Hey guys! Welcome back to my little corner of the internet where I’m loving putting out content for y’all! I’ll proudly admit that I love to geek out over literature — as should be required when becoming an English major.
For today’s Book Journey, I want to talk about love. Self-love. You know, that thing that seems awfully hard to come by and equally hard to incorporate into our lives. In my experience, it’s sometimes as elusive as the Loch Ness Monster or an Area 51 alien.
That being said, allow me to proclaim the understatement of the century: We all have our insecurities. When we’re born, we take the utmost pleasure in discovering new parts of our bodies, be that our fingers or toes. Eventually, when we’re old enough to become more socially aware, society conditions us to reject what we possess and covet what we do not. The body is not an exception to this phenomenon.
Perhaps an over-dramatic but relatable example: At 11 years old, I refused to let on that I was comically near-sighted. I told no one, roped my desk-mate into reading to me whatever was written on the whiteboard, and readily accepted that I would never be able to read a street sign. Flash-forward to a mandatory eye-exam from the school nurse and a concerned phone call made to my parents, and I was suddenly picking out frames at the optometrist, cursing my family’s genetic pool. Not only would I now be sporting glasses (tragic, pink, Kate Spade wire frames), but this was the year I also struck out at the orthodontist’s office and got braces. It was, in my mind, the perfect storm.
I know this is quite an exaggerated retelling of an instance in my childhood but these early incidents became the breeding ground for my insecurities. Being an adolescent means to be inherently conscious of how the outside world perceives you. That’s puberty for you. But what happens after you blossom into a young adult and still find yourself caught in the tidal wave of self-hate?
There have been days where I refuse to look in the mirror, ashamed of different parts of my body that I figure if I don’t acknowledge won’t exist. Other times, I’m tied to the mirror, eyes glazed over as I make a mental note of all the impurities I see reflected back at me.
Enter Sonya Rennee Taylor’s The Body Is Not an Apology, a celebratory reminder that our bodies are different and beautiful and powerful and important no matter how it may look.
Sonya Renee Taylor is the founder of The Body Is Not an Apology digital media and education company; her book of the same name preaches the idea of ‘radical self-love,’ her main ideology and something that she explains is different from previous body positive movements.
“Concepts like self-acceptance and body neutrality are not without value. When you have spent your entire life at war with your body, these models offer a truce. But you can have more than a cease-fire. You can have radical self-love because you are already radical self-love.”
As I reflect now on instances when I felt more comfortable with my body and confident in my appearance, I recognize now that those emotions fell under the umbrella of self-acceptance rather than self-love. Aspects of myself that I didn’t like still remained, and only a defeated sense of acceptance distracted from my unhappiness. I wasn’t celebrating myself; I was only offering a white flag to the negative self-talk that for so long had consumed me.
I see it in others, too. Take a shopping trip with friends, for example. How many times can the group of us complain about our bodies during 15-minutes in the fitting room? It upsets me when my friends put themselves down because of their appearance; can’t they see what I see? The Body Is Not an Apology counters that essence of thought by pointing out that we don’t treat our bodies with the same care and admiration. I can tell a friend with complete honesty that I think they look amazing, but it feels like a Herculean task to say the same to my reflection in the mirror.
Even if you haven’t begun your own journey towards radical self-love, you may be witnessing someone else’s self-love transformation. As important as it is to apply this thinking to ourselves, it’s important to be conscious of others’ journeys as well.
“Dismantling oppression and our role in it demands that we explore where we have been complicit in the system of body terrorism while employing the same compassion we needed to explore our complicity in our internalized body shame.”
This book is not meant to be the cure-all, end-all solution to body shame. Instead, Taylor encourages you to see it as a guidebook, a gentle reminder, a whisper of hope. To see the world through rose-colored glasses and attempt to recreate that same optimistic perception. The road to loving yourself, rawly and radically and earnestly, will not be an easy one. But won’t it be beautiful in the end?
I’m Dana, a recent college grad from Sonoma State University and newly appointed Social Media Intern here at A+D here to chat with you every Tuesday and Friday. I’m excited to be a part of and witness the publishing process through the lens of a boutique agency. It’s so cool to be a part of a publishing movement specializing in artistic branding and helping contemporary writers craft their written work. Here, we’ll chat about the books that are changing and shaping our lives! So, here’s the place to explore them, to let them out. You can just think of me as your modern-day Bridget Jones – the bookish version!