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Body Outlaws by Ophira Edut

Bella Book: Body Outlaws

Full disclosure: My friend Ophira Edut is the editor of this book, but that's not why I like it. Body Outlaws is a collection of essays that challenges the idea that only tall, skinny, blonde and Caucasian women can be beautiful. (Fun fact: The first edition of this book was called Adios, Barbie.) If you've ever hated your body, been too critical of your face, or been made to feel too short, too fat, too hairy, too unattractive... you should pick up this book.

Most of the essays are by young women who reject our culture's often-exclusionary view of beauty. It's a diverse collection of stories that all involve beauty, body image, and the difficulty of accepting yourself in a culture obsessed with physical "perfection." For instance, Lisa Jervis describes how she feels about the size of her nose, especially in contrast with her mom, who's had a nose job. And plus-size model Kate Dillon reveals how her modeling agency talked to her about her "weight problem" (she was 5'11 and weighed 125 pounds at the time).

This book is nine years old, but it doesn't feel dated. In a way, I wish it did—if it meant that women finally felt beautiful as they are. But until we get there, consider this a booster shot for your self-esteem and body image. Have any of you read the book? If so, what did you think of it?

Join The Conversation
cougar41 cougar41 9 years
Sounds like a great book to read when I am feeling a little down about the way I look.
GlowingMoon GlowingMoon 9 years
I may be out of the loop here, but I never thought the only epitome of beauty was to be Caucasian, tall, and blonde. I live in an area of ethnic diversity. Believe you me when I tell you beauty comes in ALL races and colors. I've met Hispanic beauties, Asian Beauties, Black beauties, etc (in addition to Caucausian beauties). Personally, I'm hard-pressed to decide which is the most beautiful, because if someone is hot, they're hot. There's a much broader definition of beauty, and there's a universal appeal about it. Beauty is not limited to being Caucasian, tall, and blonde. JMHO.
breakbrooklyn breakbrooklyn 9 years
beauty is such a variable thing and it's sad that people don't realize that. for instance i think anjelina jolie is stunning but all of my guy friends find her unattractive as do many of my girl friends. i'm sure anjelina isn't killing herself over the fact that not everyone thinks she's beautiful though so it's sad that everyday girls can't realize the same thing. just b/c one person doesn't think you're pretty/beautiful doesn't mean you aren't. you have to believe that you're pretty and don't let society sway you. sounds cheesy i know but it's the truth.
Rachel419 Rachel419 9 years
Sounds like a good read!
mleiv mleiv 9 years
I dunno, but I kinda feel that this is really just a symptom of our culture of want. We all want to live in gorgeous homes with all the nicest stuff, we want our perfect little families with all the nicest toys and clothes and schools... hello!?! Accept who you are and where you are in life, instead of blaming society and tv and fashion for showing you what you can't have. I think models are gorgeous and I love to look at them, but I can accept that I will never *BE* them. I also meet beautiful people every day who are just next-door beautiful (versus Natalie Portman stunning). But if you aren't even average beautiful (Like I think most mornings when I look in the mirror), maybe you are funny, maybe you are smart, maybe you are crafty. Maybe you've got nothing. Who cares? Be happy with who you are, make the best of it, and get on with living. We can't all be Paris Hilton... thank god!
Beauty Beauty 9 years
Some "friend" that was, Retro Bunny. And I definitely hear what you're saying about people assuming that if you ARE white/blonde/thin, your life is automatically awesome. That's just not the case. One of the things I like about the book is its acknowledgment that even people who *do* fit those narrow ideals still aren't guaranteed an easy time.
Retro-Bunny Retro-Bunny 9 years
Great book, but for the record, tall, thin-to-average blonde caucasian girls also have a lot of pressure to be perfect on them. I mean, based on my short adolescent life, sticking out of the crowd as a tall blonde teen is tough in it's own way. It's almost as if people believe that you should constantly look perfect, or be super-thin. I've had a "friend" of mine compare my weight to a model's, and say, "Well, you're both the same height, so why can't you be the same weight? Lay of the cookies." Also, if you just mention that you have one insecurity, people jump down your throat!
emalove emalove 9 years
Sounds great, I would definitely read it.
Beauty Beauty 9 years
I should add that it would be a good gift for teenage girls, too. My niece just turned 16, and I think she's at the right age when I can finally give her a copy. Speaking of which, oof, I would NOT want to be 16 again.
Lovely_1 Lovely_1 9 years
Sounds beautiful! I would love to read it!
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