Book: Unfiltered: No Shame, No Regrets, Just Me
Author: Lily Collins
Not all celebrity memoirs are created equal. The most impressive ones are written by artists who have interesting, intriguing stories and experiences to share, and are willing to candidly discuss tales from their unusual lives. The least impressive ones come from celebrities who don’t have much to say and just seem to be cashing in on their fame by putting together a dull volume.
Lily Collins’ book, unfortunately, falls in the latter category.
The 28-year-old daughter of English musician Phil Collins published her first book, Unfiltered: No Shame, No Regrets, Just Me, earlier this year. Part memoir, part self-help manual, the slim volume sees the British-American actor coming up with a collection of lacklustre, trite essays that try to give the illusion of being deep but in reality barely scratch the surface of the subjects they examine.
Collins’ romantic struggles, family issues, and insecurities are briefly mentioned in the book, none in a way that would give you a complete or clear look at any of these facets of her life. She writes about initially being insecure about her eyebrows, dating an addict, being ghosted by her boyfriends, her close relationship with her mother, and her father’s battle with alcoholism, but does not discuss these topics in a satisfying way.
The one issue she does open up about is her battle with eating disorders. The actor struggled with anorexia and bulimia in her teens, and was overly focused on losing weight, restricting what and how much she ate, binging and purging, and even becoming addicted to diet pills and laxatives during an emotionally unstable time in her life. She has since overcome her eating issues, in part by delving into cooking and baking, and says that she makes “progress with [her] disorders” with “every passing day”.
While sharing snippets from her life, the actor also tries to inspire her readers to love and value themselves, encouraging them to “embrace [their] differences as things that make you unique and special”, speak up and be more assertive, be more open and communicative, and turn their shortfalls into triumphs.
But none of her inspirational words ever rise above generic clichés. It’s a relentless onslaught of platitudes and hackneyed, worn out ideas delivered with absolutely no originality or creativity. As a result, everything she says starts to sound like meaningless tripe that does not make an impact on the readers or help them better themselves in any significant way.
If there is any original thought in Lily Collins’ head then she hasn’t bothered to include it in this book. Everything she mentions has been written more eloquently and convincingly in countless books before, and the actor adds nothing new to the discussion. Nor does she give you a particularly candid, close look at her professional or personal life (aside from her battle with eating disorders).
If you want a straightforward take on her life as a young woman trying to make it in Hollywood and the daughter of one of the world’s most famous musicians, then you’ll find the lack of details in this book very disappointing. If you want to find out more about her budding acting career, like her experiences from the sets of The Blind Side or Mirror Mirror or how she feels about the failure of The Mortal Instruments series, then this isn’t the book for you as none of that is discussed in Unfiltered. And if you want to read an inspirational tome that encourages you to love yourself, then you’d be wise to pick any of the countless other books that have been written on the topic, most of which are significantly better than this one.
It also doesn’t help that Collins just isn’t a good writer. She doesn’t know how to structure her thoughts or convey her ideas coherently. Even though she is 28 years old, her voice comes off as that of a teenager who is writing for teen readers. Only very young girls are likely to find any of the material in this book revelatory or inspirational, although even the majority of them might find some of the things she says unrelatable.
For instance, she writes that when she was studying at school, her mother used to take her to the countries – from India to places in Africa – that she was learning about because “the best way to learn [about different places is] to immerse ourselves in the cultures and experience them as locals do”, and seems oblivious to how privileged her upbringing has been or how unpractical this idea is for the majority of us who simply do not have the means to do so.
Ultimately, all Unfiltered proves is that repeating corny clichés does not make for a compelling read. Only her diehard fans will appreciate this effort as it will give them a quick glimpse at her life and thoughts. Everyone else will be better off giving this volume a pass, as it lacks substance, details, originality, and just about everything that makes a book interesting.