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Chloe Cullen
Chloe Cullen, author

Adult; Self-Help, Sex & Relationships, Psychology, Philosophy, Fashion; (Market)

Comparing ourselves to the flawlessly accomplished reminds us of how imperfect we personally are. We create a negative loop of constant dissatisfaction and distort reality to say we are nothing. And that, my friends, is the glamor of perfectionism. Perf: The Unspoken Flaws in a "Perfect" Culture explores what it really means to live in a culture that encourages “perfection.” This book uncovers the truth beneath the romanticized mindset of a perfectionist and their unrelenting quest to do, have, and be the best in the intersection of perfectionism, mental health, and mainstream culture. While Chloe unpacks The American Dream or socioeconomic institutions such as education and market-based economies, she jabs humor at her own perfectionism as a student, employee, family member, and partner. By exploring everything from celebrity examples like Billie Eilish, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Gordon Ramsay, to chicken parmesan recipes, to stand-up comedy, Perf points out where perfectionism becomes dangerous, despite larger cultural messages that tell us we need to earn our worth.

Semi Finalist

Plot/Idea: 10 out of 10
Originality: 10 out of 10
Prose: 9 out of 10
Character/Execution: 10 out of 10
Overall: 9.75 out of 10


Plot/Idea: Although modern America often jokes about people "being OCD" or tells people to "stop being such a perfectionist," these phrases can fly under the radar of societal conscious, and people are largely unaware of how devastating true perfectionism is for those who experience it. Cullen has written a delightfully real book exploring the many facets of perfectionism, and has revealed her own inner workings as a case study in and of itself. The vulnerability shown within this text will cause readers to feel safe within these pages. Readers who know little about anxiety and perfectionism will benefit from reading this book, as it will allow them to better understand their loved ones who do suffer from this. And readers who do know the prevailing perfectionist plague will find Cullen's book a refreshing look into their own psyches.

Prose:  The reader will greatly enjoy the prose and find it intellectually stimulating while also not difficult to grasp, and entertaining all the while. Occasionally the book can feel a bit stream-of-consciousness and even verge into rambling, which may have been very much intentional, as this book is all about delving into the mind of a perfectionist. Overall, the book is a joy to read, and will captivate readers with its diverse storytelling, anecdotes, and scientifically cited musings.

Originality: Cullen has cornered an unfortunately fairly empty part of the market. Although books on mental health abound, people generally seem to avoid writing books about anxiety, and especially the very specific type of anxiety associated with perfectionism. Cullen has written a revealing and important book that can be extremely useful for those wanting to learn about perfectionism, and for those who suffer from it.

Character Development/Execution: Cullen has produced an honest, occasionally self-deprecating, and often humorous look into America's obsession with perfection, specifically within the Millennials and Zoomers. Her frank prose regarding her own mental health and that of those who suffer from the endless need to be "perfect" can at times be uncomfortable, which, despite the icky feelings it can illicit, is welcomed. In a world that largely does not understand anxiety and how it affects those who are afflicted, it is wonderful to get a painfully accurate representation from not only one person who has been living with the plague of perfection, but many, as Cullen has provided numerous interviews and examples of perfectionism in modern culture, not to mention research from professional scholars and scientists. 


Date Submitted: December 23, 2021