I don’t know about you, but I was never really into reading magazines. Sure, I like to occasionally peruse through the pages of a tabloid while waiting in line at the grocery store or waiting for my hair to dry at the hairdresser (during pre-COVID times, RIP), but magazine writing never really spoke to me — it was just mindless reading to pass the time. Now, I really don’t remember when I was introduced to the delightful, powerful woman that is Zara Barrie, but I was definitely captivated by her unique and authentic writing style; she writes with a certain flair that makes me either smile or laugh hysterically.

According to her website, Barrie is “the former Senior Sex & Dating writer for ‘Elite Daily,’ the current senior writer at ‘GO Magazine’ and founder of ‘The Dirty Beauty,’ a wellness blog for bad girls. She identifies as a mascara lesbian and lives beyond her means in New York”. See what I mean about the flair? She possesses a certain charm that reaches down to the way she words her bio. 

Although I was surprised at myself for genuinely enjoying a magazine article, I didn’t think anything of it or Zara Barrie and moved on with my life. It was purely by accident that I found out about her newly published book, “Girl, Stop Passing Out in Your Makeup,” over the summer. It was released on May 19, 2020 and has received raving reviews ever since. Quite uncharacteristically, I impulsively ordered the book on Amazon; it’s a big deal for a high fantasy loving, heavy metal listening accounting student/radio DJ to pick up a nonfiction self-help-esque book and thoroughly enjoy it. 

As soon as you pick up this book, like literally, and read the first few lines of the foreward, you will be hooked; I simply guarantee it. Barrie has a way of captivating readers through her writing style because she has the ability to connect with them on a deeper level, something I find very important when it comes to writing. Much like how I feel drawn to Lana Del Rey’s music, Barrie’s writing speaks to her audience because it’s witty, lighthearted and authentic, even though she often deals with heavy topics. She gives it to you in straight up real talk and no sugar coating, but in a way where you feel loved and supported and empowered by what she has to say. 

I also wrote a review of Lana Del Rey’s audiobook, “Violet Bent Backwards Over The Grass.” Photo: Ally Urban

There are too many well-written verses I could quote in this review, but here’s an important one that ultimately sets the tone for the book: “I’m here to serve as your big-sister guide and will help you, little sister, navigate the dark and stormy waters of adulthood. I’m going to provide you with the razor-sharp real AF kind of advice only a real big sister can provide”. 

Even if you’re not on the market for anything along the lines of a self-help book, I urge you to give this a read. It’s real, meaningful, and deals with the raw, messy realities of the world as well as the beauty of our lives (and if that doesn’t sell you, she’s also a huge Lana fan so do with that information what you will).

There are 22 chapters of inspirational words, empowering affirmations, thought-provoking anecdotes and so much more. Some of the many topics Barrie addresses in the book include mental health, prescription medication, body image, toxic relationships, relationships in general, sexuality…the list goes on and on. My point is, she writes about the trials and tribulations of life and brings awareness to topics that are probably considered taboo and too ghastly for the dinner table. We’re all fighting our own battles and it’s freeing to take a leap into the abyss and touch upon some of the issues people often face. I know that not everybody is ready to do that and that’s OK, but it’s comforting to know that Barrie (metaphorically) takes your hand and fearlessly guides you toward the path of self-healing and empowerment in the best way that a writer can. 

Something else I really liked is that the chapters have very witty and memorable titles. I can look at Chapter 13, “Praying to Lana Del Rey”, in the table of contents and instantly remember what that section was about (but I won’t spoil it because you should read it for yourself). “Confessions of a Reckless Spender” is also a chapter that speaks to me on a deeper level; the book is almost like an encyclopedia of life advice, but not the fake or useless advice people sometimes give us. There’s also a shorter “PSA” chapter after every two chapters which I felt was a good way to check in with the reader. Barrie’s consistent use of second person point of view also helps you feel comforted by and connected to her writing (and you can’t beat her smoothly woven-in sense of humour!). 

Not only are the chapters profoundly written and well organized, but Barrie chose songs to accompany each chapter — something I found to be very clever. The playlist is available on her Spotify account, and she notes that listening to the songs while reading offers a different experience and perspective. I haven’t read the book in this manner yet but plan on doing so. 

On that note, the audiobook version is coming soon! Barrie recently updated fans via Instagram that she had been in the studio and finished recording everything. She also mentioned that even reading and hearing her own writing out loud gave her a different experience, so I’m looking forward to adding another audiobook into my listening rotation.

I wholeheartedly recommend giving “Girl, Stop Passing Out in Your Makeup” a read. Wherever you are in life, you might benefit from the wise words of Zara Barrie, the big sister I never had and never knew I needed. Copies are available for purchase through retailers like Amazon and Barnes and Nobles, or directly from the publishers, Simon and Schuster.