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the daily review, tue., aug. 30

Lisa Bloom makes a point.handout

Lisa Bloom is fed up with the current kingdom of dumbdom, where "young women would rather be hot than smart, middle-aged women are too busy to think, and older women are exhausted and just want to zone out."

As one of the top five celebrity attorneys in Los Angeles, Bloom spends 95 per cent of the time talking about celebrities such as Lindsay Lohan and Charlie Sheen. Concerned about "a culture that had made some strange left turns," Bloom decided to refocus on more important issues and write a book that would help women achieve balance in their lives.

In Think, Bloom jolts us out of our complacency with some alarming facts and statistics:

Twenty-three per cent of women aged 18 to 34 would rather lose their ability to read than lose their figure; in the United States, breast augmentation surgery has gone up 36 per cent each year since 2000; forty per cent of these surgeries result in complications within three years; women account for 80 per cent of all foot surgery, largely because of our culture's insistence that high heels are sexy; during the 2008 campaign, Sarah Palin's makeup artist was paid more than her foreign policy expert.

While Bloom devotes the first half of the book to discussing the problems, she offers practical and easy-to-implement solutions in the chapter Reclaiming the Brains God Gave Ya. According to Bloom, the main challenge involves creating more time to think. She advises women to re-examine their attitudes about housework and child-rearing. She stresses the fact that housework is not women's work and should be either farmed out or shared among all members of the household. She keeps the cooking very simple and provides us with a few of her un-recipes, "ideas for throwing things together and having a nice healthy dinner that people will savour, without exhausting yourself night after night."

She is also concerned about the women who "unnecessarily drain themselves managing every minute of their kids' leisure time." She is a strong proponent of giving children free time. She advises women to let the children hang out in their rooms (safely) with books, blocks, paper and crayons.

Bloom suggests that we stop reading tabloids and "read, read constantly, read the good stuff, read promiscuously … then read some more." She provides a recommended reading list and urges us to "cross-read." That is, pick up books that challenge our points of view.

She reminds us that for a small amount of money ($20), we can send girls to school for an entire year in countries such as Rwanda, Ethiopia and India. As First World women, she says, we have an obligation to pay it forward to Third World women. Alternatively, we can use our "fat new brains" to improve conditions for battered women, veterans or homeless people in our own communities.

Funny and inspiring, Lisa Bloom skillfully weaves personal anecdotes, poll and survey results and sound logic into her narrative. Often, the tone is self-deprecating; she admits to her own foibles. When travelling in Morocco, she was forced to rethink her views regarding covered women in other cultures. Dressed in a jelaba (a nightgown-like, long-sleeved garment that covers cotton pants) and headscarf, with no makeup, she felt comfortable and less constricted as she hiked through the countryside in the middle of a hot, Moroccan summer.

And when she co-hosted Court TV, she went in an hour earlier than her male co-host to sit for hair and makeup.

Joanne Guidoccio is a writer living in Guelph, Ont.