THE IMPORTANCE OF BODY POSITIVITY REP. IN YA BOOKS

 

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What do you love?

This is a simple question, I will give you a bit of time to leave it in the comments.  (scroll super fast down there please, no peeking!!!)

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When I think about this question, I think of the cliche yet truthful answers:  God, family, loved ones, friends.

Then you go to the other stuff: Pets, chocolate, music, books, writing

These are all the generic answers. God, loved ones, tangible objects, things you’re passionate about, etc.

But how long would it take you, how long would you have to keep listing things, for you to say that you love yourself?

boom there it is.

Media has programmed us into thinking, no… believing that we are not beautiful.  That the only way you could possibly be loved is because of how you look.  You see these skinny models showing off everything.  They are everywhere you look.  They are the models that showed off the clothes that you’re wearing right now, the ones that you are drowning in at any public place.  We are led to think that we are nowhere near as beautiful or skinny as the model, so we buy the clothes.  It’s genius actually.  Photo shopped girls make us wish we were just. like. them.

We need body image representation because nobody should wish to be like someone else just because of the number on the tag of their pants.   

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And I’m not just saying this as thin privilege or anti-thin people or whatever.  A lot of people are born skinny.  A lot of people are born with more curves.  It’s not all about what you eat, people.  Most of the models you see are photo shopped to the extreme.  What media wants you to believe is real beauty isn’t existent.

Because the truth is that everyone is beautiful.  Everyone deserves to be loved.  Everyone is ethereal.

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In starfish, by Akemi Dawn Bowman, we can tell that Kiko has a normal body.  But she is still not confident in herself.   Blonde girls with blue eyes and the “perfect” figure are pushed into the eyes of all to see and envy and aspire to be.  Kiko still is pushed to perfectionism.  We all are.  Even if you’re thin or curvy, or in between like many, we are never good enough.  Everything we see or have ever seen has assured us of that.  

We need focus on body positivity, or at least someone to relate to.  We need characters of all shapes in sizes. Because as you have noticed, America is filled with different races and cultures and religions and ethnicities.  But have you also seen how many different body types there are?

You can be healthy but not lose a single pound.  You can eat all you want and not gain a single pound.  The weight on the scale does not determine your worth.  The amount of space you take up in the world doesn’t either.  Because that’a all it is.  It’s how much space you take up.  And you have a lot of space, so take up all of the space you want!!  Wear clothes that make you feel beautiful!  You don’t have to suck in.

 

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We need both characters who are happy with their bodies just the way they are.  Those characters should be our role models, not the super models.

We also need character arcs where they are not comfortable or confident in the skin that God gave them, but learn to be.

We need to talk about the topic of eating disorders, the topic of unrealistic body expectations.

We need books where these types of characters have romance and love interests.

We need to show people that the Victoria’s secret models are not the only ones who are able to be loved.

We need this in modern literature, and we need it badly.

If you’ve ever thought, “I wish I could be her!”  Think about what you would miss if you really were her.  You wouldn’t know your friends or family.  You would never fulfill your dreams.  Because those are the things that are more important than any body ever could be.

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Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy really truly showed me what I have always wanted in a book.  It shows a woman confident in her body, who learns to be even more confident.  It shows that Willowdean can be a true beauty queen.  That she can be loved.

Willowdean was relatable.  Sometimes you want to be so confident about yourself and feel like you can take over the entire world, but everybody is constantly embedding in your mind that you can’t.

Required reading for people who have even the slightest insecurities about themselves.  I sat for hours reading it, crying over the realness.

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You may not be like the women in the magazine.  You’re real, and that makes you just as beautiful as them.  You may not be hourglass shaped, but you’re awesome shaped.  There are big girls who like their bodies, there are big girls who hate their bodies, and there are thin girls who hate their bodies and thin girls who like their bodies.  And there are a lot of girls in between ‘big’ and ‘thin’.  But that’s ok!  Because the worst thing you can do to your body is wish parts of it away, and to torture it just to fit the world’s standard.

You can be any size and be healthy.  If you eat well, you can still stay the same size.  You don’t have to go on a huge diet to make healthy choices, guys.

There is so much more to you or anybody than what they look like, even the models.  You can be the nastiest person and be any size.  And you can be the kindest person and still be any size.  Remember that.

Beauty comes in so many figures.

 

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59 Comments

  1. I didn’t peek! I love God, Family and Friends, Taylor Swift, Netflix, YouTube, Reading, Writing, Blogging, etc. Okay, now I’ll go finish reading your post! This was so so true, Samantha! Your posts are always amazing and they seem like you put a lot of time and effort into them! Great Job!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Sam, you’re awesome! I love this post. The thing is, no one will ever fit this crazy standard the world has set. But you’re perfect the way you are! Unlike a lot of girls my age I don’t wear makeup, which a lot of teens probably think is weird. But I think I, and everyone else, is beautiful. I know people who can’t leave the house or refuse to have a picture taken of them if they’re not wearing makeup… They think they aren’t beautiful without it, but they are. I don’t like wearing makeup because think if God wanted me to look the way I do with 50 pounds of makeup He would have made me that way. I don’t mind others wearing makeup, but I just want people to know they’re beautifully perfect without it too. Thank you for doing such an inspiring post, it was beautiful 🙂
    -Katie 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Once again Samantha you have hit it out of the park!!! I wish this could be published in the main steam media because this post is spot on and oh so true. You become more loveable by loving yourself. I try to see myself through the eyes of those that love me including God….hard to see yourself as anything but beautiful if you do this. Keep it up Sam, you are a true inspiration. XOXOXO Gma

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Wow, amazing post Sam!
    (I love my family, friends, Jesus, Design, my computer and we will just leave it at that)
    Most models aren’t even real people, they are just like you said Photoshop-ed and totally fake!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I LOVE THIS POST SO MUCH.
    This is all so true, I can’t even. I wish that this was a topic that people spoke about more often!!
    I’m not one of those “skinny” girls, and it’s taking me a while to be comfortable in the skin I’m in. I’m curvy. No matter how much exercise I do, or how much I diet, I can’t lose weight to be “skinny”. When I read books, I find it so hard to relate to characters in contemporary books sometimes because they’re all skinny and show that “perfect” girl that is shown in the other forms of media and what everyone is expected to look like!
    This was such a good post!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. So true. I have that same Be Inspired Journal! Here is a really great YouTube video about the makeup/photoshopping process back in 2006 – yes, 2006 – and it is crazy. Just think about what photoshop is like 12 years later!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I love love love love this post SO MUCH! Sam, everything you said is so true. A lot of books send the message that you should love yourself “even though” you’re not skinny or “even though” you have a disability, when the truth is that you should love yourself BECAUSE you aren’t skinny or BECAUSE you have a disability. People act like being a couple pounds heavier than a Victoria’s Secret model makes them fat or is a setback to being beautiful. I’ve had too many friends say that they hate their body or they think they’re fat when they really aren’t. And anyway, the only time being fat is bad is when it’s harmful to your health. It makes me so sad when beautiful girls put themselves down and say they need to be skinnier or prettier or taller or wear more make up. “Popular” and “pretty” people body shame girls who are not conventionally beautiful, and with social media allowing them to do so anonymously, it becomes easier to insult others and put them down. Girls think they have to work out constantly or eat less because they think it will help them achieve what they are told is the perfect body, because there is no one to tell them that the perfect body doesn’t exist. Books are really very influential, and while there are many (such as Dumplin’) that do a good job of expressing body positivity, there definitely do need to be more. Body positivity is important, but it shouldn’t be in novels just so that people like the book. It should be natural. (I hope this makes sense) When authors first imagine their characters, they shouldn’t be imagining cliché ones. A girl with a pant size of 8 should be the first character to mind, just as a size 0 girl would be. Another thing is that books often make being bigger the main focus of the plot. They constantly state that the character is “fat” or act as if their size affects their personality, which is total cow poo.
    I know this is a really long comment and I apologize for that, but this topic is really important to me too. You did a wonderful job on this, and I will definitely be reblogging or mentioning this in a recent post! Much love. ❤️

    Liked by 2 people

    1. PREACH PREACH PREACH
      even though is something I’ve never thought about before but I think u just changed my entire life with those few sentences sooo… xD
      Body positivity should be a theme that pops up just as much as coming of age or issues like racial prejudice or suicide because often they go hand in hand. Also, the book doesn’t have to revolve around the book being fat, it just needs to represent that not everyone is super tiny and stuff… idk I’m rambling now but long comment short this comment was so amazing!!!
      thank you so much dear!! ilysm ❤ ❤

      Liked by 2 people

  8. As usual, Samantha, you are wise beyond your years. This post is so important…sensitive and realistic in dealing with a pervasive problem, our image of ourselves. Hooray for those of us who are lucky enough to read it, and draw insights for each of our different, magnificent, unusual, brilliant selves. Well done! Love, grandma

    Liked by 3 people

  9. I LOVE this post, Sam!! I 1000% agree that there needs to be more body positivity rep in YA, or just self-love in general. I’m skinny (not underweight, but on the brink of it) so I can’t even possibly begin to imagine what larger people than me experience. I already hate parts of myself not concerning my weight, and weight is such a huge factor in how society deems you beautiful already that having more weight than what is socially accepted as beautiful would probably make me hate myself even more. It is SO SO important to represent people who don’t have much self-love irl through characters who DO have self-love (or at least their journey to it)!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. YES. Thank you sweetie!!! ❤
      I'm actually on the brink of being overweight, and I used to hate myself for it, but then I realized that I eat healthier than most people and my grandfather played pro nfl soooo, not much I could do about it xD Exactly!! We need characters who set examples here!!! Look at how many exclamation points I use!!! Wow I feel eccentric!!!

      Liked by 2 people

  10. Amazing Sam. I really loved this post. There’s this model, Hunter McGrady, who was once a size 02 and was told that she needed to be a size 00. Now, she’s a size 16 and is way more beautiful than she was as a size 02. The importance of self-love is what drives us mad, what makes our mental state screwed and what causes depression, anxiety, self-harm, binging, anorexia nervosa and all of the other mental illnesses and the dangers that impact on us as teens. What we really need is less hate in these books we read and less criticism, and basing yourself on some heavily PhotoShopped Instagram photo. It’s what we all do and what we all need to change. My science teacher said to our class today that we all need to wake up, look in the mirror, give ourselves and smile and a thumbs up and tell ourselves that we are strong, we can do it, we will get through it and we just have to be happy as we are. It’s really all that matters. None of this ‘I don’t look like her’ rubbish. Even horror books have that. And it’s what needs to change, what we as readers and writers need to stop and think about. We really just need to tell ourselves that no, we don’t want to read that and so no, we won’t write it.
    *applauds you* amazing post!
    ~Emily xo

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Oh my goodness, girl, this post is so brilliant! Whatever you said is so true, it is UNBELIEVABLE! So many girls these days care about what others think about their body, when in reality, they should care about what GOD thinks because that is wayyyyy more important. “But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”” (1 Samuel 16:7) I know you have a lot of words to read because of all the long comments in the comment section, so I’ll end here now. Before I go, I have one last thing to say: You deserve some cake, ice cream, chocolate, waffles, pancakes, lollipops, books, and pretty stuff because of how you spoke up about this. Stay amazingggg.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Oh Sam, how I wish I thought like this when I was 13. It would have saved me a rough few years of self doubt and self loathing. I am so proud of you for using your platform here to talk about this very important issue. Your words resonate so deeply with teens and with women of every age. You and your readers here are on the right track- I’m so proud of you all for thinking about body image in relation to self love and acceptance. You are totally right – we are bombarded throughout our lives with images and messages of supposed “perfection”. It is a real struggle to wade through that and see yourself as beautiful. I know you’ve heard me say this a hundred times but it’s so true – how boring would the world be if we were all the same? What makes this world so wonderful and interesting is that no two people are alike. What an amazingly phenomenal world we get to live in! You make my heart soar sweet girl.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Woah, Sam, THIS IS AN AMAZING AWESOMESAUCE POST! Do you realize how much this means to me? This is completely true! I’m constantly looking for more books with diverse body sizes! It helps remind me that even if my body may be big, if others may be small, it doesn’t change who we are at all!
    And I really need to get to reading Dumplin! Also, if you have any more body-positive books please share them!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Such a great post!!! Right now my mind is a jumble of thoughts because it brought up so many good points. All the thoughts are tumbling around in my head and fighting for attention so I am going to try and pull out the main contenders. So much to think about!

    1) Loving yourself is not just about body positivity. Outside of this post if you were to list yourself as something you love then people would probably call you self centered and egotistic. Like Gaston in Beauty and the Beast. But that is crap because you should love yourself!

    2) I read a book called “The Law of Tall Girls” and it was a great story about a girl coming to terms with her super tallness. So that is great to begin with but there is so much else that is awesome about that book! I loved it! One line that stuck in my head was when the main girl was gossiping with her best friend about how hot the new guy is, the best friend responds that she doesn’t think he is that good looking. She sees how he is perfect for the main girl but he just isn’t her idea of beauty. It was a “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” moment. I didn’t explain it very well, I made best friend sound snooty, but it was actually very positive. It was cool that main girl wasn’t fawning over the “hot guy” that everyone was looking at. He was just a normal (if not really tall) guy.

    3) Society tends to contradict themselves when it comes to body standards. Everyone want to look like the models and be super skinny, but yet when I tell people I want to start eating healthy and working out they tell me I am already skinny and don’t need to do anything. I am athletic and have always been decently skinny, but I am so out of shape right now. I used to be able to run 2 miles and now I probably couldn’t even jog one. But when I say I want to work out its met with negativity because people seem to think I want to work out to loose weight not to get healthy. And they think that if I think I need to loose weight when I am already skinnier than them then that means I think they are fat, which isn’t true! I don’t care about loosing weight! I just want to get in better shape! But even if I did want to loose a couple pounds what is wrong with that?!!? We are expected to be skinny but shammed when we want to actually do something about it!

    Sorry that turned into a little bit of a rant haha. But thanks for this post! It is awesome!

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Completely agree with this post! In saying that; I recently read an eARC for Big Bones by Laura Dockrill. Overweight MC who is actually comfortable with herself, her love for food. I loved it; it has such a beautiful message – even though there were one or two offensive things at the start of the novel but by the end of it you know that it was simply necessary to have those things mentioned in that way, really.
    So you can add that one to the list of books with curvier MC’s! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  16. really important post!!! Im so glad your talking about this right now. I think this is one of the most important things new books should be focusing on especially YA because its in a really important time when readers are still trying to figure out who they are. LOVED this post! Happy reading 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  17. This is a beautifully uplifting post! I’ve struggled with body image & my weight all my life. Long story short, I’ve grown more accepting & kinder towards myself. I completely agree with what you said, “You can be any size and be healthy. If you eat well, you can still stay the same size. You don’t have to go on a huge diet to make healthy choices.” Many people are so focused on getting thin they look over the more important aspects of health. One of them is having a healthy relationship with food and exercise. This I learned the hard way. Again, what a great post!

    Liked by 2 people

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