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September's Top 5 Recommended Reading

Finding books that tie into people's individual self-esteem and well being are shockingly hard to come by. Take a glance at the top 10 any given week, or just look at the book series that are currently popular; I, for one, don't see any attention at all being placed upon the topic of size-acceptance and loving yourself. Step into your local bookstore and look around - we're being inundated by fad diets, alleged miracle cures, and an industry that thrives on making its consumers hate themselves more and more and seeking a false salvation by way of paying their way to social acceptance. Well, no more. It's time to turn the tables on those hateful individuals and look at literature from over the past two decades about the people who are striving to find peace of mind - and peace of body - about their size and their roles in the modern world. Below are five books, not one priced over $20 USD, I recommend for you to discover this month.

#1 - Self-Esteem Comes in All Sizes, by Carol A. Johnson, MA. (2001)

"For large women who are tired of unsuccessful dieting and feeling bad about their size, this book offers specific things they can do to feel attractive, sexy, and happy at their natural weight. Upbeat and affirmative, it features empowering personal stories, a Large Person's Bill of Rights, updated research on obesity and genetics, and resources for plus-size women."

"Carol Johnson is a character and she shines in this upbeat book on loving yourself. Carol is my heroine!" -- Lindsey Hall, author of Full Lives

"If anyone can convince you of the power of positive thinking about your size, it is Carol Johnson!" -- William J. Fabrey, Director, Council on Size & Weight Discrimination

"This book radiates Johnson's warmth, vitality and confidence. She makes people feel good about themselves." -- Healthy Weight Journal

Sliding in at #1 is a well-documented book that strikes hard the irons of the scientific community and its societal underpinnings. It's a bit older now, but the points it strives to illustrate are timeless.

#2 - The Invisible Woman: Confronting Weight Prejudice in America, by Charisse W. Goodman. (1995)

"A recent survey of American women found that a great many of them would rather be dead than fat. In every corner of the United States, fat children and adults are subject to ridicule and humiliation. The word "pretty" never applies to them, they are "pigs" "cows" or "hippos," and regardless of their eating behavior, they are viewed as "out of control" compulsive eaters. When it's time to choose teammates for a game, dates for a dance, or even just friends, heavy women are invisible."

At #2 is a cold, hard look at how society treats women of size. I like this one in particular due to Goodman's take-no-prisoners analysis of modern prejudices. Her stance is powerful and compelling and no matter how you feel on these issues, this book deserves a serious study.

#3 - Losing It: False Hopes and Fat Profits in the Diet Industry, by Laura Fraser. (1998)

"Fraser chronicles the corresponding growth of a $50 billion a year industry that provides false hope in exchange for cash. In this meticulously researched journey through Dietland, Fraser gives the inside scoop on: -- Diet drugs, including the controversial phen/fen-- Diet gurus Richard Simmons, Susan Powter, and Dean Ornish-- Commercial weight loss centers, including Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers-- Weight-loss products like thigh creams and diet cookies. Provocative, political, and personal, this revealing book is a remarkable work of investigative journalism and an enthralling, compelling story with almost universal relevance."

#3 is a little bit dated, but I feel it shares some powerful evidence about the weight-loss industry and it's vitriolic tactics that it uses to viciously coerce its users into staying loyal. This piece hits hard on governmental policies, industrial tactics, and commercial abuse in the modern world and is a must-read for anyone concerned with size-acceptance.

#4 - Real Gorgeous: The Truth about Body and Beauty, by Kaz Cooke. (1996)

"Take it from Kaz Cooke: "There are millions of gorgeous body shapes. Yours is one of them. Dieting doesn't work. Your thighs are pretty cute. Exercise should be fun not duty. Cheap cosmetics can be as good as expensive ones. Advertising lies. Plastic surgery sucks. Modeling can be miserable. You can recover from an eating disorder. You can read magazines and watch television critically. You can fight the Body Police.""

#4 might be my personal favorite, due to its excellent balance of hitting the nail right on the head without ever losing its sense of humor. This one touches upon many similar themes we've seen before, but the down-to-earth style of personable writing makes it easy to pick up and hard to put down.

#5 - You Are Not What You Weigh: Escaping the Lie and Living the Truth, by Lisa Bevere (1998)

"It is time for women to stop measuring themselves by the numbers on the scale! How many women out there are tired of the tyranny of dieting? Millions! With candor and a gentle spirit, Lisa Bevere shares powerful insights and liberating principles she discovered through her own personal struggles with weight."

And lastly, #5 is a more religiously-themed iteration of size-acceptance and all that it entails. It's a personal tale about acceptance and coming to terms with oneself and their size. The book also received an update a few years after its original publication, so there's more than one version floating around, but no matter which one you pick up, you're sure to be deeply touched by the moving, gentle styles Mrs. Bevere embodies in her writing.

Written by: Jeff M.


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~W.H. Auden

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