nature of confidence. Living the Confidence Code condenses the work done in the earlier titles and kicks off with an introduction explaining how confidence is the one thing that women and girls around the world struggle with and which the primarily male socio-cultural systems prey upon. Confident women are successful women. Successful women pose a threat. By taking away confidence, threat ameliorated. And it all starts in girlhood years, making it even harder for grown women to rise above.

“Confidence is what turns our thoughts into action . . ..” the, “Confidence Code Recipe: Risk more, think less, be yourself.” “Risk more,” encourages girls to “try, try, try,” even when something is intimidating, even if one might fail, because the act of trying builds confidence.

“Think less” doesn’t mean don’t use one’s brain, but instead refers to stopping the negative voices telling all the reasons NOT to try. It implores girls to limit overthinking, or “letting negative thoughts derail you from what you want.”

“Be yourself” is the invitation to find an internal source of strength where confidence is born and nurtured. Confidence in one’s heart, mind and soul translates into a life of action, contribution, wellness, and growth. It is critical to not let this be trampled by discouragement.

After perusing a brief explanation of the design of the book, and the concepts of confidence building blocks (risk, failing, rebounding, resilience, authenticity) and quicksand (fear, overthinking, perfectionism, people-pleasing, stereotyping) readers are off and into a deep dive of very personal struggles.

We meet girls from all parts of the globe, from different cultures and economic backgrounds, with vastly different challenges surrounding them. Girls like Sam Gordon, who loves soccer and tackle football and fought to start a girls’ football league in her home town, Salt Lake City, UT. We witness how, in spite of Title IV laws guaranteeing equal opportunity to sports, girls’ teams still have a long way to go to reaching the level of funding and coaching that boys’ teams receive.

We meet “Dexa” from Nepal, who is horrified by the stigma of menstruation that keeps girls out of school during their periods. Girls are locked in their homes for days at a time, which makes it nearly impossible for them to keep up with schoolwork, allowing the boys to get so far ahead in their studies that it perpetuates the stereotype of girls not being smart enough to do anything besides cooking and household chores. Dexa faces an uphill battle in speaking out, raising awareness, and educating other girls. At age 16, she was invited to host a radio program for the International Day of the Girl so that girls all over Nepal could hear her voice.

Lan Vo and Linh Dang have experienced the intimidation of girls and women that is rampant in the streets of their home city, Hanoi, Vietnam. Together they are speaking out for safe cities where everyone can walk without feeling threatened and without needing a male chaperone. Their message is: “Cities for girls equals cities for everyone.”

While overcoming obstacles may seem to be what’s necessary to building confidence, sometimes it’s just a matter of living the life one chooses to live. Letting girls think for themselves is a huge message of this book. Adelle Pritchard had a dream of opening her own crepe business. As a tweenager, most parents would have told her to keep dreaming, go to business school and maybe someday her dream would become reality. Adelle’s parents, instead, encouraged her to go for it and walked the journey of opening up a crepe restaurant in Chattanooga, TN.

Dozens more stories await the reader in Living the Confidence Code. It is with a sense of urgency that the authors tell us there is no time to wait. Girls need encouragement to be confident. The world needs girls to be confident. Start teaching them how. Start teaching them now.