The start of a new year means a new slate. Many take the opportunity to try something different, especially when it comes to health. You may be considering dieting or setting a goal for weight loss.
The pressure to get in shape or lose weight during the holidays is significantly higher at the start of the year. As a woman, I feel the added obligation to stay slim. I started to wonder what other women had to say about the demands of losing weight and dieting.
I have scoured the internet and my library for the best books on the body, written by women who understand the burden of societal expectations. I read reviews from other well-known authors, critics and media and researched what other bookworms had to say. From these reviews, I have compiled this list of the most popular and famous books about loving your own body.
That youris to work out, to try a new diet, to become more accepting of yourself or just to read, these books are for all of us.
Writer, teacher and avid Twitter user, Roxane Gay published her seventh book and first memoir, Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body, in 2017. It quickly became a New York Times bestseller for his honesty about gaining weight and struggling with it. food, health and body image.
I currently have two other Roxane Gay books in my library: Bad Feminist and Not That Bad. Both are a collection of essays by Gay and other contributing writers. I’m a fan of creative non-fiction, and Gay captures exactly what I love about the genre in all three books: authenticity.
In Hunger, Gay explains that her memoir is not a weight loss success story and that she will not describe how she went from a plus size to a slim one. (Spoiler alert: She’s not losing weight.) Instead, Gay learns a lot more, like self-esteem, compassion, companionship, and acceptance.
Another reason I appreciate this brief is that Gay doesn’t write on a pedestal. Instead, she speaks directly to her audience and in a way a person who has also struggled with body acceptance would understand.
“It’s a book about my body, about my hunger, and ultimately it’s a book about disappearing and being lost and wanting so much, wanting to be seen and understood. It’s a book about learning, however slowly, to allow myself to be seen and understood. ” – Roxane Gay
You might like this book if …
You like raw and vulnerable work or prefer non-fiction or memory writing. This book is for those who are not looking for the perfect ending to a fairy tale, but who are looking for a human and relevant work.
After a highly successful online career, blogger, photographer, and self-esteem advocate, Jes Baker has released her first book, Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls: A Handbook for Unapologetic Living. His blog, The Militant Baker, has been featured in leading media including Time Magazine, People, Buzzfeed, and CNN.
Things No One Will Say To Fat Girls: A Handbook For A Shameless Life details the life changing movement of learning to love your body. At the forefront of the fight, Baker encourages his readers to throw off the gross shame and question preconceptions about the “perfect body.”
Baker writes that his book is for those with bodies who are sick of apologizing for it. She thinks you should be allowed and expect to do whatever makes you happy, which includes just being able to live your life.
A unique aspect of this book is that it includes challenges. Baker calls them the “The Fat People: Do All Things” challenges. The idea is based on one of his satirical blog posts calling things fat people are told they aren’t allowed to do. Readers can choose to participate by accepting these challenges.
“The world is more likely to tell us that we are good people than anything else. Funny, creative, intelligent, commutative, generous, maybe even extraordinary. What we are not told is that our body is perfect as it is. Like, never. We are taught that our exteriors are imperfect, and not only that, but the majority of our value lies in our physical appearance. “–Jes Baker
You might like this book if …
You are someone who wants something more than a book. Jes Baker’s guidebook is for those who want to make lessons from this book and the self-esteem movement a lifestyle.
If you’ve been following body positivity accounts or HIV positive women on Instagram in the past couple of years, chances are you’ve heard of this book from Caroline Dooner before. As a former dieter, Dooner cured his unhealthy obsession with food and weight.
Dooner believes that you don’t have to change your diet or try something new – you have to change the way you think about food. She says dieting isn’t sustainable, at least not in the long run, and believes that dieting and beating your body constantly isn’t a healthy or enjoyable way to live.
A memoir full of heart and humor, The F * ck it Diet: Eating Should Be Easy encourages readers to to eat. It means understanding when your body is hungry and meeting your body’s needs with food. Dooner says eating should be easy, and she breaks it down in its truest, most natural form.
“When you eat, you are actually bringing ‘earth’ into your body – attaching to the planet and keeping you alive. It gives weight to your physical existence. The act of eating and coming back into your body requires you to accept being human. It requires us to integrate ourselves into the most uncomfortable, messy, earthly, painful, and lower parts of our existence. “–Caroline Dooner
You might like this book if ….
Looking for a laugh as you read, Dooner does a great job describing and poking fun at the difficulties we all face. The book, which is like Laughing and Chatting with a Friend, is for those looking to stop feeling guilty about eating and gaining weight.
Former beauty fanatic Anuschka Rees wrote Beyond Beautiful: A Practical Guide to Being Happy, Confid, and You in a Looks-Obsessed World as a compelling personal care publication. Don’t just take my word for it – Caroline Dooner (author of The F * ck it Diet above) called this book the “self-confidence bible every woman should read.”
More than beautiful reads like a guide for a college class, and the first chapter is aptly called Body Image 101. This book taught me a lot, for example, I had never heard of the term “neutral body”. Rees explains that being positive for the body is a step in the right direction, because we need to change the standards of beauty in society, but we also need to be neutral to the body. It is a call to respect ourselves as human beings, not just the parts of the body that we shrink and detach.
Rees’ guide is unique in that over 600 real women were asked about their struggles with body image. Their quotes and actual stories are scattered throughout the chapters. There are also reflective questions, colorful illustrations, and tips on when and how to get professional help.
“A healthy body image is a bit like a good work-life balance: we know we really want it, but we don’t know 100% what it really looks like, or how to get it. And the fact that body image is a hot topic right now hasn’t made it any easier; because mixed in with all the good advice there is a whole lot of conflicting information and misconceptions which has further muddied the waters. “- Anuschka Rees
You might like this book if….
Looking to take a crash course in positive body image and self-esteem. I would recommend this guide to those new to the current movement who want to learn but don’t know where to start.
Lindy West began her writing career as an opinion writer for The New York Times. With that professional background, you wouldn’t expect West to produce writing as comedically as his memoir, Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman..
The title of this memoir may sound familiar to you – as it does to me – as the book was recently adapted into a Hulu series of the same name, with Aidy Bryant from Saturday Night Live. Bryant’s performance on the series earned her a 2021 Primetime Emmy nomination for Outstanding Leading Actress in a Comedy Series.
West’s Shrill: Notes of a Loud Woman is a feminist, and mostly humorous, adopts female body image. He describes the experience of many women who feel the need to reduce themselves in order to hide and blend in with society. West writes about his personal struggles with body weight and that exact feeling.
“Please remember, I am my body. When my body gets smaller, it’s always me. When my body grows, it’s always me. There is not a thin woman in me waiting for the excavation. . “- Lindy West
You might like this book if …
Looking to expand your library of feminist commentary, especially around body positivity. This brief is also intended for those who love or are interested in Roxanne Gay’s Hunger. Both are of the same genre and tell a story in intimate detail.
Why these books are important
This is far from an exhaustive list of books on the body. As this movement becomes more popular, I hope this list grows and the audience grows.
These books are important because they provide a voice for those who feel ashamed or despised by diet and excessive exercise culture. They also provide a community of support for those who struggle with the standards of beauty and weight in society.
Positive body image and self-esteem are ideals everyone should bring into the New Year. Hope these books encourage you and guide you towards a deeper self-love.
The information in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended for health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified healthcare professional with any questions you may have about a health problem or health goals.