The best books about weight and body image

Who am I?

I’ve been reporting on and writing about food, eating, health, and body image for the last 25 years. So much of what we’re taught about those issues, it turns out, is wrong, inaccurate, and often damaging. I’ve made a point of uncovering the truth in those areas and to write about it in ways that help other people through this difficult terrain. My writing philosophy can be summed up in six words: I write so I’m not alone. And, I would add, so you’re not alone, either.


I wrote...

Body of Truth: How Science, History, and Culture Drive Our Obsession with Weight—and What We Can Do About It

By Harriet Brown,

Book cover of Body of Truth: How Science, History, and Culture Drive Our Obsession with Weight—and What We Can Do About It

What is my book about?

Over the past twenty-five years, our quest for thinness has morphed into a relentless obsession with weight and body image. In our culture, "fat" has become a four-letter word. Or, as Lance Armstrong said to the wife of a former teammate, "I called you crazy. I called you a bitch. But I never called you fat." How did we get to this place where the worst insult you can hurl at someone is "fat"? Where women and girls (and increasingly men and boys) will diet, purge, overeat, undereat, and berate themselves and others, all in the name of being thin?

Body of Truth systematically unpacks what’s been offered about ‘truth’ about weight and health.

The books I picked & why

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Fearing the Black Body: The Racial Origins of Fat Phobia

By Sabrina Strings,

Book cover of Fearing the Black Body: The Racial Origins of Fat Phobia

Why this book?

We’re so used to thinking about weight and bodies in certain ways that it can be disconcerting to realize we don’t truly understand why we think the way we do. Sabrina Strings’ book opened my eyes to the true origins of weight stigma in the U.S., and those origins shocked me. Our current concept of the ideal woman’s body—thin, white, able—developed and became entrenched as a way to differentiate white people from “others,” whether they were Black, Jewish, Irish, Italian, or in some other visible way not-white. That’s pretty much all there is to it. And once you understand that, your feelings about body image will almost certainly change.


Health at Every Size: The Surprising Truth about Your Weight

By Linda Bacon,

Book cover of Health at Every Size: The Surprising Truth about Your Weight

Why this book?

Though Linda Bacon didn’t originate the idea of Health at Every Size (HAES), this book popularized it for a mainstream audience. Here Bacon explains what HAES is and isn’t in clear, readable prose, supported by research, evidence, and logic. This book is a perfect starting point for anyone who wants to explore the ways we think about weight and health and how they are (and aren’t) connected.


The Body Is Not an Apology: The Power of Radical Self-Love

By Sonya Renee Taylor,

Book cover of The Body Is Not an Apology: The Power of Radical Self-Love

Why this book?

This is one of the most empowering books I’ve ever read. In a society that’s deeply in thrall to the thin white ideal, it feels radical to push back against that idea and claim space for bodies that may not fit that paradigm. In this book, Sonya Renee Taylor inspires us to think about body image in terms of systemic change and community, and in the process maps out a path toward a different way of being.


The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty Are Used Against Women

By Naomi Wolf,

Book cover of The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty Are Used Against Women

Why this book?

I first read this when it came out in 1992, at a time when few people were publicly connecting body image and feminism. This book literally changed the way I saw the world! It liberated me to stop spending so much time and energy trying to make my body fit an impossible mold and to start using my talents for more important things.


The Body Image Book for Girls: Love Yourself and Grow Up Fearless

By Charlotte Markey,

Book cover of The Body Image Book for Girls: Love Yourself and Grow Up Fearless

Why this book?

There’s been a lot of research on how girls fall prey to diet culture, lose their self-confidence, disappear into disordered eating/eating disorders/low self-esteem at puberty. A lot of that is triggered by living in a culture that’s so messed up around food, eating, and body image. So I’m always looking for tools to give girls to help them navigate that treacherous time, and this is one of the books I like to recommend.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in body image, health, and obesity?

5,215 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about body image, health, and obesity.

Body Image Explore 15 books about body image
Health Explore 60 books about health
Obesity Explore 12 books about obesity

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Jemima J, Weightless, and Bodies Are Cool if you like this list.