For more than 50 years, February has been synonymous with Black History Month, a time to commemorate the contributions that Black Americans have made to history, politics, literature, pop culture, and all other facets of society. While February continues to be a month devoted to calling attention to these accomplishments, it is important to note that honoring the work of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) communities and individuals should not be limited to a few short weeks. To that end, we have put together a list of several empowering books written by BIPOC authors that we feel would make an enlightening and impactful addition to your reading list at any time of year.
Big is a new children’s picture book that tells the story of a young child grappling with other people’s perceptions of her size. This is a poignant tale of self-acceptance in the wake of the harmful body image messages that our society thrusts upon children, and it was inspired by events from Vashti Harrison’s own childhood. Big has definitely resonated with the public: just last month, Harrison learned that she had won the King Author Honor, the King Illustrator Honor, and Caldecott Medal (as the first black female recipient) - all on the same day.
We at Family & Child Therapy read this eye-opening book as a team and highly recommend it. Now in its second edition, The Body is Not an Apology: The Power of Radical Self Love is Sonya Renee Taylor’s love letter to humans everywhere who long to embrace body positivity in spite of systemic oppression and societal judgment. So often, it is possible to read a book and wonder how to apply it to the context of one’s own life. Taylor answers this call with Your Body is Not an Apology, an interactive workbook that gives readers the space to process their own experiences and emotions as they begin their journey of healing and self-empowerment. Listen to Taylor discuss her work on a fascinating episode of the Brené Brown Podcast.
By: Sabrina Strings
After several jarring conversations with both family members and strangers, Sociologist Sabrina Strings decided to research how society’s obsession with thinness has been influenced by racist ideologies over time. The result is Fearing the Black Body: The Racial Origins of Fat Phobia, a sweeping historical deep dive that spans from pre-slave trade Renaissance artwork to modern misconceptions about the validity of BMI measurements. As she explained in an NPR interview about the book, Strings hopes that the perspective and evidence her work provides will help readers develop “a positive relationship to their bodies and to cultivate health within themself and their communities that does not rely on fat stigma”.
It is worth noting that all of the aforementioned books were written by women, and they all happen to address the complex topic of body image as it is woven into the BIPOC community. Not only is this timely given the fact that February is also Eating Disorder Awareness Month, but it also highlights the importance of respecting and lifting up the human form in its infinite shapes and sizes. If any of these books bring about questions for you regarding your identity, your parenting needs, or your own relationship with your body, know that we are always here to help.