Body Image has been a topic in my household since my earliest memories, and unfortunately, it’s not going anywhere soon. I’m 24 now and still struggling with my own body image, but I’ve come a long way since my childhood.
To get you up to speed, I’ll share the TLDR (Too Long Don’t Read) version of my body image journey.
Since elementary school, I have been classified as what the doctors would call “obese.” A scary word, I know.
I did blood tests when I was a kid to see if I had a dysfunctional thyroid or any other conditions that could cause me to be overweight. During high school, I went on weight watchers and lost 50 pounds. I felt as much joy getting my 50 pounds off Weight Watchers charm, as I did from graduating high school. I quickly gained my 50 pounds back and exceeded my heaviest weight. Growing up, I loved going to Canada’s Wonderland and other amusement parks, but they would always end up with me feeling deeply ashamed because the amusement park attendees would have to slam the bar down to get me secured into the ride… thick thigh problems, I guess.
I could go on, and on, but I’d rather spare you the nitty-gritty details, and if you’re reading this I’m sure you or those around you have similar stories of your own.
I want to tell you about an experience from my past that widened my perspective on body image. And no, I’m not a professional by any means, just a person who has gone through her own ups and downs with body image.
When I was in High School, an acquaintance confided in me that she wanted tips to get fat like me.
Okay, you might be thinking, what!? That’s so rude of her. Well, admittedly, that’s exactly what ran through my mind, like “How dare you call me fat,” it bubbled up all my insecurities about my body. Instead of reacting, I asked, “Why do you want to get fat?”
This triggered a spiel of personal anecdotes about her not being able to put on weight regardless of what she eats and feeling shame because people make fun of how skinny she is at school.
This experience happened at least 9 years ago, and I will never forget it. Because it assured me that everyone has their own insecurities and demons they are wrestling with, body image-related or not. But, it also assured me that we’re all striving for this “perfect body” which feels so unattainable. At that moment, she wanted to be bigger like me, and I wanted to be smaller like her.
It’s true that often we focus on what we don’t have, instead of appreciating what we do have.
Someone wanted to look like me, and I wanted to look like them, so why couldn’t we both just appreciate our bodies for what they were? Well, toss in a society that’s built to make you question your appearance, and that will do the trick…
It’s hard to love your body, it takes consistent efforts to not only nourish yourself, and be grateful for yourself but to look in the mirror, and believe that you’re a damn fine snack, that’s hard.
So, when I had the chance to write a children’s book, I knew 100% that it was going to be on the topic of, you guessed it, body image.
Myself, and my two friends, Jess and Sydney created a personalized digital storybook called “Humans Can’t Fly, But They Can…” through our ed-tech startup, called BinoBooks. This storybook follows the main character, who is customized to look like your child, as they attend a zoo trip and explore the cool things bodies are capable of through the zoo animals, focusing instead on body abilities and actions, over appearances and aesthetics.
We designed the storybook so that it’s not obvious when you first pick it up that it’s on the topic of body image, but if a parent wants to dig deeper into the topic of body image with their child we have a list of discussions questions to go further.
It’s kind of like building a BitEmoji or Mii character, you come to our website, choose your digital storybook of choice, and then from there, you can personalize the main character’s name, pronouns, eye color, hair color, hair type, and skin color.
We’re still new to the storybook game, so there is a lot of room where we can still improve. Our second storybook is set to be released in Fall 2022 on the topic of consent, and we heard the feedback from our parent community, and have implemented more skin tones, black hairstyles, and even added an accessibility device. We want to ensure all children feel seen in their readings so we are going to continue to listen to and implement feedback from parents to do just that.
I love that we’re able to make more children feel seen in their storybooks, and help parents start tough conversations with their kids on topics like body image, say if you’re like me and were bullied in school for being bigger.
As thanks from us to you for supporting a small Canadian-owned female-founded company, we’d like to give you 10% off your first purchase.
About the Author
Hello 👋 my name is Danielle, as you know from my above ramblings I’ve struggled with my body image since the beginning of time, and I’d gather a guess that you might be in a similar boat if you’re reading this, or know someone who is. All I have to say is I love you, and I hope this article helped make you feel heard, or seen at least 1% more than before you read this.
Back in 2021, our team, at BinoBooks, was figuring out what book topic we wanted our first children’s book to be written on. Knowing how I faced a lot of body shame growing up, I had a mission to make our first book centered around body image and celebrating all bodies. So, we did it, we created our first personalized storybook, “Humans Can’t Fly, But They Can!” Knowing there is a possibility I can make a young version of myself feel a bit more accepted and celebrated for her beautiful and strong body brings the biggest smile to my face.
So from our team to you, we wish you the best on your own body image journey, and be sure to tag us @hellobinobooks on Instagram, or comment below, to let us know your story.
It’s human nature to avoid difficult conversations like death, divorce, bullying, and racism. BinoBooks’ personalized e-storybooks alleviate parental stress by helping parents start tough and complex conversations with their children through storytelling.
We initially started our venture in the Queen’s Innovation Centre program in 2020, which you can find here, with a prototype book on covid. As of January 4th, 2022, we successfully completed a crowdfunding campaign for our first official book “Humans Can’t Fly, But They Can” on Kickstarter, which you can find here, and is on the topic of body image.
We’ve now launched our first customizable storybook, ”Humans Can’t Fly, But They Can” on our website, you can check it out here.