It was hard not to notice Love My Body in the book store. A children's picture book with a strong message about body positivity? How exciting! I am a firm believer in the body positivity movement, so I immediately grabbed the book off the shelf and began flipping through it. I loved what I saw. There were large women, small women, women with hairy armpits, women with stretch marks, women of colour, women with large breasts and women with small breasts, tall women and short women, women in wheelchairs and women with missing limbs, women with hairy legs, and so much more. And the message in the book was one that I could shout from the rooftops: "There is no one size, ability, or colour that is perfect. What makes you different makes you, you – and you are amazing!"
How often are girls told that? Not often enough. From a young age, girls are bombarded with unrealistic beauty expectations from society, that tell us what we should look like. The conversation around body image is almost always negative, which can be terrible on a person's self-esteem. The truth is we are all imperfect and everybody has flaws.
Body positivity is about loving your body and all of its imperfections and celebrating the amazing things it can do. It is the freedom to love yourself exactly how you are. It is being kind to yourself while you work toward improving your physical fitness and mental wellbeing. It is having the confidence to ask to be seen and to reject unrealistic beauty expectations. It is about rejecting what is seen as 'normal' and embracing individuality, self-love and self-acceptance.
Love Your Body was written by Jessica Saunders and illustrated by Carol Rossetti and published by Five Mile in May 2019. The book is 40 pages long and is suitable for children 6 years and older. It was written and designed as a resource that parents, teachers or carers can use to read to young girls (and for those who identify as a girl), who are about to enter puberty and might have questions about their changing bodies. The messages in the book are important and should be exposed to young girls as soon as possible. It should be noted that the language used in the book is not gendered, and the author states at the start of the book that negative body image can affect anyone, regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation and that the message about body positivity included in the book is meant to be universal.
Jessica Saunders is passionate about women's rights and body positivity and was inspired to write the book after completing a Masters of Social Work and feeling frustrated by her own experiences as a young girl growing up with a negative body image and struggling with unrealistic expectations of beauty.
I adored this book. As someone who has struggled with negative body image, I loved the positive message in this book that there is no one size, shape, colour or ability that is normal. We all come in different shapes and sizes. As much as physical health is important, so is mental health. It is ok to love yourself and your flaws, while also acknowledging that you need to make a change, and it is ok to want to be seen.
Thank you, Jessica Saunders, for this wonderful gift of a book. I am so happy that I am able to read it to my daughter. I just wish that I had it when I was growing up.