Contributed by: Ellen Herbert, LCSW
While the wave of body positivity messages from influencers, celebrities and fitness gurus has been refreshing and certainly is a well-intentioned improvement from one-size (literally) fits all beauty standards of the past, Drs. Lindsay and Lexie Kite, sisters and co-authors of More Than a Body, are here to expose the inadequacy of the “everyBODY is beautiful!” message!
Prior to reading their book, I thought these kinds of body positivity messages were helpful—and at worst, innocuous. However, More Than a Body examines the true impact of our culture’s obsession with bodies and makes a gripping case for questioning everything we thought we knew about body image.
When we compliment a person’s body on its beauty—even beauty that is inclusive of many different looks, sizes and shapes—we reinforce the idea that a body is only as good as it looks. The Kite sisters put it best in one of many standout phrases from their book:
“Positive body image isn’t thinking your body looks good; it is knowing your body is good, regardless of how it looks.” Pg. 7
What if we recognize that our bodies are not the expression of our worth, but instead are the instruments we use to fulfill our deepest aspirations, live actively and productively, and show up in the world? That mindset shift would truly be revolutionary! The Kites are meticulous in spelling out evidence from their own and other experts’ research as well as giving lived examples making for a book that is both convincing and relatable.
This book would be a phenomenal read with a group of friends or within your family and could lead to many wonderful discussions on how we can develop that true, ‘my body is an instrument, not an ornament’ positive body image. My wish—sequel idea?!—is that this book actually spent more time on the how to. My take is, if you love something, you take care of it well. Trying to love something we are constantly judging, criticizing and punishing is a losing battle. Therefore, if we can love our bodies, we’ll naturally care for them in healthy ways through balance in our diet, movement, social media and entertainment viewing and posting habits, fashion choices and thought processes.
More Than A Body may not be a complete guide on living with a positive body image separate from how we think we look to others, but it makes a convincing argument that any other type of body image is flawed. I highly suggest this book for anyone interested in understanding why embracing ‘body positivity’ has not brought them the peace and satisfaction they expected.