Book Review — The Body Is Not an Apology: The Power of Radical Self-Love by Sonya Renee Taylor

Rating: 4/5

Genre: Non-fiction, Self-help

This pioneering bestseller has become a rallying cry for a movement of radical self-love–the second edition shows readers how to grow the movement from self to systems and includes empowering stories from Sonya Renee Taylor’s travels around the world.

In a revolutionary departure from the capitalist-driven self-help and body-positivity movement, poet, author, and humanitarian Sonya Renee Taylor forges an inextricable bond between radical self-love and social justice. The first step is recognizing that we have all been indoctrinated into a system of body shame that profits off our self-hatred. This second edition includes stories from Taylor’s travels around the world combating body terrorism and shines a light on the path toward liberation guided by love. In a brand new chapter, Taylor confronts each of the “isms” and phobias, especially racism, sexism, ableism, homophobia, and transphobia, showing how radical self-love manifests in each space. Radical self-love not only dismantles shame and self-loathing in us but has the power to dismantle global systems of injustice–because when we make peace with our bodies, only then do we have the capacity to truly make peace with the bodies of others. Readers can also engage more deeply using the accompanying workbook, which builds on the ten tools and radical reflection and unapologetic inquiry exercises woven throughout the book. via Goodreads

“Taking up space we have previously been denied is a step toward bringing a just balance of power and resources (ie. space) in the world. It is an act of radical love.”

This book was exactly what I needed to read after one year of depression/stress-eating during the pandemic. Radical self-love! I am all here for it!

I’m not a huge fan of self-help books, but what makes this one different is it doesn’t come across as preachy and there is research including race theory to explain existing societal prejudices. There are many asks to examine our own internal preconceived notions as well.

“Proposing that humans are all the same leaves the idea of the default body uninterrogated in our subconscious and firmly in place in our world, forcing all other bodies to conform or be rendered invisible.”

I particularly found how Taylor incorporates transgender bodies, disabled bodies (visible and invisible), aging bodies, and bodies of color into the narrative insightful and necessary. Overall, this is a great book to jumpstart or continue your journey of body acceptance and radical self-love.

  • I learned new ways to describe issues I never had the words for:
    • Poodle science: applying solutions and medical advice in a one size fits all mindset. ie “what if the poodles decided that all other dogs should look, eat, and be the same size as poodles” when the truth is that dogs come in all shapes and sizes depending on their breed
    • Health Trolling or Concern Trolling: offering advice (usually ill advised and/or coming from a stranger) to criticize a body under the guise of concern for someone’s health
    • Meta-shame: shame for feeling shame. Think of it like “I feel guilty that I feel guilty”
  • Interspersed throughout the books are little calls to actions called “Unapologetic Inquiries” and “Radical Reflections”

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