Girls are competing with each other to see who can take the perfect photo, hoping to be judged favourably so they can move up the rankings and increase their chance of being picked as future partners by young men. They’re told there’s always room for improvement and they’re chastised for being too fat or too thin for the Inheritants.
This is the sort of thing eves like freida and isabel have to deal with on a daily basis in Only Ever Yours. It’s a grim situation for all involved as these characters have to go through 16 years of preparation for the day when their ultimate fate will be decided. The big prize is to become a companion, a wife to a man with some kind of status. It’s either that or spend your days as a concubine or a chastity.
They’re doing everything to turn themselves into the perceived view of what a man wants a woman to look like. They spend their days on social networks and celebrity gossip sites and in Organised Recreation. It’s ghastly and horrific and it’s certainly not far removed from the modern reality and the huge pressures laid down by society. The characters are willing to step over each other in order to get ahead and ensure they’ll secure what they see as a decent future for themselves.
Louise O’Neill has created a bleak world but the book serves as a fine commentary on modern situations. It’s a great read but I think it could really have a big impact on readers a bit younger than myself as I imagine the themes could really resonate with young women facing similar pressures.