Review: Am I Ugly? by Michelle Elman

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As some of my recent posts have indicated, I have a bit of a body positivity journey under way. So, when I noticed that Net Galley had Michelle Elman’s book available, I had to request it right away, and thank goodness the request was accepted.

It’s easy to think about body positivity as entirely about weight and fatness, but of course that’s not true. It’s about any characteristic that your body might have, and Michelle’s book is an excellent reminder of that as the central characteristic being discussed is scars as a result of multiple operations across her life.

Her story is amazing, and thought-provoking, and honestly, one I’m not sure I could have come out of so positively, and I’m enormously impressed by her for having done so.

Of course, it also gave plenty to think about. How our early experiences in life can impact us later on. How hard it can be to share the most vulnerable part of our histories with new people – and how amazing when they are simply accepted. The people you meet in life who manage to completely change your outlook.

And how has this book impacted my own body positivity thinking? It’s given some wonderful insight into body positivity beyond weight/fatness. It’s one thing to intellectually understand that body positivity isn’t just about being fat in a thin obsessed world, but it’s another to actually read about what that looks like for someone else, which is important, and wonderful. Because really, body positivity is about being “real” (read, whatever you are) in a world obsessed with a perfection that does not actually exist, whether we’re talking body shape, colour, texture, ability etc etc etc.

It also gave me a bit of a boost to continue with my anti-diet stance at a time when I have some health things going on that every statistic available says would be improved if I weighed less. And I’m prepared to believe it, but I’m holding tight to the notion that effectively starving myself is not going to improve any health indicator beyond my weight – and that only temporarily. If I happen to lose weight by listening to my body, then awesome, if not, then I need to trust my body that this is where it needs to be right now. Which is hard. But I’m determined.

Michelle’s book really reminded me too how important it is to trust friends and family. Sometimes they can’t or won’t give us the exact support we need, but sometimes they will surprise us, and when dealing with your relationship with your body, remembering that people love us, even if we can’t always love ourselves, is a big deal.

I have a suspicion that this is a book I’ll come back to, that will bubble around in my brain and continue to make me think and reflect. Which I love! In the meantime, I highly, highly recommend this book. It comes out on the 12th of July 2018. WHSmith have signed copies. This book is one I’ll need a physical copy of, and so I’ll be getting one for myself!

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