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Westminster community book club dives into ideas of “acceptable” bodies in “The Body is Not an Apology: The Power of Radical Self Love”

“Living in a female body, a Black body, an aging body, a fat body, a body with mental illness, is to awaken daily to a planet that expects a certain set of apologies to already live on our tongues,” according to Sonya Renee Taylor in her book, “The Body is Not an Apology: The Power of Radical Self Love.”

The Westminster College Disability Justice program and Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion will host a book club to discuss “The Body is Not an Apology: The Power of Radical Self Love” on Thursday at 6 p.m. in the Bassis Student Center. 

The book explores how to love oneself fully and unapologetically “in a society that is constantly reminding you why you shouldn’t,” according to Taylor. 

Quinn Winter, a co-coordinator of Disability Justice and senior communication major, said in a digital interview they hope participants of the book club question themselves and their ideas of “acceptable” bodies after attending the event or reading the book.

“I hope people sit with the parts of the book or discussion that make them uncomfortable so they can process and unpack all the things they’ve been taught that hurt them or others,” Winter said. 

Dan Fenn, a junior public health major and Disability Justice co-coordinator, said in a digital interview he also hopes readers and book club participants find love for their bodies in a world that shames and policies bodies. 

“Like Renee Taylor outlines in the book, changing the way that we judge, think and speak about our bodies is a first step in changing the way that we judge, think and speak about other people’s bodies,” Fenn said. 

“Living in a female body, a Black body, an aging body, a fat body, a body with mental illness, is to awaken daily to a planet that expects a certain set of apologies to already live on our tongues.”

Sonya Renee Taylor in her book, “The Body is Not an Apology: The Power of Radical Self Love”

Eileen Chanza Torres, gender studies chair, said one of the perspectives that stood out to her in the book was the idea that no one will ever be thin enough. 

“[Body shame] is perfect for capitalism, because it just creates a space for us to constantly try and meet [an expectation of thinness],” Chanza Torres said. 

Kara Barnett, associate philosophy professor, said it’s difficult discussing body norms and fatphobia without seeing the ways those biases are tied to other structures of power, such as racism, sexism and classism. 

“It’s really heartbreaking to me that as a society we are moving towards a thinner ideal and one reason for this focus on thinness is trying to make women disappear,” Barnett said. 

A mindset of thinness correlates to making women take up less space and have less places in the world, according to Barnett.

Dan Fenn, a junior public health major and Disability Justice co-coordinator, said Taylor’s work as a poet shines through in “The Body is Not an Apology: The Power of Radical Self Love,” and creates a heavy subject more approachable. 

“Oftentimes, when I read about body shame and similar topics, I feel like disability, trans-ness, general queerness or all three are left out of the conversation,” Fenn said. “Renee Taylor approaches all these topics and more with tact, grace and love.”

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Rylee Brown(she/hers) is a senior Communication major with a minor in Spanish. She is a reporter and the Business and Advertising Manger for the Forum. In her free time she also works as a social media manager for local business, loves to spend time with her siblings, playing board games with her fiancee, and traveling whenever she can.

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