As a kid, I gravitated toward YA books with a not-skinny main character. Since I didn’t really fit in in my every day life, I wanted to find someone like me who I could relate to.
I read books after books after books, and while the main plot line and characters would vary, they would all inevitably share the same overarching theme: the girl would lose weight, discover how happy she was and find a man.
Seriously. I would purposely seek out books with bigger main characters, hoping to find myself identifying with someone so I wouldn’t feel so alone amidst the bullying (internal and external).
All I could find were books where people weren’t happy or with someone until they got skinnier.
People would make fun of them and boys wouldn’t like them until they lost at least 20 pounds or whatever. What kind of message is that for a young girl or boy?
Most of them didn’t even realize they were losing weight because they found some activity they enjoyed where losing weight was just an added perk. I never found a physical activity I really liked, so that always made me feel more out of place.
I felt if I didn’t find a physical activity I enjoyed, I would never lose weight, I’d never find a boyfriend, I’d never be happy, etc. And book after book after book cemented that truth in my mind.
And guess what eventually happened?
I gained weight, met an awesome guy, fell in love and now we’re engaged and happier than we’ve ever been.
If you would’ve told my pre-teen self that that’s what my future held, I would’ve thought it was just a cruel joke.
But it wasn’t! And this is why we need more positive role models both in our lives and in the books we read.
Now that I’m older and I’ve read several memoirs and fiction books featuring characters of all sizes, I realize just how important body diversity and self-love are in books.
Books are a wonderful outlet for countless reasons, but especially because they can help people feel understood. If we never see ourselves or even a version of ourselves in the things we see and read, what kind of message does that send?
As someone who wants to be a mom some day, I’ve started compiling a list of body positive and self-love books for kids and teens. The sooner we can instill the importance of self-love especially, the better chance kids have of growing confidence sooner and having it last. I also have been rounding up body positive and self-love books for adults because I always want to stay educated and informed.
Just because I’m a self-love blogger, I’m not foolish enough to think I know everything about self-love, self-care, body diversity, etc. But I do know books are a hugely important resource I will continue to turn to.
And who knows? Maybe some day I’ll write the kinds of books I wished I had when I was younger.