We know they’ll never be quite as big business as diet books, but over the past few years, some fat-positive books have broken through into mainstream publishing. Although they’re few and far between, books like these can make a huge difference in giving people the ability to feel seen and heard, as well as raising the profile and recognising the body of work of the author.
Happy Fat – Sofie Hagen
Of course Happy Fat by hilarious comedian Sofie Hagen is funny, but it’s also kind and warm and thoughtful. It’s about her, but it’s also about lots of other experiences of fatness, which is evidenced by the brilliant sections where she talks to contributors who can bring something to the overall picture of what it means to be a fat person now and through history. It’s not a memoir for our consumption, but more in the way that Sofie’s experiences illustrate and illuminate the wider, more structural issues that she aims to communicate throughout the book.
Am I Ugly? – Michelle Elman
No less provocatively-titled is Am I Ugly? by Michelle Elman, aka ScarredNotScared. Michelle is a plus size woman who is also trying to reckon with the scars she’s been left with after a childhood filled with complex surgeries. It’s a personal story that spans Michelle’s physical and mental wellbeing from childhood to adulthood and seeks to bridge the gap and reconcile the two. It’s a really interesting look at the way illness clashes with our understanding of beauty.
Plus+ – Bethany Rutter
Ok, so full disclosure: this is my book. But in many ways, it’s not my book at all, because it features more than 100 plus size people from around the world. I aimed for it to be a catalogue of style inspiration, and maybe a record of the people who inspired me too. There weren’t enough pages for me to be able to include everyone whose style I love, but I hope that anyone who picks it up finds someone they’ve never seen before.
Landwhale – Jes Baker
Continuing the grand tradition of fat-positive books with provocative titles, Jes, also known as The Militant Baker, went straight for the internet bro’s insult of choice when it came time to name her book. This isn’t her first time at the rodeo: while her first book, Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls, was a punchy manifesto, featuring essays from guest contributors and research, Landwhale is more of a memoir that looks at Jes’ inner world and personal approach to the self-exploration and uncompromising attitude that lets her take the insults and wrestle them into submission.
The Body Is Not An Apology – Sonya Renee Taylor
The beautifully-named The Body Is Not An Apology is Sonya Renee Taylor’s call to arms for radical self-love. In a world that is so often unkind- not least to fat black women like Sonya- the book tries to teach the reader ways of meeting that unkindness with a different way of seeing, a different way of being. It asks where self-hatred comes from, and who it serves. It’s no surprise she’s a poet, as this is a book brimming with humanity, compassion and a belief in change.