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Body Outlaws: Rewriting the Rules of Beauty and Body Image
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Body Outlaws: Rewriting the Rules of Beauty and Body Image

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  472 ratings  ·  36 reviews
Pick up a magazine, turn on the TV, and you'll find few women who haven't been fried, dyed, plucked, or tucked. In short, you'll see no body outlaws.
The writers in this groundbreaking anthology reveal a world where bodies come in all their many-splendored shapes, sizes, colors, and textures. In doing so, they expand the national dialogue on body image to include race, eth
Paperback, 400 pages
Published January 1st 2004 by Seal Press (first published 2000)
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3.89  · 
Rating details
 ·  472 ratings  ·  36 reviews

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Amy Herron gave me this book one year during the winter holidays. (She celebrates Hanukkah; I don't celebrate any of those winter holidays anymore, but I come from a Christmas background.)

Anyway, this book is all about young women loving their bodies, including fat, scars, hair, tattoos, piercings, etc. It is a rocking book and should be read by all women and men. Fuck those corporate beauty standards ladies and gentlemen.
Oct 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I was never so proud to be a woman than when I read this book. Some of the essays were much better written than others, but that didn't change how inspired I was after reading each individual experience.

No one other than Diana Courvant could have convinced me that stripping could actually be cathartic, only Jennifer Berger could have convinced me that skinny women have problems too. It was Regina Williams that really helped me by dispelling the myth of the BMI chart (hint: it was derived based o
Jan 07, 2015 rated it it was ok
Not terrible, but authors were more petty criminals than outlaws as the title would suggest. It would be nice to read something where people are unapologetic in their body acceptance, rather than people who are still struggling to find it, but there is value in reading the personal stories of those on the journey. Submissions from men that were included were highly problematic with respect to misogyny and unexamined privilege.
May 02, 2009 rated it really liked it
Definitely one of my more enjoyable feminist/body image reads. This is a collection of essays written by women of color, lesbians, strippers, and academics. To name a few. All of these are women resisting the societal expectations of the perfect woman. There were several essays that made me face my own unreasonable expectations, and recognize the limits I place on myself and others.

Like any book of essays from a variety of authors, some were stronger than others. And with any group of essays on
Mar 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Body Outlaws is a challenging book. I think it challenges women to think differently about their body issues, the issues of the women around them, and to look at the structures in place that are designed to make women feel insecure. Also, while a reader might not love every chapter, I think there's a chapter in the book for everyone. It addresses being a woman of color, the choice to not shave, being thin, being fat, tattoos, modeling, food, and ethnic features.

It's well written, and while I mi
Jul 19, 2010 rated it it was amazing
So this is an amazing book. I wish someone had given it to me as a teenager. It is a collection of non-fiction essays about women (and one man) and their choices, issues, and insecurities about their bodies. It is a totally uplifting and encouraging read that lets people know that they aren't alone in their struggle with how they feel about themselves. I loved this book and would recommend that well, every teenager and woman in America read it. It's really all about loving yourself. Many thumbs ...more
May 01, 2010 rated it really liked it
An incredibly silly cover with a horrible shade of green, but, well, don't judge a book by it's cover. This book has some really great essays on everything from body image to ethnicity to sexuality. Reading this book, in all honesty, boosted my self-esteem. And a book that can do that deserves at least four stars.
Cristina Sherer
Aug 15, 2018 rated it liked it
While I enjoyed getting a primary account perspective on the late-90's/early 00's body positivity and health at every size movement, I found a great deal of the advice and wisdom offered in this collection to be incredibly troubling given a 2018 body positivity perspective. The obsession of many authors with a somewhat-disguised-but-still-a-diet diet as the answer to their disordered eating troubles screams improper and incomplete treatment. Additionally, one of the male authors included (Chris ...more
Elizabeth Mcdonough
Nov 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is a collection of short stories about body image in our society. I read one of short stories called The Butt: Its Politics, Its Profanity, Its Power by Erin J. Aubry. The author had an interesting writing style that kept me engaged and entertained while I was reading. Aubry uses similes to describe her butt to the reader. It is important to teach students how to use figurative language to enhance their writings. Aubry also describes her butt as its own entity and uses personification to gi ...more
Dec 09, 2015 rated it liked it
Body Outlaws is an anthology of essays from the late 90s and early 2000s. As such it is now heavily outdated. Although some of the essays still carry some weight - which in itself is a poor reflection on current society, for the most part it is no longer relevant. This is not to say that the experiences that each contributor shares is not relevant or valid - and if anything those experiences show us the progress society has made in understanding of eating disorders, the Fat acceptance movement, ...more
Cindy Dyson Eitelman
Oct 17, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013-15
This is a collection of essays by all sorts of people--thick, thin, brown, pale, female by birth and male by birth. The male end of the spectrum is a little underrepresented, but I'm not sure if that's a problem, since the body image issues are overrepresented in the female end. Women just got more to complain about.

Not that complaints are the purpose of the collection--there are a few complaints here and there, but in general, that's not the point. The point is to tell about your body image pro
Think you're an outcast from society? This book is a series of essays from a vast array of women regarding body image and identity issues. They are transgendered and wheelchaired. They have big butts, big noses, and big mouths. Their skin is too light, too brown, or too pimply. They are inspirational writers, and people.

Nearly every essay had at least a few sentences that I thought were speaking directly to me.

Here's an excerpt from an essay about the author's lifelong hatred for Barbie dolls:
Jun 09, 2009 rated it liked it
Recommended to jill by: Lani
I think I would have liked this collection better if more of the essays were a little more narrative and a bit less philosophical, for lack of a better term. The ones that stood out to me were the ones that described specific anecdotes, especially from childhood, and built their stories from there. Once they got into the "moral" of the essay, they tended to get a little tedious and repetitive. I know part of the point is the way very different body image issues can manifest in similar emotional ...more
Feb 22, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I typically don't like creative non-fiction (funny, because that's the only I write when I bother to write at all), but this volume of essays is wonderful. It has woman of various races and body types all railing against the standards of beauty imposed by media and society in this country. Surprisingly, not all of them are "I am woman, hear me roar." One of my favorite pieces is one in which a woman proposes several new types of Barbies-- including Bisexual Barbie, which would come packaged with ...more
Maggie Gordon
Fantastic intersectional book with many perspectives and ideas about body image. You may not agree with every author, but you will probably find several who seem like they speak to your needs. A definite recommend for those who enjoy feminist work, or are just looking for something to help them along the path of body positivity!
Troubles with body image are not just about white women. It's not just about weight. It's about everything that pulls people down and makes them feel like less than worthy beings. It's about skin color, hair, ethnicity, (dis)ability, fashion, class. And yes, weight. Everyone should read this book just as everyone should love themselves for who they are, not what they're not.
Apr 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I am currently reading this book for my Body Politics class. It's an amazing collection of essays from women and (2) men about how they feel about their bodies. At this point I would highly recommend it, it has helped me a lot to think about my own body image and how far I have to go before I actually feel good about what I have.
Michelle Pawlak
Dec 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
An amazing book filled with many essays on body acceptance. This is a must read for anyone with body or self-esteem issues. I would love if this reading was mandatory for teenagers, it would have changed so much of how I handled myself and my body issues over the years if I had read is at 14 instead of 24.
Sep 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Nice, refreshing stories in there....from the texts, this book implies that one doesn't have to have a body that Hollywood sells year after year to accept one self as a sexual being and a person worthy of love. Kudos to the people in here courageous enough to write about their experiences wrestling with body image issues.
Jul 21, 2008 rated it liked it
A great introduction to feminism and the politics of the body. Some of the essays are standouts while others are mediocre, but the candid tone and the importance of the topics make the entire book worth reading. I would have enjoyed it more with more critical analysis of the topics covered and a little more theory, but that's just not the point of the book.
Jun 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This book is a life-changer. It will challenge your beliefs in regards to the inordinate amount of value society places on physical beauty, and will definitely make you reevaluate how you view yourself.
Nov 14, 2012 rated it liked it
Pretty great collection of essays. Really gets you thinking about your views on your own bodies. Can get tedious after a while, and the essays may be a little too predictable, but still an interesting read.
Feb 12, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this because of its mention in the book, The Earth, My Butt, and Other Round Things. After reading just a few selections, I loved it. I especially loved "Klaus Barbie, and Other Dolls I'd Like to See", by Susan Jane Gilman, author of the above Kiss My Tiara.
May 01, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: essays, 2009, non-fiction
A great anthology, but I particularly enjoyed the essay written by the vegan!
Feb 02, 2011 marked it as to-read
Shelves: self-image-wsa
Mentioned in The Earth, My Butt & Other Big Round Things. Essays by young women who are rebelling against body norms.
Feb 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I'm not that far into it yet, but it is fabulous already.
Carrie Pirmann
essays,women's studies
I read this book in my college womens study class. I love the way the women in the book talk about their bodies, very empowering.
Mar 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
Lots of personal narratives from a diverse group of people that each relate to feminism in some way or another. Great for intro to 3rd wave feminism and inclusive feminism.
Julie Ehlers
Definitely uneven, but still worth reading.
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