“Keeping women busy with body concerns is one way of making sure they stay quiet and obedient — of keeping them shrinking, literally and metaphorically.”Alex Light, You Are Not A Before Picture
Title: You Are Not a Before Picture: How to finally make peace with your body, for good
Author: Alex Light
Genres: Non-fiction, Self-Help
Pages: 288 (Hardcover)
Publish Date: August 16th, 2022
My Rating: ★★★★★
Read: 8/12/2022 – 8/16/2022
Happy U.S. publication day!
Where do I start?! This is a book I didn’t realize I needed to read until I began. Though I’ve been fairly fortunate not to get stuck in the diet cycle, that hasn’t taken away the feelings of inadequacy I’ve felt about my body for most of my life. This book is an eye-opener.
Growing up in a family riddled with various eating disorders, I’m no stranger to the harm body image issues do to mental and physical health. On one side, I grew up the fat cousin, and comments and attitudes toward me were between the lines. On the other side, I was the thinnest, and yet I was constantly subjected to blatant body-shaming. Sometimes it was directed at me despite being the closest to the ‘ideal’ weight, but more painfully, I had to witness it happening to people I loved. My body image issues have resulted in overall low self-esteem even if my weight hasn’t been the main focus of this. I just accepted I was the ‘ugly duckling’ and the result was, and still is, letting myself be walked over. It didn’t stop at family, either. Being the heaviest of most of my friends as a teenager was damaging as well.
I wish this book had been around for me then.
Along with a history of how we’ve arrived at the ‘thin is good, fat is bad’ mentality we’ve been groomed to believe, Alex Light debunks the myths we’ve come to accept as fact. ‘Skinny people can’t be unhealthy’, ‘Fat people can’t be healthy’, and in general the moral issue that has become different food groups. She provides sets of healthy, reasonable, and achievable guidelines to live your best life in the natural body you were given. Her own story and battle with self-image are intertwined through all of this providing so much inspiration.
In the time that I’ve been reading this book, I’ve found myself more aware of the toxicity in the media surrounding weight. There have been so many red flags all along that I’ve been blind to because the diet culture mentality has become such an accepted part of life. While I personally swore off diets quickly, the trade-off was/is thinking I’m not good for much and will never achieve anything because I lack the willpower to do what I need to do to be ‘successful’. After reading this book, I’m already starting to question my own thought process. I eat when I’m hungry because I feel miserable if I don’t… I can’t believe it took seeing it in ink to realize that’s not a bad thing.
No matter what your personal struggle is with weight and/or body image, I highly recommend reading this book. I learned so much and have felt inspired since the first chapter. My point of view on these matters will never be the same.
A huge thanks to HarperCollins/Harper360 for providing me with a free ARC to read and review.
Likes & Dislikes:
What I liked:
- The history behind the ‘ideal look’ we live with and try to achieve today.
- Practical goals to strive for in your own time.
- Debunking myths and statistics.
- The hopeful tone of the book. Reading it was like letting out a breath I didn’t know I was holding.
What I didn’t like:
- A few passages had political undertones. Personally, I don’t find body image a political issue, however, I can only speak for myself and my perception.
- Some repetitiveness.
I got so much out of this book and it came to me at a good time. I was asked if I would like to review this book not even a week after stressing over visiting family members that I have a rocky history with as far as weight is concerned. I fretted for a month about a visit that lasted twenty minutes. While my go to response was not starving myself (actually, I ate more), I did spend a couple of days trying to figure out what I could wear that would make me look as thin as possible. The family issues are rooted so deep that I don’t know if I will ever be able to face certain people without trudging up old trauma surrounding the subject, but I am hopeful that going forward I can use the exercises in this book to help combat my reaction to these visits. I won’t go into the entire history of my own body image issues, but I’ll leave it by saying I feel a sense of rejuvenation from this book. Being able to connect to different parts of Alex Light’s story resonated with me deeply.