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My 5 Favorite Body Positive Beach Reads

Is 2018 the summer of the body positive beach read?

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash
Source: Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Is 2018 the summer of the body positive beach read? There are so many awesome new books coming out this season, just in-time for some serious poolside/parkside/inside eading. So grab your iced latte and make yourself comfy, because we’ve got some good ones coming your way.

BTW, just because body positivity is starting to make some headway into mainstream culture — Hello, Self Magazine’s “The Weight Issue” and AMC's series “Dietland” — don’t think that we aren’t still swimming in toxic diet-culture sludge. It’s important to intentionally ground ourselves in a body positive practice and part of that involves immersing ourselves in body positive messaging. I hope these books will help you do that. Summer book club anyone?

The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things and The Universe Is Expanding and So Am I by Carolyn Mackler.

A young adult novel with a fat protagonist whose happily-ever-after does NOT involve losing weight? WHAT?! And she has a sex life?! This is downright revolutionary. Both novels star Virginia, a 15-year old young woman living in a larger body, struggling to accept herself while also trying to make sense of her family dynamics, sexual assault, and navigate the tumultuous waters of adolescent friendships and romance. If you have a teen in your life, this is the perfect series to read together and then discuss over some dumplings and scallion pancakes (Virginia’s favorites). But this book is just as engaging for adults as it is for teens--or at least this adult thought so!

You Have the Right to Remain Fat by Virgie Tovar

When your favorite fat activist and social justice warrior is releasing a new book, you know you better have that puppy on pre-order. You Have the Right to Remain Fat doesn’t come out until August so we’ll just have to spend the next month anticipating what is bound to be a profound read! If it’s coming from Virgie, we just know it is going to be on point. Until we can get our eyes on the real thing, here’s the description from Amazon:

Growing up as a fat girl, Virgie Tovar believed that her body was something to be fixed. But after two decades of dieting and constant guilt, she was over it―and gave herself the freedom to trust her own body again. Ever since, she’s been helping others to do the same. Tovar is hungry for a world where bodies are valued equally, food is free from moral judgment, and you can jiggle through life with respect. In concise and candid language, she delves into unlearning fatphobia, dismantling sexist notions of fashion, and how to reject diet culture’s greatest lie: that fat people need to wait before beginning their best lives.

Landwhale by Jes Baker

This memoir delves into the experience of Jes Baker (author of the wildly popular The Militant Baker blog and social media accounts) growing up as a fat girl and now living life as a fat woman. The title was taken from an insult hurled at Jes--or at least it was something intended to be an insult-- but rather than fall into a black-hole shame spiral, Jes recognized the beauty of the animal and embraced it on her journey towards self-acceptance. This book isn’t all self-love roses and ponies; Jes also talks about the very real fatphobia rampant in our culture, why our society marginalizes bodies that refuse to conform, and how it can be hard AF to live life as a fat person. And that’s because our culture is broken--not our bodies! Jes said this was the hardest and most vulnerable thing she’s ever written. It’s a good thing beach towels do double duty as tissues.

Dietland by Sarai Walker

This book was actually released back in 2015, but it got a new cover this summer to go with the release of the AMC television series so I think that warrants inclusion on this list. I’m a huge fan of the new AMC series, and if you haven’t been watching, it’s an absolute must. The show is keeping me on the edge of my seat and it’s so hard to wait for the new episode to be released each Monday, so I’m getting my Dietland fix with the original book. It’s also fun to see how the story was translated from the page to the screen! Here’s the book description from Amazon:

Plum Kettle does her best not to be noticed, because when you’re fat, to be noticed is to be judged. With her job answering fan mail for a teen magazine, she is biding her time until her weight-loss surgery. But when a mysterious woman in colorful tights and combat boots begins following her, Plum falls down a rabbit hole into the world of Calliope House — an underground community of women who reject society’s rules — and is forced to confront the real costs of becoming “beautiful.” At the same time, a guerilla group begins terrorizing a world that mistreats women, and Plum becomes entangled in a sinister plot. The consequences are explosive.

Celebrate Your Body (And It's Changes Too!) by Sonya Renee Taylor

Finally, a body positive book about puberty for girls that celebrates all bodies. Written by Sonya Renee Taylor, activist, poet, and author of the AMAZING body positive book for adults The Body Is Not An Apology: The Power of Radical Self-Love, this is a must have for the budding adolescent in your life. In fact, I think many adults could learn a lot from this tome. How many of us wish this existed when we were 10?

Alexis Conason is a clinical psychologist specializing in the treatment of overeating disorders, body image dissatisfaction, psychological issues related to bariatric surgery, and sexual issues. She is the founder of The Anti-Diet Plan (sign up for her free 30 day course). Follow her on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

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