Cover Image: Queer Body Power

Queer Body Power

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Absolutely LOVE the way this book deals with social justice issues. I love that it reads as a lived experience by the author and she admits her biases but empowers all people.
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This is a great nonfiction that focuses on the intersection of body image and queerness. I think that this is something that a ton of people can relate to and understand in regards to how our own body image and view of ourself is intricately connected to our queerness, especially when your body image doesn't fit the way that you view queerness or the way that society views queerness.

While fat phobia is not present every single conversation in this book, it is an overlying theme and one of the major connections. There's a lot of discussions about living in a fat body as a queer person and what your life and experiences can be like. However it is not something that is on every chapter and it is not a qualifier for you to relate to this book.

A few of the chapters just to give you an example include talking about eating disorders, gender expression and body image, healthcare, social media etc.

I was going through the reviews for this and I got a little bit frustrated because I saw one person bash this book because they are fatter than the author and thought that the author was too whiny. I feel like the whole purpose of this book is to bring people together and not create these imaginary sections of what qualifies as fat and what doesn't. The author is fat and talks about being fat and that's that. As someone who wears an even larger size than that reviewer was commenting, I did not feel alienated from this book at all. My one critique is that I do wish the author would have commented about pretty privilege even within fat spaces. What I mean by that is that there are socially attractive levels of fat where your fat is dispersed in either generous curves versus a large belly, where you don't have any sort of double chin, where if people saw a photo they would say that person is conventionally attractive. 

There's a disconnect between fat people with pretty privilege and fat people without. The author obviously drove from their own experiences when they talked about being sexualized and cat called and all of these examples where other people found their body desirable, and that isn't something that all fat people say. There is an entirely separate discussion to be had about body image and fatness and queerness when you have never been told that you were desirable or when you have never been sexualized. It sounds ridiculous to want to be cat called or want to be objectified and that's not necessarily what it is, but it is a conversation that wasn't even broached in this book. Please do not take this comment to me and that sexualizing or objectifying or sexually harassing anyone is okay, it absolutely is not. That's not what this is about.

Okay back to the regularly scheduled review, this book brings up a lot of conversations but it doesn't delve deep into very many. It makes you think but then kind of leaves you hanging. I almost wish the author had narrowed the scope down a little bit and spent more time doing a deeper dive because while I did take some time to contemplate these things and it made me think about my own experience with the intersection of my asexuality and fatness, it didn't really go beyond that. It brought up the concepts but didn't do anything about it.

I don't know as a whole this is kind of like a middle of the road nonfiction for me, I don't think that it is problematic or negative in any way and I would not discourage people from reading it, but I do think that there are better nonfiction books about queerness and fatness, specifically fat and queer which is an anthology, I think that this is one that I would recommend to specific people versus recommending it universally. It's a valuable book but it's only going to be valuable if you fit certain criteria etc.
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Thanks to #netgalley and the publishers for letting me see this book.  It is an inspirational look at the queer body in all its shapes, sizes and colours. I highly recommend this book.
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I don’t know why I didn’t realize this is a self-help book, which is not one of my favorite genres, but it was a lot better than the ones I’m familiar with! The book mainly focuses on body image and body positivity/neutrality. Still, unlike most conversations around this, Dennis addresses realities around queerness, disability, racism, etc. that make body positivity harder for people who are not only battling internal thoughts but external oppressions around their bodies. This was a really validating read even as someone who doesn’t fit into most of those identities. While it occasionally read like more of a personal history (Dennis does include excerpts from many other queer people), it’s still helpful to read for anyone finding their way in the world with their body and online. Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC!
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This was an excellent primer for the intersections of body positivity and queer identities. It's an approachable, non-academic read that I think a lot of LGBTQIA+ people navigating body image for the first time could benefit from reading. I think the target audience for this book would be people coming to these conversations and looking for a place to start, because as someone who has spent several years researching and reading about this topic, there was not much new information for me. However, I greatly enjoyed reading about the personal experiences of various queer people in interview portions throughout the book. I also enjoyed how consciously intersectional the book was and how how it does not just focus on one aspect of identity, but rather discussed queerness, anti-Blackness, racism, anti-fat bias, and more. For queer people wondering if they are alone in their experiences, I think books like this are invaluable in showing how widespread these problems are and providing guidance for how, on the individual level, people can work towards self-acceptance and community liberation.
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In this novel Essie does a really good job at discussing topics that aren’t usually touched upon and those are how your gender and sexuality as well as disability can impact on things such as your self-esteem and body confidence. They do this by discussing eating disorders, fat phobia, fashion and social media. She focuses on the view point of those who aren’t cos, straight and able bodied which is something that you don’t see often. She does through discussing her own experiences but also those of many others in the community and I feel that this is a book all queer people and especially the younger generation can really benefit from.

I gave this 4 out of 5 stars.
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This is one of those books I didn't know I needed until I read it. There is not enough talk about bodies in relation to the queer experience. There are so many additional layers when you add in queer identities and I loved having that represented. The queer community is going to find themselves in this book as I have.
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As a gay, plus size woman, I found this a useful read, with plenty of reflection, and research. I definitely recommend it for those who want to be more body positive! Thanks to NetGalley for a copy of this book.
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TW: Ableism, Eating disorders, Fatphobia, Racism, Transphobia, (mentioned in the intro of the book)

Short Review: A fantastic, powerful book that discusses the intersection of gender, LGBTQIA+ sexuality, ability, and body size. 

My Thoughts: I read this book a while ago, and here are some thoughts I wrote down as I was reading. 

Accepting one's sexuality can lead to accepting one's body. 

Fatphobia affects the LGBTQIA+ community in different ways. 

There are certain body stereotypes within the LGBTQIA+ community that I was not aware of. 

I appreciated the interviews with other Queer experiences. It added so much nuance to this topic and the book. 

YOU ARE ENOUGH. 

I am not a part of the LGBTQIA+ community so I learned a lot from this book.

Thank you Jessica Kinglsey Publishers for this Negalley ARC!
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So grateful that this book exists! I hope we see more books by this author in the future. I’ll be recommending this to everyone I know.
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Queer Body Power takes a look at the intersections of society where people are often left out of the body positivity movement, or who are actively hurt by it. Discussions of gender, sexuality, (dis)ability and body size are at the forefront of Dennis' book and by centring these body types she gives hope to those who otherwise fall through the cracks.

The book is formed of memoir, interviews and falls into the self-help category of non-fiction, which I am usually wont to avoid (being one of the aforementioned queer disabled fatties) but Essie Dennis' unapologeticly loud voice is a much better salve for the soul than your average patronising diet book or self-helper. She has experience with what she's talking about and isn't about to sell you some magic formula to 'fix' you into society's narrow ideals of beauty.

Powerful and beautiful.
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3.5 stars 

Queer Body Power is a non-fiction on the Body Positivity movement, from an intersectional, queer perspective, and with a memoir-like feel to it. While part of the book focuses on body issues, I think it's main subject is how being queer affects how you feel and live in your body and its interaction with the outside world/society. So I would recommend this to queer people at large, to find a echo of what they may already feel, but not to someone who is, say, struggling with body dysmorphia. 

<i>"Queerness is so much more than a label that is supposedly required for dating. It is community, history, how you carry yourself in the world, fluidity, performance, identity, character, heart. Queerness is many things and all of those things at once."</i>

The inclusion of interview excerpts is something that I have seen tried often, and seldom well-executed. Thankfully, it works really well here, adding while still keeping in the flow of the book.
I found the content itself, while not revolutionary, well-structured and I think this would be great for someone who needs a starting place or who feels they need a way to better get acquainted with the circle - it is sometimes hard to get all of these pieces of information if you're left to navigate the internet by yourself, and are not sure were to turn. I think it is also a good book to read generally as a queer person to see something you have experienced reflected and ponder about somethings you haven't considered before. I certainly found some pieces of information which lead me to reflect a bit on my experiences. Of course, non-queer people could also gain from further understanding what the experience in a queer body could be like. 
 
<i>"Queer joy is why we are here. [...] We shouldn't have to spend our whole existence being told how hard it is to be queer; we deserve to embrace the wonderful things about it."</i>

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC. The opinions are my own and voluntarily given.
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This book’s refreshing aim is to look at all aspects of the body through a queer, body-positive lens. The format is a mix of personal memoir, research, calls to action, and takes from a handful of other queer folks interviewed to provide a more diverse range of experiences beyond the author’s. Author Essie Dennis brings the specific perspective of a white, nonbinary, bisexual, disabled, and fat body-positive advocate on the asexual spectrum. While as a non-binary person I generally hesitate to overemphasize “assigned sex,” it’s worth noting that Dennis’s experiences as someone raised as and often presumed to be female also factor heavily, as does their working class British background. Readers who share some or all of these identities / experiences may find the book particularly resonant, but I think most queer folks would find at least something relate to. 

Reading this book upon release in 2022, I’m struck by a bit of sadness and nostalgia for the “old days” of the early 2000s internet. Dennis speaks at length about how their recovery from disordered eating as they were simultaneously coming into queer identity and broadening their perspective on what queer can look like was shaped by body-positive queer online spaces. Body positivity here isn’t just an individual mindset, but rather a community experience with activism at its center—“the radical act of liberating bodies that have been marginalized by society.” Dennis considers some of the central tenets of this movement form an intersectional lens. 

For example, one major focus is how disordered eating is so incredibly culturally pervasive and normalized that we don’t even see it as a problem—especially if we’re not a skinny, white, straight girl with anorexia. This really landed with my own experience, and the way my mom measured “unhealthy” restriction not with reference to health but by making sure I stayed above the “too skinny” bar (a bar that itself was defined by her own experiences with weight in a very different body shape!) At the same time, I can easily see how my own healing was supported by having positive role models—which, as Dennis points out, is easier if you’re white and somewhere on queer femme spectrum.  

While Dennis treats the mainstream body positive movement with a critical lens, pointing out how it marginalizes queer and non-white fat bodies, their story also reads like a love letter to the spaces that did allow them to see and celebrate representations of queer beauty that go beyond skinny, gender-conforming examples. I immediately recognized the online landscape they describe, a world of fat queers hyping each other up with pictures and blog posts that defied mainstream beauty standards (even as these spaces also suffered from racism and ableism). Personally, I find myself missing that bygone world—for while people being mean on the Internet is not a new phenomenon, current cancel culture and the nature of social media algorithms seem to be pulling queers away from these affirming spaces, or censoring our access to our communities altogether.  

I might recommend this book most to non-queer folks, younger queers, or queers who are unfamiliar with fat positivity / body positivity, as a lot of the content provides important education. Using the umbrella of the queer body, a whole array of topics are addressed with an eye to intersections—everything from queer fear of health care stigma to acceptable body hair types to the challenges of eating disorder recovery when you’re also broke or poor. Fat bodies and disordered eating get the biggest spotlight, but aren’t the only focus. Our relationships to our bodies are treated in the context of systemic oppression and capitalism, exploring familiar-to-queers themes of control, protection, identity, and shame. I might’ve liked a little more time spent on intra-community dynamics and queer attraction economies, but some of this does come up, and Dennis does an excellent job of explaining some of the nuances of how queer people experience harmful beauty standards that may result in some lightbulb moments for queer readers. 

Beauty standards come up across chapters with particular attention to how desire, gender, and understanding of self shape our relationships to these standards. Readers raised as girls, I think, will particularly relate to Dennis’s stories of growing up grappling with the expectation to be sexually desirable (a standard that others ace-spectrum folks) to men (presumed heterosexuality), according to norms of femininity (which ignores gender identities and expressions). I personally related strongly to mentions of how non-binary folks are expected to present androgynously, and was taken back to the discomfort in the pit of my stomach when I first got brave enough to wear a flowing skirt to work after years of suits and ties. My joy in wearing what I actually wanted to wear after years of trying to present a queer identity that would be legible to cis folks was rudely squashed by coworkers remarking with surprise “you look so pretty!” These sorts of experiences, where cishet expectations or intentions complicate queer efforts to be seen, come up again and again in the book. 

The one thing I would’ve liked to see that wasn’t really included is a discussion of queer sex and experiences with genitals. While this topic might be a little taboo to many, it’s a rich ground for discussion—I’m thinking here of spaces that exclude trans women based on genital configuration, of the way pelvic pain and infertility issues are often discussed in incredibly essentialist language (”find your way back to womanhood!”), of how racialized sexual stereotypes show up in a queer sexual context. While it comes up tangentially around the topic of health care, there’s a lot more to explore.
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Queer and plus-size, Essie Dennis has spent most of their life feeling ‘not good enough’ and when they voiced it online, it became apparent that many other people feel the same. Using everything they’ve learned over the years, Queer Body Power challenges beauty standards through thoughts on gender, sexuality, food, social media, politics and more. Inspirational and full of insights from LGBTQ+ people, Queer Body Power is a celebration of queerness and body positivity. Brimming with honesty and authenticity, I learned a lot from some parts and saw myself reflected in others. Give it a read for an educational, thought-provoking read.
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Initially, I did have some skepticism about what I would find in the pages of Essie Dennis’ Queer Body Power: Finding Your Body Positivity. Body positivity has been a rather fraught, contentious concept for me (and countless others, I imagine) over the years; the messages of the predominantly cis, white, heterosexual, and able-bodied lens of body positivity I was exposed to through social media and other self-help books not only failed to resonate with me, they felt entirely alien and only succeeded in cultivating more quiet shame. It was only through the work of Sonya Renee Taylor’s The Body Is Not an Apology that I began to think that radical self-love and body positivity had a place for me.

All this to say: Despite my initial skepticism, I really enjoyed Queer Body Power. It’s a powerful, important addition to the body positivity movement, particularly because of its emphasis on intersectionality and acknowledgment of the varied experiences different queer folks will have with their bodies. Topics such as 

Rather than providing an objective guide/steps to finding body positivity (which, as noted above, can only go so far given the vast tapestry of experiences under the queer umbrella) or concrete, actionable steps, the Queer Body Power approaches its subjects with a distinctly memoir-esque tone. It draws heavily not only from the lived experiences of author Essie Dennis, but from several other queer people who were interviewed on various topics throughout.

Along with the relatable ease with which Daniels talks about their own experiences, the interviews were my favourite part of this book. They helped to demonstrate one key principle I think a lot of queer folks need to hear in regards to their body and body shame: no matter what issues you struggle with in a world that often feels stacked against your identity and experiences, you are not alone.

For anyone looking for a modestly sized but reflective and thought-provoking read on body positivity with an emphasis on queer experiences, I would recommend Queer Body Power without hesitation.

Thank you to Jessica Kingsley and NetGalley for an advance review copy. All opinions are my own.
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I could relate to much of this book, especially in the author's sharing of the many times they were told or made to feel not 'something' enough. The way that people are viewed in relation to their bodies is thoroughly explored in a way that helps you identify how bonkers and worse, harmful that is. Whether that is judging someone for their gender presentation especially where that may not fit with what is seen as 'normal', whatever that is. But also crucially where that is judging someone for the size of their bodies, the author presents a convincing way of refuting these arguments and feeling good about your body, as the way to achieve optimal health. I found this book uplifting in a way that many books on this subject aren't, the queer positivity shines through, which is lovely to access and celebrate for oneself. 

With thanks to netgalley and the publisher for an Arc in exchange for an honest review
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I received an advanced reader copy of Queer Body Power by Essie Dennis in exchange for an honest review.

I don’t read self-help books very often, but Queer Body Power is very much my kind of self-help. It is all about the intersections of queer identities and fatphobia, and the unique experiences found at this intersection. This book contains so many important lessons, including:

* Identity is not intrinsically linked to your partner. This is important to understand for bisexual individuals, whose identity is often erased depending on who they are dating. Conversely, this applies to situations like a lesbian dating a trans man. Just because she’s dating a man doesn’t mean she is no longer a lesbian; that is her identity.

* The difference between disordered eating and eating disorders, as well as explaining what normal eating behaviors look like. Food isn’t moral, it isn’t good or bad. Food is neutral.

* Social media discriminates against queer content creators, especially when they’re plus size. I myself have had so much of my content removed from various platforms just because I am a fat person comfortable showing a little skin. Meanwhile a thin person can show their entire naked ass on an instagram post and it doesn’t get flagged. 

* Most big name clothing brands and designers discriminate against plus size shoppers, rarely carrying anything larger than a size 12, and then the selections available for bigger bodies are basic and boring. Support small business fashion, because oftentimes they are much more inclusive with their designs, and willing to go the extra mile to make sure things fit correctly. I have been blessed to model for many of Chicago’s queer designers, such as Sky Cubacub at Rebirth Garments and An Authentic Skidmark. These designers prioritize fashion for people who are queer, fat, trans, and/or disabled. When you can, buy from small businesses like these so you can wear clothes that make you feel confident, comfortable, and even sexy!

* Queer people often use tattoos to express their identities. This is very much true in my case. I have my stretchmarks on my stomach and up my back tattooed many bright colors. I see this to be not only a celebration of my fatness, but my queerness as well.

* I think one of the most important lessons in this book is to fake it till you make it. Dennis reveals that even while writing this book she continues to struggle against her internal monologue, against the fatphobic voices which have been planted into every one of our heads. Despite this, she persevered and wrote this book full of kind and encouraging messages. I remember having a similar struggle. For years I hated my body. A few years ago I decided to start showing off my body more in my outfits when I perform. While it was a real struggle at first, the more I did it the more confident I became. Now I love my body. It can be really hard to internalize these positive attitudes, but if you begin by simply doing an outward display of them, it will become so much easier to accept and embrace them. 

This book is delightfully queer. I felt so much joy when Dennis quoted one of Chicago’s most talented drag queens, Shea Couleé. One of this books greatest strengths is that Dennis not only provides her own personal experience, but she interviewed many, varied queer voices so that the reader could have a more diverse understanding of each subject. It shows that so many people have gone through similar things as you. You are not alone.

Queer Body Power is an important book. It is full of vital messages that queer and plus size youth need to hear. Because so much of the pain, so much of the trauma that we as fat queer people experience could have been minimized had we had access to a book like this, something telling us that who we are and how we look is okay. Thank you, Essie Dennis, for providing these kind words for future generations. Thank you NetGalley and Jessica Kingsley Publishers for the advance reader copy.
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We need more books like queer body power in our world. In this book Essie Dennis tackles the not often discussed intersections of gender, sexuality, size, and ability status. With splashes of memoir and interviews with many queer people topics from eating disorders to fashion to fatphobia and more are tackled. I felt like this book could read my mind. There is a definite need for books like this in a world of “don’t say gay” bills and book banning. In it, Dennis is unapologetic and loud in the best possible way.
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Queer Body Power is such an insightful book. I think a lot of young people will benefit from this book being out in the world.

This is a look into how we as people view bodies that have been classified as "other". There are anecdotes from many queer people, disabled people, and fat people. The ideas presented on accepting your body for what it is, for practicing body positivity (in a non toxic way) and self love are still radical. This book provides a step by step on Dennis' journey through that minefield, as well as many other's, and is an amazing resource for people just starting on their journey's.

This book came at the perfect time, as queer kids across America are feeling oppressed by bills about what is and is not 'appropriate' to discuss in schools. I think we all need the reminder that just because bodies exist outside the societal standard does not make them inappropriate, undesirable, or bad.
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This was an awesome book!! I loved the positive messages and will be thinking about them for years to come.

Thank you to Netgalley for this eARC in exchange for an honest review!
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