Hello autumn angels,
Sometime around my 12th birthday, I started dieting for the first time. I understood the game but not the stakes. I’d been surrounded by images of thin women, glorified in romantic comedies and princess cartoons, and highlighted on magazine covers and in advertisements for everything from yogurt to razors. I knew what I was striving for, but not what it would cost. I didn’t know it would take me years to unwind my tangled-up relationship with food and my body. I did it; I am free now, and incredibly grateful for it. I just wish it didn’t take so long. And I wish nobody had to get lost in those woods to begin with.
I initially read Body Positive Power: How to Stop Dieting, Make Peace with Your Body and Live by Megan Jayne Crabbe a few years ago, when I put together this list of body image books on BuzzFeed. While reading it through again this year, I kept thinking, man, this is the book I wish I had when I was younger. Megan, a body positive activist and creator who became well-known on Instagram, has created an amazing starting guide for healing your relationship with your body. Each chapter dives into a key topic, from beauty ideals in the media, to the diet industry, to our relationships with food and exercise. In each chapter, she explores the topic at hand from a variety of angles, incorporating her personal experiences, pop culture examples, and research studies. By the end of the book, it’s so clear that us getting stuck in this game of trying to control our bodies was never our fault. It was designed for us to lose (and keep playing).
But there is a way out, where we can find joy and freedom in the bodies we’ve been given. The things that I have personally found healing are ones that Megan addresses in depth as well. Intuitive eating? It’s here. Finding joy in movement as opposed to using exercise as punishment? Yep. Throughout the book, Megan even includes “Belly Love Tips,” as that is a body part that so many people have struggled to love (myself included). One of the tips is to create a gallery of photos or artwork of people with stomachs of all shapes and sizes, to remind yourself how beautiful they are. Strangely enough, I had already started doing a version of this in the year prior to reading this book for the first time.
All this to say, if I were to build a time machine and visit my teen self, I would certainly be packing this book. But since such an invention is not in my sights, instead I am going to enthusiastically recommend this book to you. If you’ve got a body, I think it’s got something for you.
P.S. Megan recently started a newsletter called “Is it Just Me Or…” which you can subscribe to here. Other links are below!