‘Showgirls’ star Elizabeth Berkley (!) writes a self-help book for girls
The mind boggles. What’s next? Weight loss tips from Paul Prudhomme? Marriage advice from Charlie Sheen? Graceful Retirement, by Bret Farve? Lady Gaga’s Guide to Elegant Deportment? Donald Trump’s Spirituality Handbook?
I could shoot the fish in this barrel the livelong day, and so could you. But Berkley, who played a robotic exotic dancer in Showgirls, has apparently remade herself into an expert on self-esteem for teenage girls while the rest of us weren’t paying attention.
Titled Ask Elizabeth, Berkley’s book is scheduled to come out next spring from Penguin Young Readers Group.
The story goes like this: Berkley’s husband, Greg Lauren (a soap actor-turned-successful artist and nephew of Ralph Lauren –really, I couldn’t make this stuff up), remarked that everywhere she went girls asked her for advice. Presto-change-o, before you know it, Berkley had a website and was, apparently, touring the country hosting self-esteem seminars with small groups of girls.
This raises more questions than it answers. To wit: Why would adolescent girls approach an actress who seems to have exactly one facial expression and share their most secret insecurities? (Visit her website, Ask-Elizabeth if you want to play the game “Find a second expression!”). How did these pioneering girls get access to Berkley? Is this story ever going to make sense?
I will give Berkley credit: Her website is cleverly constructed, if overly cute — but what do I know? Maybe it’s just the thing that appeals to teens confused about body image, dating, parents or whatever.
In the years since Berkley set up shop in 2006 as a guru for girls, she’s gained credibility with grown women. She’s been on TV with Oprah, “The View,” and elsewhere. Her website boasts testimonials from Hayden Panetierre, Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Garner, Fergie, Sarah Michelle Geller, Naomi Wolf (!) and other celebrities.
In the interests of investigative journalism, I examined Berkely’s site and it seems at least harmless, and possibly helpful. The only thing I could find objectionable (before I overdosed on the color pink and fled) is the explicit assumption today’s parents can’t relate to the pressures facing today’s girls (but a washed-up 37-year-old actress can).
This, of course, is hogwash. Girls have wrestled with the same pressures to be pretty, thin and compliant at least since the days of Evelyn Nesbit. The key problem isn’t that parents don’t understand kids, but that they don’t give them enough time and attention.
Otherwise, I seem to lack the standing to pass judgment on Berkley’s new career as a self-help avatar for girls. Does anyone out there have experience with her program? Is it possible for an actress who still looks like a teenager herself to be a good role model? Is your mind still reeling?