Author: Jes Baker aka The Militant Baker
In brief: A body-positivity missive that advocates for accepting and loving our bodies as they currently are
Good for: Recovery – focus on body image
I like to refer clients to first-person narratives when they’re working on body image themes in our nutrition work, especially when they’re struggling with the belief that they’re allowed to eat the foods they want without shame or compensation, and Jes Baker’s is one I’ll add to the list of recommended titles. It’s not one I’d recommend if you’re super new to this exploration process, but it’s worth reading if you’re ready for it. It’s good for women who are starting to embrace recovery and body acceptance but have reservations about whether these ideas are truly possible or if there are actually women out there who live these philosophies in real life. Jes Baker’s approach is radical acceptance of fat bodies. She states weight loss isn’t a prerequisite to health or happiness, saying, “we aren’t ever told that our bodies are OK just the way they are. Right now.” The idea is that the way we view our bodies impacts the way we participate in the world, and people don’t need to lose weight before they have positive experiences in life.
She starts with a historical framework for judging bodies, especially women’s. She goes on to explore different facets of life where living in a fat body can come with its own hurdles – hence the “Handbook” in the title (check out page 127 on how to support yourself when having a bad day). Guest essays and fat-people challenges punctuate the primary narrative, which has the added benefit of introducing readers to other names in the body positivity movement and looking at life in a fat body through different lenses.
Mostly importantly, Jes acknowledges that adopting the mantle of radical acceptance of fat bodies isn’t always easy. She avoids the added layer of shame that can come from admonitions to “just love your body already.” I like that there’s an outlet for anger at having invested in a dieting system that’s failed. She describes the diet industry as “selling us insecurity to keep us repeat customers.” In my practice, I’ve seen that moving toward a position of body positivity can involve emotions of loss and anger because we’ve spent so much time, money, and energy on trying to fix our bodies. Being told or realizing that “fixing” our bodies isn’t a solution because bodies aren’t a problem can be painful.
Reservations: May not be appropriate for adolescents (mild reservation – if you’re OK listening to the language in Beyoncé, this will be fine for you)