Body positivity is a movement centered around the belief that all bodies are good bodies. It says we all deserve to embrace our appearance at every shape and size. A branch off movement, body neutrality, removes the idea that we have to find our physical bodies aesthetically pleasing at all in order to accept ourselves as we are. Wherever you are in your journey these books can offer you additional support as you navigate your personal body image.
General Guides on Body Positivity & Body Image
Building a healthy body image is a lifelong process of growth and self acceptance. It takes time to unlearn societal programming around our physical appearance. Which is why the concepts of body positivity and self acceptance are often first steps towards a larger goal of living wholeheartedly in our truth.
1. The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brené Brown, PhD
If the concept of a more holistic approach to body image and self acceptance—that calls in mind, body, heart, and soul—resonates with you, then you might find applicable takeaways, and perhaps even an “ah-ha” moment, in this hope-filled book by Brené Brown.
Dr. Brown centers her approach around this poignant definition of authenticity: “The daily practice of letting go of who we think we are supposed to be, and embracing who we are.” This serves as a powerful foundation for all of us as we navigate the expectations and pressures placed upon our shoulders in a comparison-obsessed world.
2. The Body Is Not an Apology, Second Edition: The Power of Radical Self-Love by Sonya Renee Taylor
The Body is Not an Apology is a book written by the founder of the global media and education company of the same name. The organization is committed to the belief that radical self-love is a crucial foundational tool for social justice, global equity, and intersectional activism.
This book calls us to acknowledge that no human being should be ashamed of, or apologize for, existing in a human body. Sonya calls us to start within ourselves in order to dismantle the external systems that uphold body-based oppression. They remind us that these systems hinder our experiences of genuine self-love, both inside ourselves and in the world—but we have the power to challenge them by doing the work to embrace ourselves in a radical and unapologetic way.
3. The Body Image Blueprint: Your Go-To Guide for Radical Self-Reverence by Jenny Eden Berk, MSEd
If you are looking for a witty and refreshing take on embracing your body, add this read to your bookshelf. Berk impressively maintains a lighthearted and humorous tone while tackling topics that are often heavy, debilitating, and considered societally shameful to discuss.
This book combines the poignant vulnerability of a personal memoir with the practical direction of a self-help book. By sharing anecdotes from her personal journey with body image, alongside interviews with 50 other individuals who struggle with their body image, Jenny empowers her readers to feel safe, seen, and a little less alone. She follows these testimonials up with techniques and strategies for crafting your own body image blueprint. If you want profound wisdom wrapped in a jovial tone, with a side of levity, this may just be the book for you.
4. Body Neutrality: The Liberating Practice of Accepting Your Body Exactly as It Is by Ayla Freitas Ghibaudy
Are you intrigued by the approach of body neutrality, and looking for a quick read with powerful takeaways? Consider adding this book to your reading list.
Coming in at under 100 pages this book is accessible and approachable to all readers. Ghibaudy invites you on a journey to break up with our society’s fixation on diet culture and body shaming, and find peace and acceptance with your body exactly as it is, right now. This succinct read contains meaningful musings, simple strategies, and practical applications to help you embrace and respect your body as it is today.
Journals & Workbooks on Body Positivity
Are you someone who prefers interactive formats when you are pursuing knowledge, wisdom, and healing? If you enjoy a balance of reading and doing, this collection of journals and interactive books about body image are a fantastic option to vary your reading.
5. A Body to Love: Cultivate Community, Body Positivity, and Self-Love in the Age of Social Media by Angelina Caruso
Have you, or someone you love, battled with an eating disorder as part of their body image journey? Has social media been a difficult hurdle for you to navigate as you work on healing your relationship with your body?
If you answered yes to either of those questions then this book might be a good fit for you.
Caruso is a social media influencer with an expansive platform on Instagram. In this book she shares many pieces of wisdom from her own personal journey with body image, self worth, and healing her relationship with food. She encourages her readers to dig deep into the media and influences they allow into their minds, and reminds us that we deserve to cultivate communities that feel safe and supportive for us as we navigate our internal and external relationships with ourselves.
6. The Body Positive Journal Written by Virgie Tovar & Illustrated by Lucila Perini
As an intersectional activist—and one of the nation’s top experts and speakers on body image, fatphobia, and weight based discrimination—Tovar brings an abundance of expertise and lived experience to the body neutrality dialogue.
This fun, lighthearted, and emotionally liberating journal about loving the body you are in contains inclusive artwork, vivid illustrations, and even a vibrant sticker sheet at the back. This journal contains writing prompts, visual prompts, and inspiring short essays to uncover and unravel the roadblocks standing in the way of your radical self acceptance. But if you ask the readers, many of them will say their favorite part is the “rage pages,” which are spaces specifically for venting and emotionally unpacking without the confines of eloquence or justification.
Filling out this journal is sure to be a freeing and empowering experience for anyone looking to channel their creativity into healing and vice versa.
7. Being in Your Body (Guided Journal): A Journal for Self-Love and Body Positivity Written by Fariha Róisín & Illustrated by Monica Ramos
This journal focuses on approaching our bodies with compassion and gentleness. Featuring lovely and vibrant artwork by Monica Ramos, and a collection of moving quotes by a diverse group of body positive advocates and influencers, this journal is a wonderful addition to any bookshelf.
Róisín invites us all to unpack our shame around our appearance, and free ourselves from the burden of societal beauty standards. This journal addresses many important concepts, including our culture’s fixation on comparison, which Fariha refers to as the “compare and despair” complex, and our society’s narrative that thinness and happiness are directly connected. This journal will walk you through the process of building a strong foundation of confidence within yourself, while also advocating for a broader definition of beauty across the board. Which means that as you build a healthy body image within yourself, you will in turn be equipped with the tools to advocate for others as well.
8. Body Talk: How to Embrace Your Body and Start Living Your Best Life by Katie Sturino
Sturino poses a striking question to the reader in this book: “Can you imagine how much free time you’d have if you didn’t spend so much of it body shaming yourself?” It’s a valid query considering that a majority of our society spends much of our lives in a cycle of constant comparison, perceived inadequacy, and shame.
As someone who spent 30 years of their life feeling ashamed of their body and self-assured of its wrongness, Katie uses Body Talk to say, “no more.” In her books and social media platforms, Sturino shares messages centered around the one that changed her life: “Your body is not the problem.” This book is an illustrated-guide-meets-interactive-journal. Complete with empowering affirmations, musings of personal wisdom, and practical action steps, this book is a great addition to anyone trying to let go of internal shame around their body and start living life to the fullest.
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Health & Wellness Books From Body Positive Perspectives
Throughout our body positivity journey many of us feel a desire to build a renewed relationship with nutrition and movement. Oftentimes, this means that we have to unlearn what we thought we knew about health, and in its place redefine what those things truly look like as we grow into our healthiest selves and pursue holistic wellness. These books are a great tool to aid in that process.
9. Body Respect: What Conventional Health Books Get Wrong, Leave Out, and Just Plain Fail to Understand about Weight by Linda Bacon, PhD & Lucy Aphramor, PhD, RD
If, like almost every human being, part of your journey with body image is unpacking internalized fatphobia and unlearning falsehoods used to maintain the prevalence of diet culture, then this book is a great place to start.
Bacon & Aphramor approach this hot button topic through a clinically backed lens wrapped in genuine compassion. They call for a ceasefire in our society’s war on fat bodies, and back up their reasoning with numerous citations from studies and medical literature. They unpack and debunk long-standing myths about weight, such as: The lack of accuracy when using BMI as a tool for measuring health; the claim that being overweight automatically indicates poor health; and the idea that dieting will always lead to improved health. They also make a case for what they refer to as the real epidemic, stating, “The real crisis lies in the toxic stigma placed on certain bodies, and the lasting impact of living with inequality.” This is a great read if you want to unpack what you’ve always been told about the correlation between health and weight.
10. The Eating Instinct: Food Culture, Body Image, and Guilt in America by Virginia Sole-Smith
The author was inspired to write this book after working to help her daughter feel safe around food again when she stopped eating due to a medical crisis. During that season of her life, she realized just how many other parents, kids, and people in our world were struggling to do the same.
Sole-Smith takes us on a journey to kitchen tables around the country where she interviews families from all walks of life. She indicates that, while every struggle is unique and informed by personal challenges, there are commonalities that show how each of them is influenced by our society’s food culture. Throughout this book we are reminded that, deep down, we all are asking the same questions: “How did we learn to eat this way? Why is it so hard to feel good about food? And how can we make it better?”
11. Raising Body Positive Teens: A Parent’s Guide to Diet-Free Living, Exercise, and Body Image by Signe Darpinian, Wendy Sterling, & Shelley Aggarwal
A quality read on building a home for your family free from the pangs of diet culture, “thinspiration,” and body shame; Darpinian, a licensed therapist; Sterling, a registered dietician; and Aggarwal, an adolescent medicine physician; bring a balanced perspective grounded in a dynamic and varied group of expertise.
This guide gives parents proactive and practical ways to promote healthy friendships with food for their children, while also offering prevention tools to mitigate risk factors regarding the development of eating disorders and body dysmorphia. Its focus is on encouraging parents and teens alike to develop and maintain a healthy relationship with food and movement by centering joy and overall health. This book is an invaluable resource for parents and caregivers who are trying to unlearn their own unhealthy beliefs about food, diet culture, and body image in order to pass down healthier patterns to the next generations.
12. The Elephant in the Gym: Your Body-Positive Guide to Writing Your Own Health and Fitness Story by Gillian Goerzen
This book starts by acknowledging the bombardment of diet ads we face daily: “Drop 15 pounds in 10 days! Get your bikini body in time for summer! Lose the carbs, lose the weight!” Goerzen points out that while these ads may sound enticing and exciting initially, the subliminal messaging soon sets in: “Your body is not good enough, and neither are you!”
This book offers readers a reframe on how they view fitness, movement, exercise, and health. Backed by science, grounded in kindness, and centered in self-compassion, Goerzen explains her personal journey through the “body hatred battleground,” and how she found her way out. This book uses practical tools, approachable strategies, and a “meet you where you are” mindset to empower you to build your own health and fitness story—without shame, weight loss obsession, and the added burden of diet culture.
Memoirs & Autobiographies That Deal With Body Image
Sometimes, simply hearing someone share their vulnerable truth is all we need to know that we are not alone. If you are someone that is inspired by personal testimonies and lived experience then these books are for you.
13. Body Positive Power: Because Life Is Already Happening and You Don’t Need Flat Abs to Live It by Megan Jayne Crabbe
Crabbe is a social media influencer and plus size activist who wrote this book with the central intention of challenging the societal idea that thinness and happiness are intrinsically connected. This book is an open invitation for the reader who is “tired of being at war with their own body.”
Some readers have described the author’s tone as an old friend who just wants you to remember that you are loved and worthy of acceptance exactly as you are. Crabbe’s down-to-earth nature, vibrant spirit, and vulnerability mixed with humor is a powerful blend that makes this book exceedingly relatable and inherently approachable. If you are looking for a book that is equal parts compelling, encouraging, nurturing, and uplifting, then this is a great read for you.
14. The Romance Diet by Destiny Allison
The underlying message woven throughout Allison’s text is that every day we battle against something: Our spouses, inequity, or our appearance; but we seldom acknowledge the real wars we are waging. You won’t find any cliché quotes, aesthetically pleasing recipes, or trite advice here—only striking vulnerability and raw honesty.
This book takes us to the corner where fat shaming, womanhood, and shameful silence intersect. It reminds us that we don’t do ourselves any favors by suppressing our feelings and suffering in silence. In this powerful memoir, Allison empowers us to stand up for ourselves, directly express our needs, and foster empathy for those we love (ourselves included).
15. Big Girl: How I Gave Up Dieting and Got a Life by Kelsey Miller
If you are curious about intuitive eating and movement and are looking for tools to reframe your relationship with food and build a healthier lifestyle for yourself, then this book might just be the one for you.
In this book, Miller focuses on helping unpack the shame our culture places on certain foods, and encourages the reader to normalize and practice partaking in all foods without shame or guilt. The goal here is to remind the audience that, in reality, foods do not have assigned levels of morality, and anything that says otherwise is a result of our society’s thinness and dieting-obsessed culture. This book is based on a web series Miller did with Refinery29, so it reads as a collection of blog posts and blips of personal experiences, which allows for a casual and laid-back reading style. Bonus points, Miller has quite a sense of humor, and you are guaranteed to laugh and smile along the way.
16. Stronger: Changing Everything I Knew About Women’s Strength by Poorna Bell
Stronger is a fantastic book for people on their body positivity journey looking to build a renewed relationship with sports, movement, and physical activity. Bell calls on all of us to re-examine what strength means to us, and how we’ve been conditioned to perceive and understand it.
This memoir is a powerful exploration of our societal interpretation of the relationship of strength in women, and also contains provocative insight into the fitness industry’s relationship to the intersection of gender, age, and race. Bell, a powerlifter-turned-author, tackles pervasive obstacles within both the fitness industry and society at large, including racism, sexism, diet culture, disordered eating, disabilities, mental health, ageism, and women’s health. This book is a powerful manifesto about the true meaning of strength, and a call to action for a shift in culture within the fitness industry.
When to Talk to a Therapist About Body Image
Please note, while books can be a fantastic additional resource while healing, they are not a substitute for professional help. If you, or someone you know, is currently struggling with body image at a level that is hindering their daily wellbeing, or negatively affecting their quality of life, please talk to your doctor or check out an online therapist directory to find a therapist in your area. You deserve to feel at home, safe, and at peace in your body. There is no shame in needing some additional help to achieve that goal.