Review – The secrets of my life

The secrets of my life by Caitlyn Jenner
Published: April 25th 2017 by Grand Central Publishing   
Genre: Biography, Non-fiction
Pages: 368

Caitlyn Jenner

Buzz Bissinger has written a jumbled and contradicting portrait of Bruce and Caitlyn Jenner. It all feels a little schizophrenic to me, and maybe it is. It rubs me the wrong way how Caitlyn compartmentalizes Bruce and takes no responsibility for the person she was before she transitioned. And still she speaks of being born the wrong gender and having felt this way her whole life. Well, then haven’t you been the same person since birth then and just now daring to show it to the public? I have a hard time understanding it.

“I know it would be great for the cameras for a tear to come to my eye. But there is really no sense of nostalgia for me. Bruce may be stuck here. And that’s fine. Caitlyn never was and never will be.”

Maybe it’s a coping mechanism and I can respect that. The problem surfaces when you start pointing fingers around. Bruce was clearly a miserable man with heavy demons on his back. If Caitlyn can help him carry that burden, then that’s great, but Caitlyn seems to just be pointing fingers at everyone else. Blaming just about anyone that has ever come in contact with Bruce.

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“Alan is determined that we own the story, and tell it the way we want to tell it. He doesn’t want a complete circus. The way he sees it, the 20/20 interview is saying goodbye to Bruce and Vanity Fair is saying hello to Caitlyn.”

I find this an interesting statement, since the book has been condemned by the Kardashians and labeled a complete lie. Has Bruce changed the narrative to help Caitlyn out, or has Caitlyn changed Bruces narrative to suit her own needs?

Bruce repeatedly spoke about hiding. “Since Kris screens my purchases, I use someone else’s debit card” he’s said. But Caitlyn claims that Kris knew and said it was no big deal.  

Bruce claims that he couldn’t come out since his family would never accept it, he would be labeled a freak and be humiliated. Caitlyn says her transitioning was well received by her family and brought them closer.

Bruce talks about the media labeling him as a freak, but Caitlyn is honored with great articles and front pages of the best magazines in the world! (I haven’t seen a single magazine labeling her a “freak”)

It seems the obstacles in his life are all created by Bruce, and Caitlyn sits and blames everyone except Bruce for not being able to come out sooner.

There’s even a passage blaming Africa, saying “I would like to go to Africa, although I know that my presence in many places would not be welcome” which feels to me like an attempt at getting sympathy. (Also, Africa is a continent consisting of 54 different countries so let’s not speak of it as if it only has one story! That’s just infuriating!) And it’s hard to feel sympathetic towards someone that seems to get everything handed to them at a silver platter and still complains about life being unfair. I don’t want to get into the amount of people struggling with these issues and others with no means to get any relief whatsoever.

I don’t think Caitlyn and her views serves the LGBTQ+ community with this book, but I don’t think it’s too late to still be a positive influence. She has a large platform where she can do a lot of good, but politically she leans right and she brags about not reading feminist literature. (I don’t even understand what that’s about.) We can only hope she matures with time.

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But the book wasn’t hopeless. There were some parts that might feel comforting or even inspiring for anyone out there going through the same. There’s issues that I’m sure everybody could have related to – like not fitting in, but Caitlyn narrows it so far that those become irrelevant. I think she would have reached out to a wider audience if she wasn’t so narrow minded and self absorbed.

The most interesting and human part of the book for me was when she told the stories about dressing up in secret and going out to starbucks. Hiding in plain sight. Those passages felt the most authentic. When she speaks about using crazy glue for a mini facelift and the wigs. Telling stories about her skin peeling off, but with humor and nostalgia instead of anger and resentment.

In the end I think she explained her own book best with this one simple passage:

“I don’t want to double the length of the book. But maybe it all boils down to this: Please, I am begging you, don’t ever let your life succumb to what others think. Do not give into fear, as I did for so many years.”

Contradicting. Contradicting. Contradicting.

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