c.2023, various publishers
$26.99 – $29.00
various page counts
By Terri Schlichenmeyer
The Truth Contributor
The last two apps you downloaded were for diets. Ugh.
Friends say that you’re perfect but you’d like to lose your flabby arms, your thick thighs, and a few inches from your belly. You imagine what you’d be like if you were a size 6. You wonder if you could wear skinny boots again. But before you download another app, read these books about Black women’s health and body image…
There’s not just one, but at least two books out this spring that ask if it isn’t time for Black women to reclaim positive self-images about their bodies.
It’s Always Been Ours by eating disorder specialist Jessica Wilson (Go Hachette, $29.00), looks at the politics of Black women’s bodies. You don’t need to be told that this isn’t a new thing but the true history of Black women and the harm such negativity has done may still surprise you; Wilson also pulls in the works of novelists, friends, influencers, and others to get the best, most interesting look at the subject. If you want a call to action, this is it.
Along those lines, author Chrissy King says that body liberation is what Black women should strive for, and in The Body Liberation Project (Penguin Random House, $28.00), she also offers ways to achieve body freedom. What sets her book apart from the Wilson book is less history, more personal tales and thought-provoking question-pages to get readers thinking about how they’ve been thinking about their bodies. Again, there could be surprises in what you learn about yourself.
With these books, King and Wilson advocate for the individual as well as for all Black women and if it feels difficult to you to pick between these two books, then don’t. Read them together or concurrently and you’ll be happier.
But okay, you love your body. Your legs, your arms, your shoulders and hair and smile – so how do you keep all that gorgeousness healthy? You can start with Black Women’s Wellness by Melody T. McCloud, MD (Sounds True, $26.99) and learn. Indeed, even if you’re feeling well and looking great, this book explains how to keep yourself that way, starting with what looks like healthy for a Black woman. From there, McCloud touches upon things like cancer, HIV, heart disease, and diabetes before moving on to reproductive health, sex, relationships, and mental health. It’s written in real language, and everything is in simple, easy-to-understand, authentic terms created for grown-ups.
Beware that Black Women’s Wellness isn’t a replacement for your doctor or clinic, but it’s a nice question-answerer and a good launching point for knowing your body.
If these three books aren’t exactly what you’re looking for, be sure to ask your favorite librarian or bookseller. Admittedly, there aren’t a lot of modern, new books out there about body image for women of color, but a bookish person can help you find what you need. They’ll be able to put the book in your beautiful hands, your soft arms, for your gorgeous eyes.
There’s no app for that.