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By Librarian Hanna, Coulee City

What images come to mind when you see or hear “summer body”? Magazines and diet ads would have people believe only those who are thin, toned, and tanned are worthy and allowed to wear swimsuits and short hemlines. People (especially women, but also men and non-binary folks) see such images everywhere. 

This year, such messaging is mixed with the context of the pandemic. Our lives have  been upended due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and for some of us that includes changes to our eating, drinking, and exercising routines. We hear and see the term “quarantine 15” to describe how some bodies have changed this past year. For those of us who survived the pandemic, no matter how different our bodies may look now compared to February 2020, they have gotten us through an awful global pandemic.

Even as we may remind ourselves to accept all bodies, few people are immune to the summer body messaging and “quarantine 15” comments  seen this season. The following list is a compilation of books and movies celebrating and affirming all kinds of bodies. While they are grouped by age, feel free to read outside the categories, as many of these are appropriate for all ages and people can learn from all of them. 

Eating disorders can  look and feel many different ways, which may include: a relentless pursuit of thinness and unwillingness to maintain a normal or healthy weight; intense fear of gaining weight; feeling distressed, ashamed, or guilty about your eating; mild anemia and muscle wasting and weakness; dehydration; and tooth decay (via the National Institutes of Health). If you think you or a loved one struggle with an eating disorder, you can contact the National Eating Disorder Hotline via text, call, or chat. They can help with support, resources, and treatment options for yourself or loved ones.

Picture Books

Titch by Pat Hutchins (print): Titch feels left out because he is so much smaller than his brother and sister until he gets a little seed that grows bigger than anything they have.

The Body Book by Roz MacLean: Look at your body, And learn to say, Every body is different, And that’s okay. Big or small, Short or tall, The Body Book Is fun for all! The Body Book helps kids learn to love their bodies while recognizing and celebrating how every body is different!

¡Me gusta cómo soy! = I like myself! by Karen Beaumont: Autoestima que celebra el placer de disfrutar quién eres. An exuberant ode to self-esteem that celebrates the joy of liking who you are.

Love Your Body by Jessica Sanders: “Freedom is loving your body with all its “imperfections” and being the perfectly imperfect you! Love Your Body encourages young girls to admire and celebrate their bodies for all the amazing things they can do, and to help girls see that they are so much more than their bodies”

Lovely by Jess Hong: Big, small, curly, straight, loud, quiet, smooth, wrinkly. Lovely explores a world of differences that all add up to the same thing: we are all lovely!

Middle Grade

Halfway to Perfect by Nikki Grimes: Despite what Dyamonde and Free say, Damaria worries that she is getting fat, until a classmate’s problem with diabetes causes her to change her thoughts about body image.

Celebrate Your Body (and Its Changes Too) by Sonya Renee Taylor: Your guide to understanding and loving your body – now and as it continues to change. Here’s everything you need to know about breasts and bras, your period, hair here and there, feelings and friends, and so much more. Think of this book as your new best friend that will help you learn about – and celebrate – your amazing, changing, one-of-a-kind body!

Wonder by R.J. Palacio. Also available on audio CD, as a classroom kit, y en Español: August Pullman was born with a facial deformity that, up until now, has prevented him from going to a mainstream school. He’s about to enter fifth grade at Beecher Prep, and if you’ve ever been the new kid, then you know how hard that can be. The thing is Auggie’s just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he’s just like them, despite appearances?

Young Adult Fiction

Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy: Sixteen-year-old Willowdean wants to prove to everyone in her small Texas town that she is more than just a fat girl, so, while grappling with her feelings for a co-worker who is clearly attracted to her, Will and some other misfits prepare to compete in the beauty pageant her mother runs.

The Summer of Jordi Perez by Amy Spalding: Seventeen, fashion-obsessed, and gay, Abby Ives has always been content playing the sidekick in other people’s lives. While her friends and sister have plunged headfirst into the world of dating and romances, Abby’s been happy to focus on her plus-size style blog and her dreams of taking the fashion industry by storm. But really, nothing this summer goes as planned. Just as Abby starts to feel like she’s no longer the sidekick in her own life, a coworker’s photography surprisingly puts her in the spotlight. Instead of feeling like she’s landed a starring role, Abby feels betrayed. Can Abby find a way to reconcile her positive yet private sense of self with the image others have of her?

Fat Chance, Charlie Vega by Crystal Maldonado: Charlie Vega is smart, funny, artistic, ambitious. And fat. People sometimes have a problem with that last one. Especially her mom. The world wants Charlie to be thinner, lighter, slimmer-faced, straighter-haired, like her best friend Amelia. When Charlie starts a tentative relationship with cute classmate Brian, the first worthwhile guy to notice her, everything is perfect until she learns one thing: he asked Amelia out first. Does he really like Charlie? Or is he just using her to get closer to Amelia?

There’s Something About Sweetie by Sandhya Menon: Told in two voices, disappointed-in-love Ashish Patel and self-proclaimed fat athlete Sweetie Nair begin to find their true selves while dating under contract.

Eat and Love Yourself by Sweeney Boo : Mindy is a young woman living with an eating disorder and trapped in a battle for her own self-worth. When she accidentally discovers something that will give her a chance to revisit her past, she thinks she has a chance to put her life back on track. But will she be able to find a way back to her present and treat herself with love and kindness at any size? Graphic novel.

More than a Body
the Body is Not An Apology

You Have the Right to Remain Fat by Virgie Tovar: Growing up as a fat girl, Virgie Tovar believed that her body was something to be fixed. 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.

More Than a Body by Lindsay and Lexie Kite: Positive body image isn’t believing your body looks good; it is knowing your body is good, regardless of how it looks. Our beauty-obsessed world perpetuates the idea that happiness, health, and ability to be loved are dependent on how we look, but authors Lindsay and Lexie Kite offer an alternative vision. With insights drawn from their extensive body image research, PhDs Lindsay and Lexie Kite lay out an action plan that arms you with the skills you need to reconnect with your whole self and free yourself from the constraints of self-objectification.

Body of Truth by Harriet Brown: Over the last 25 years, our longing for thinness has morphed into a relentless cultural obsession with weight and body image. In this book, Harriet Brown describes how biology, psychology, metabolism, media, and culture come together to shape our ongoing obsession with our bodies, and what we can learn from them to help us shift the way we think. Brown exposes some of the myths behind the rhetoric of obesity, gives historical and contemporary context for what it means to be “fat,” and offers readers ways to set aside the hysteria and think about weight and health in more nuanced and accurate ways

Body Talk by Kelly Jensen: We all experience the world in a body, but we don’t usually take the time to explore what it really means to have and live in one. In this collection of essays, lists, comics and art, readers will explore how every body is unique, and tells its own story

The Body is Not an Apology by Sonya Taylor Renee also available on eBook: Humans are a varied and divergent bunch with all manner of beliefs, morals, and bodies. Systems of oppression thrive off our inability to make peace with difference and injure the relationship we have with our own bodies. The Body Is Not an Apology offers radical self-love as the balm to heal the wounds inflicted by these violent systems.

Killing Us Softly

Miss Representation  also streaming on Kanopy: Explores how mainstream media contributes to the under-representation of women in influential positions in America and challenges the media’s limiting and often disparaging portrayals of women. Features commentary from many influential women in media and politics.

Killing Us Softly streaming on Kanopy: With wit and warmth, Kilbourne uses over 160 ads and commercials to critique advertising’s image of women. By fostering creative and productive dialogue, she invites viewers to look at familiar images in a new way, that moves and empowers them to take action.

The Illusionists streaming on Kanopy: The Illusionists examines how global advertising firms, mass media conglomerates, and the beauty, fashion, and cosmetic surgery industries are changing the way people around the world define beauty and see themselves.

Hairspray (2009): In 1962 Baltimore, all the kids watch the Corny Collins Show. Every day after school Tracy Turnblad, an overweight teenager with all the right moves, and her best friend Penny run home to watch and drool over teenage heartthrob Link Larkin. When one of the “Council Kids” goes on a leave of absence, Tracy auditions to be the replacement, is sent to detention for skipping school, and thereby meets Seaweed–who shows her how to really shake ’em down. Helped by Seaweed, Link, Penny, Motormouth Maybelle, and her parents, Tracy sets out to integrate the show … without denting her ‘do!

Wonder: Based on the New York best seller, this tells the incredibly inspiring and heartwarming story of August Pullman, a boy with facial differences who enters fifth grade, attending a mainstream elementary school for the first time.

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