10 of Our Favorite Books to Improve Body Image

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Why would anyone need books to improve body image? Think back to the last time you had a crushing body image moment.  You catch your image in the mirror when you walk by, you see a photo you’ve been tagged in on Facebook, you just had a baby and don’t recognize your form. Bad body image moments happen to all of us. Some less frequently than others, but trust me, to all of us. Celebrities that look “perfect” don’t spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on plastic surgery, and filter and airbrush every picture because they think they look perfect all the time.  

Our point is, the problem isn’t how you look. The problem, the issue is, what we think about how we look. Struggling with the way you look puts its own cloudy filter on our lives. The discomfort of being in our own skin takes us out of the moments we want to be sharing with our loved ones. 

It is very easy just to sink into those negative feelings, cancel the social engagements we had looked forward to because we feel we just “can’t be seen,” but we have found putting the time into actively changing your mindset can act as a powerful weapon to ensure these thoughts dont level you for days. 

Research supports fighting back against these moments and filling our mind with other more positive ways to relate to our bodies can help negate future disordered eating and eating disorder challenges.  

Try to make it a self care practice to change out the negative self talk.  Here we suggest 10 of our favorite body image books. Fill your mind with this and not that mean girl on your shoulder and we promise the bad moments won’t keep ya down as long next time. And eventually, they won’t have the power to knock you down in the first place. 

If reading isn’t your thing, join us for our Free Body Image Training Series: How to Stop Hating Your Body.

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Ten of our favorite books to improve body image

  1. Body Respect: What Conventional Health Books Get Wrong, Leave Out, and Just Plain Fail to Understand about Weight, by Lindo Bacon and Lucy Aphramor
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This book is perfect for those who need (and rightfully so) a more scientific view toward body image, while also serving as a strong response to an overhyped, diet-obsessed culture where health and weight are tightly wound together.  As the HAES movement suggests, Dr. Bacon and Dr. Aphramor argue you can have Health At Every Size and that thinness alone doesn’t equate to health. We here at Wellness Lately hold this theory at the core of our company values as well, helping women achieve true wellness in ways that reach far beyond the number on the scale. This book was a wake up call to me personally, as it draws attention to the illness and suffering Americans face, not directly because of obesity, as once understood, but due to poverty, social inequality, oppression and stigma. It is an important read for everyone who wants to change their mindset on accepting other body types.  

2.The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are, by Brené Brown

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Who doesn’t love Brené Brown? I think I love her because regardless of her being a force that you can feel coming through your computer monitor or TV screen, she remains approachable, the type of gal that I could grab a glass of wine with after work.  She’s real….strong and sensitive and she shows us that.  This book is a study in self love and acceptance that works to dull the fires of self consciousness in everyone who reads it.  Forbes magazine named Gifts one of the “Five Books That Will Actually Change Your Outlook On Life.” Don’t miss it!!!

3. The Romance Diet: Body Image and the Wars We Wage On Ourselves, by Destiny Allison

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This is a really different book.  If you are looking for more of a story intertwined with relatable lessons in self help, this book is for you.  This is actually author Destiny Allison’s highly emotional true story of how a physical injury caused her to re-envision her life. It’s hard to explain, as I’ve never read anything like it, but it is both a story about weight loss and how it affects our lives, and a love story with ourselves and the people in our lives. It’s a really interesting read for a self help junkie that might want to try something new.  

4. Beyond Beautiful: A Practical Guide to Being Happy, Confident, and You in a Looks-Obsessed World, Anuschka Rees 

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Caroline Dooner (whose book the F*ck It Diet is also amazing), calls this book, “a Self Confidence Bible that every woman should read.”  She’s right. This book reads like a guide to building confidence in your body, in your clothes, and overall in your life.  Rees includes practical steps and exercises people can do to upgrade their body confidence and build resilience in their lives within the era of “toxic social media-driven beauty standards.” 

Dana and Bridget interview Anuschka on the podcast all about this book, and it’s one of our most popular episodes to date!

5. Beautiful You: A Daily Guide to Radical Self-Acceptance by Rosie Molinary

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As a mother, I found this book to be incredibly inspiring.  The Author, Rosie Molinary has made a 365-day action plan to combat the habitual self-criticism we are so used to painting on ourselves every morning. Think a year full of journal prompts.  I bought this book for $1.08 on amazon, and I’ve marked up every page.  It goes beyond “positive affirmations” which can feel inaccessible and certainly cringe worthy for someone who is used to a more tough love approach.  I loved this book because as a Mom, it’s not enough to say “love yourself” to your teenager who is being besieged by images and messages that suggest her beauty is inadequate, we must go proactively into the future armed with exercises, weapons to combat the bullets that will inevitably be flying at them from every entertainment portal available to them at every hour of the day.  Rosie was a teacher, and these exercises she shares with us are the same ones she used with the youth she counseled daily in her classroom.

6.Health At Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight, by Lindo Bacon

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Glenn Gaesser, PHD says, “Any person contemplating going on a diet to lose weight should read this book first.”  Every health professional who counsels people about weight control should absolutely read this book, read it again and make sure their clients read it.”  We couldn’t agree more here at Wellness Lately. This book is core-curriculum for us.  We send this book to clients and every member of our team has read it more than once.  The Author, Lindo Bacon, Ph.D., earned her doctorate in physiology, specializing in weight regulation, from the University of California, Davis. She also holds graduate degrees in psychology, specializing in eating disorders and body image, and exercise science, specializing in metabolism, and has professional experience as a researcher, clinical psychotherapist, exercise physiologist and educator.  Her research in this book highlights the harm a culture focused on weight as the primary dictator of health can cause people.  

7. Big Girl: How I Gave Up Dieting and Got a Life by Kelsey Miller

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Big Girl is another memoir that I love.  Memoirs add some entertainment into the self help genre. I swear in my heart I’ll always be 20-something, because these coming of age stories and books to improve body image always really speak to me. New York Daily news calls this book, “A tour de force on growing up, learning how to be healthy in mind, body and spirit.”  I loved it, I could relate to it, I laughed, I cried and I cheered for Kelsey as she forged forward on her path of Intuitive Eating at the same time I did in my own life.  

8.Open Your Heart: Learn to Love Your Life and Love Yourself by Gemma Cairney

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This book makes it to our Ten Best Books on Body Image list, but it honestly hits on a lot more than just body image. In this compilation of practical advice that some people refer to as a “best friend in a book,” the author, Gemma Cairney hits on the topics of family, bullying, body image, food, exercise, sex, gender and sexuality and more. It was a quick read for me, and would make a great gift to your best friend!

9. Body Kindness: Transform Your Health From The Inside Out – and Never Say Diet Again by Rebecca Scritchfield

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Body Kindness is a simple, easy “user manual” that teaches fundamentals in not only self love and self care but also intuitive eating.  Rebecca Scritchfield is a weight-neutral dietician that forged her own war against her body and decided instead to love herself and embrace the body she was given. This book is perfect for anyone that found themselves stuck in a cycle of diets, punishing exercise and a barrage of self hate. She also has a great podcast with similar content you should give a listen to.

10. The Body Project: An Intimate History of American Girls by Joan Jacob Brumberg. 

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This book is different from the others. Less self help or practical advice, this book is more a study in the history of how American girls have been raised to perceive themselves and others.  I feel like it gives context to the why and how our culture has gotten to where it is today.  For everyone concerned with adolescent girls growing up in a female body, knowing it is more difficult for them than ever, this book could glean awareness necessary to call diet culture out and truly see it for what it is. This book explores how cultural changes like social media, and physiological changes like earlier menstruation and sexual activity, put even greater emphasis on a girl being defined by her body. I like this book because it puts awareness on the fact that growing up as a girl has changed drastically over the past hundred years and the pressure is more intense than ever.  I can see giving this book to my daughter when she is 15 or so and allowing it to spark some valuable dialog between us about the unrealistic expectations we have for our girls these days. Ensuring that we do not pass down our own body image issues is a topic we write more about here.   

We hope you loved our favorite books to improve body image. Let us know if you have read any of these books and loved them as well.  If we left off a favorite of yours let us know!  We would love to add to the book shelf and are constantly looking for ways to offset the negative messages flying at us everyday.  If you are looking for more ways to improve your own body image, join us for our free video training course: How to Stop Hating Your Body, and if you’re looking for support to upgrade your body image, feel at ease around food and at home in your own skin, set up a free breakthrough call with one of our coaches! We’ll discuss the root of your food and body image challenges, and how you can move forward feeling confident in your body.

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