The best books about weight and body image

The Books I Picked & Why

Fearing the Black Body: The Racial Origins of Fat Phobia

By Sabrina Strings

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.


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Health at Every Size: The Surprising Truth about Your Weight

By Linda Bacon

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.


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

By Sonya Renee Taylor

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.


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

By Naomi Wolf

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.


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

By Charlotte Markey

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.


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