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Book Review – Embody Learning to Love Your Unique Body (and quiet that critical voice)

Ever on the lookout for books to help people feel better about their bodies, I found one in Embody: Learning to Love Your Unique Body (and quiet that critical voice!) by Connie Sobszak, co-founder of The Body Positive.

Sobszak begins by explaining that, “When we become ‘embodied’—choosing to live consciously in our bodies and thereby giving our spirits a physical home—we can experience love for our ‘flawed’ human selves.” The Body Positive model moves away from trying to fix what you perceive is wrong with your body to a “practice of improving and maintaining self-care behaviors that are motivated by positive rather than punishing forces.” Act from your “wants,” she’s saying, not from someone else’s “shoulds.”

The book is divided into five competencies. In “Reclaim Health” Sobszak offers a weight-neutral, pleasure-focused approach to getting and staying healthy. She encourages readers to find pleasure in self-care rather than see it as a chore. “Practice Intuitive Self-care” gets you to think about what is right for your unique self and body, not someone else’s. It moves you away from group think to ways you can take care of yourself that bring you pleasure. She encourages trial and error and for you to stop seeking the advice of experts and instead discover what is best for you.

In “Cultivate Self-Love,” the focus is on loving your entire self, body and all. You can’t just pick and choose among body parts, but must see yourself as a whole entity that is lovable no matter what your size is or how you look. She explains how to love yourself even with your frailties and foibles which we all have, and advises that you must choose self-love every minute of every day. In “Declare Your Own Authentic Beauty,” she discusses cultural obstacles to valuing your body, explaining the difference between confidence and conceit, and warns of the dangers of making physical comparisons.

Her final chapter, “Build Community,” tells you how to do that, including advice to seek out people who love their diverse bodies, opt out of all discussions which denigrate bodies or body parts, keep away from people who want a perfect body, and focus on gaining more of a self rather than losing weight. After all, if your friends are always yapping about diets and ragging on their bodies, what can you possibly learn about body love from them? This book is full of valuable exercises and uses examples from Body Positive participants to make the book really come alive and touch your heart.