Whether we like it or not, we’ll be living in and with our bodies for the entirety of our time on this planet. Too often, individuals of all shapes and sizes and ages can get caught up in the hustle of trying to change their bodies and dealing with feelings of self-doubt, shame, disappointment, and sadness. After reading a multitude of books on body image, hunger, eating, health, weight, and more, these 10 stand out as some of the most informative, understandable, and humorous books. Here’s to hoping that most, if not all, of these books can be found at your local library and deserve a spot on your Goodreads shelf.
1. More Than a Body: Your Body Is an Instrument, Not an Ornament
By: Lexie Kite and Lindsay Kite
This book blew me away with its simple yet astounding phrase: “Your Body Is an Instrument, Not an Ornament.” Heck yes! This book examines how our bodies are tools and aid us in so many ways that don’t revolve around being a certain size or thing to look at and judge. This book focuses on body image resilience, as opposed to only body positivity, and touches on different styles of healing. This book contains research on many topics, ranging from the dangers of body objectification to how detrimental eating disorders and body-focused behaviors can be.
2. The Body Is Not an Apology, Second Edition: The Power of Radical Self-Love
By: Sonya Renee Taylor
If you’re able to listen to this book as an audiobook, do it. Sonya Renee Taylor has one of the most passionate voices I’ve ever heard and shines through as she discusses radical self-love in an image-focused world. Taylor calls on all her readers to forgo shame and connect with our inner strengths and resilience, making it one of the most impactful body image books to date.
3. The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty Are Used Against Women
By: Naomi Wolf
Close your eyes and picture what you think a “perfect” woman is supposed to look like. Almost all of us can do this with little effort, which Naomi Wolf argues is exactly the problem. Although women and the feminist movement and ideas have made many strides, many women find themselves still striving for a “perfect” ideal that is unattainable and has many costs to pursue. Take a moment to remind yourself that these airbrushed women we see in the media and in magazines at our local grocery stores aren’t always real or attainable, and that beauty and body ideals can rapidly change.
4. The F*ck It Diet: Eating Should Be Easy
By: Caroline Dooner
Don’t let the vulgar title fool you! This book combines humor with neuroscience and research on why our bodies crave certain things and how we can allow ourselves to eat everything we want and deserve. This is a refreshingly honest and blunt book that touches on intuitive eating, binge eating, food obsession, dieting, and how we can make eating easy and effortless.
5. Intuitive Eating, 4th Edition: A Revolutionary Anti-Diet Approach
By: Evelyn Tribole, MS, RDN, CEDRD-S and Elyse Resch, MS, RDM, CEDRD-S, FAND
A cult classic. This book has completely reshaped the eating habits and beliefs of millions of men and women and is often referenced in almost every other book on this list. The intuitive eating approach is based on 10 principles that can help you heal your relationship with food and listen to the cues your body is sending you. Intuitive eating can lead to food freedom and takes time and effort, yet is well worth it in the long run.
6. Anti-Diet: Reclaim Your Time, Money, Well-Being, and Happiness Through Intuitive Eating
By: Christy Harrison, MPH, RD
Similar to The F*ck It Diet, this book completely rejects the diet mindset and elaborates on the profits and schemes of the multi-billion dollar diet and beauty industry. This book provides eye-opening statistics and facts on dieting and weight, which can serve as a wake-up call to those who find themselves in the thralls of yo-yo dieting and weight gain and loss. Health and wellness are explored with facts, science, personal stories, humor, and more.
7. Your Good Body: Embracing a Body-Positive Mindset in a Perfection-Focused World
By: Jennifer Taylor Wagner
This book takes a bold stance: to create and cultivate body positivity, you first need to start with creating a healthier and more positive mindset. This book looks at our inner self-critics and the negative self-talk statements and beliefs that can lead us to feel ashamed of our bodies. Wagner explores how we can get stuck on finding what we think is perfection instead of pursuing the healthiest versions of ourselves, whatever that may look like for you at this moment.
8. Body Talk: How to Embrace Your Body and Start Living Your Best Life
By: Katie Sturino
One of my favorite questions to ask my clients struggling with negative body image and thoughts is: “What would you spend your time thinking about and doing if you weren’t thinking about your body?” This book explores this question further and tells both men and women that your body is NOT the problem, our image-focused and perfection-focused society is. This book provides concrete things you can do to work on your body image and has a journaling aspect to help aid you with self-discovery and exploring your thoughts and feelings.
9. Health at Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight
By: Linda Bacon, PhD
Another famous book that provided a revolutionary way of looking at the human body and dieting. This book looks away from the number on the scale and the size of your jeans to help men and women find enjoyment in movement, heal their relationship with food, and enjoy the body you’re in, right now. Health does not equate to looking a certain way and doing positive things for your body, no matter the shape or size, can help boost your health and self-esteem.
10. Such a Pretty Fat: One Narcissist’s Quest To Discover if Her Life Makes Her Ass Look Big, Or Why Pie is Not The Answer
By: Jen Lancaster
If you want to avoid some of the science-y talk and dive straight into humor, this book is your best bet. I laughed out loud more times than I can count and learned some valuable lessons along the way. This book rejects the mentality that living our best lives comes when we lose weight or appear a specific size while also honoring the fact that overall health and wellbeing is a necessary aspects to pay attention to and strive towards.
I hope some or all of these books bring you feelings of hope, happiness, and bits of freedom from thinking and focusing on your body. If you feel reading books and doing things on your own aren’t enough or aren’t working, please reach out to schedule a session with a therapist who can help assist you. We’re all in this together.
Written by Carolyn Simon, MS