FEM: NEW MILLENNIUM BEAUTY & FASHION

Available at Ten Dollar Books and on amazon.

FEM is about coming of age in the new millennium. The Spice Girls taught me early on that femininity was fun and good. It was something to do. Then it became someone to be. From hair school to high heels, this book considers the function of beauty and fashion.

About the writer:

Rachel Wagner is a writer from New Jersey, currently living in Newark. She has two other non-fiction books out—Abandonment Issues: Alive in New Jersey and Back Like I Never Left: Dating as a Single Mother—plus poems and shorter prose pieces.

About the artist:

Nasreen Khan is an artist and writer living in Indianapolis by way of New York City. She grew up in West Africa and Indonesia and writes poetry to stay sane. She’s a lover of yellow roses and hard liquor and on a Friday night she can be found cooking various organ meats or chasing down a stellar mint julep.

Reviews:

Robin K.
This is easily my favorite out of Rachel’s books so far. I finished it then automatically re-read it, marking up not just one or two parts that I loved and wanted to return to, but eleven of them. Rachel looks at what it means to be female in a patriarchal society where fashion can be a statement of self, a representation of growth, a weapon, a method of control or a form of protection. There is exploration of the self in terms of presentation, location, mental state and situation and much of the content resonated with me as a reader more than anything Rachel has written before.
FEM is vibrant, raw, beautiful, funny, unexpectedly sad and dark at times and overall a fantastic piece of writing that I can’t recommend enough. I love this book.

Ashley Ganem
5.0 out of 5 stars
Musings on Identity and Femininity

I found fem extremely relatable, especially the essay, “No Panties No Bra.” Wagner discusses her fears about the effects of nursing on the body, the freedom that comes once she stopped nursing her son, and the return of her body, not only in its previous form but to retain possession of her self.
FEM also captures how our appearance is determined by external and internal impacts, how loss makes you disappear inside a hoodie, self-acceptance frees you to break certain fashion “rules” of modesty, and the prison system enforces a strict dress code to expand their controls.
This collection of essays landed on my doorstep on Sunday and I sat down and read it through cover to cover. I could not put it down, and neither will you.

Gregory Iannarella
5.0 out of 5 stars 
A great piece about love, fashion, femininity and self.
Don’t think local art and artists are still out there thriving? You’d be mistaken. Fem captures perfectly what it means to exist and grow in a space. It’s a very real look at what it means to be a woman, a single mom, in New Jersey, growing up, remembering childhood, remembering adolescence, and then finding yourself suddenly to be an adult.
It’s fun, funny, and sometimes, it hurts. And it all accumulates to a book that captures the vibrancy and complexity of life. If you like fashion, you’ll come and stay for the infinitely entertaining relationship the author has with dressing up and down depending on the situation, mood, or plan.

Stephen J. McKenzie
5.0 out of 5 stars 
Fashion and beauty are the sine qua non for Rachel Wagner’s latest book FEM.
Fashion and beauty are the sine qua non for Rachel Wagner in her latest autobiographical offering FEM. It’s the leitmotif that runs through her book. With various chapter headings such as “Cheap Dresses” “Rubber Heels” “The Life of Purple Mules” and “No Panties and No Bra” she chronicles daily life via clothing and appearance. Rachel’s wry sense of humor and blunt statements makes this book great fun to read. She pulls no punches along with astute life observations. The book is like a box of Godiva chocolates, each chapter a delectable truffle.
One of the chapters that I particularly enjoyed was “Rubber Heels.” It concerns the losing of the rubber tip on the bottom of a stiletto heel. Now, stiletto heels are notorious for their reputation as a shoe that is exceedingly uncomfortable for women to wear, but Rachel likes wearing them. That is, of course, until one of the little bottom rubber tips pops off and then both stride, and demeanor, become unbalanced. What I’m going to say, metaphorically speaking, is that, often, our lives can be affected by the smallest of daily events. Amusingly, she goes on to say “the crunch of the pavement onto a rubberless spike is the sound of $10 and sitting at the shoe repair with no shoes on for fifteen minutes.”
In conclusion I highly recommend Rachel’s book for the smart, funny, and entertaining style of writing that is uniquely her own.


RICARDO T.

5.0 out of 5 stars 
Knocked it out the park!
Amazing read! The book was not only entertaining but taught me a new way to view how style intercepts with all aspects of life. I know have a new outlook on women’s fashion. Thanks Rachel!

Nathalie
5.0 out of 5 stars 
Another must read!
This could very well be my favorite book by Rachel. Absolute page turner! It was witty, relatable, and just real