Top critical review
A bit too preachy for my liking
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on July 29, 2022
Please don't misunderstand, there is nothing in this book that I disagree with. And for the most part, all the sentiments are well-written, and presented in an engaging way.
So. Why the low rating?
Personally, I was recommended this book by my Registered Dietician, who I'm working with to continue the process of recovering from an ED in my teenage years. She told me that this is kind of the new "bible" for self-love and self-acceptance and reframing the way that women think about their bodies. So, I went in, hoping that it would at least give me the tools to do <i>some</i> of that.
It did not.
Instead, what it gave me, was paragraphs of self-gratuitous expose on the author's own journey, and while that's totally fine, it was also interspersed with Wikipedia-esque lists of facts that, while astonishing if true, don't do much to actually educate you on the subjects they try to "hit home" about.
There's also a distinct lack of acknowledging possible counter-arguments. And maybe this is just left over from my years of being a literature major, but MOST good essays at least attempt to pre-empt the naysayers and provide more evidence to the contrary. They take care to qualify their claims and the sources they cite, so that diligent readers might take the time to do their own research. This book glosses over the issues with the HAES (Health At Every Size) movement, and provides very little context for the huge amount of discourse that's gone on around it since the movement's inception in the 90's.
It also pushes "Intuitive Eating" without addressing the possible issues this approach might have for people who are emotional binge eater/restrictors.
And, towards the end of the book, the author seems to make it plenty clear that the ONLY way to engage in TRUE radical self love was to become an active, vocal proponent of the movement itself. So that by the time I got to the end of the book, I felt like what I'd read was a very long-winded propaganda pamphlet, urging you to GO VOTE or UNCLE SAM WANTS YOU to DONATE TO GOVERNMENT BONDS. But instead here, we're being told to go forth in to the world and loudly, vehemently try to educate those who would dare to disagree with the sentiments put forth in this book.
Perhaps I shouldn't have gone into reading this with certain expectations, but I found myself feeling strangely "lonely" after finishing this book, wondering to myself, "Am I just going to be stuck hating my body forever if I don't go out and do everything this book says? Is there no personal, internal work that I can do to achieve this 'radical self-love' that the author seems to think is THE answer?"
And yes, it sounds ridiculous when you take a step back because healing and recovery is ALWAYS a personal journey. IT ALWAYS has to take place internally. So to insinuate that you have to go do certain things as part of this movement in order to achieve true radical self-love is... questionable, to say the least.
Now, I'm not saying that you can't gleam good, powerful, even transformative information from this book -- you absolutely can. It's just that most of the information provided is not new information. It's not even all that differently contextualized. If you grew up in a society, ANY society, that has the internet, you'll have come into contact with most, if not all, of the sentiments in this book. They're just presented in a slightly more slam-poetic way.
If that's your tea, then amazing!
But if it's not, it's susceptible to coming off as didactic and even downright condescending at times.
All in all, even though it wasn't a bad book, per se, I would say it was a bad "match" for me. I found myself more aggravated than enlightened, and it made me question all the progress that I'd already made in my own recovery journey.