I knew one of my goals as a writer was to put together a body book. I’d been asked for it numerous times, and certainly is something I care deeply about. But it couldn’t be any body book. It couldn’t be a book about body positivity or about learning to love yourself no matter what. It couldn’t be a puberty book. It couldn’t aim to be an owner’s manual or tool for diagnosing any number of ailments.
Instead, I wanted to create a book that would explore the body in ways I’d never seen done before: I wanted to cover as much about the human experience with a body as possible on the physical front, as well as on the political, social, and cultural fronts.
The book had to be real about bodies, without once being embarrassed, ashamed, or worried about going too far or being too raw.
I could not have ever predicted that my next anthology, Body Talk: 37 Voices Explore Our Radical Anatomy, would become even more relevant, timely, and crucial amidst a global pandemic.
This is not a book about what happens to our bodies when we’re sick nor about how viruses multiple, travel, wreak havoc on everything we thought we knew about our lives.
But it is a book about something that we’re all struggling with but aren’t necessarily able to articulate: what it’s like to exist in our own bodies when it is the one and only thing that we know is truly ours.
Many of us are somewhere we can’t leave right now. Whether that place is safe or not is about our bodies. The simple act of staying home, of washing our hands, choosing whether or not to cover our mouths, cloaking ourselves in soft, stretchy, comforting clothes: these are all about our bodies.
Our worries include loved ones who may be immunocompromised or ill and fears about ourselves falling ill. We’re engaging in discussions of what happens when we run out of room in ICUs and emergency health spaces, about the choices of who does and does not have access to the few ventilators available at each hospital. What people get to live or die, who is more vital and worth the efforts to save.
These anxieties, tensions, terrifying scenarios are about our bodies.
Panic responses to the current epidemic have left those needing distilled water for medical equipment lacking vital resources, those whose families depend upon once-a-month WIC deposits to purchase pre-approved and allocated items at the grocery store, sharing of videos explaining just how much washing of our groceries is or is not enough. We’ve seen toilet paper, eggs, milk, and hand sanitizer become gold, as they sell out in stores not putting limits on purchases.
Human bodies are on the line.
The choices we make in situations like this one are about bringing as much comfort and safety to our bodies as we can. But these choices are limited by so much in the world around us, by those who have bodies with more abilities, a more privileged skin color, an identity that matches with what was assigned at birth.
So much of what gives us worry right here and now in this moment, as well as in moments where we’re able to be active and engaged in the social and physical world around us, comes down to feeling safe, secure, and at home in our bodies. Without external stimulation, we’re forced to be with our bodies in ways that we don’t need to be in many other circumstances.
We’re experiencing and witnessing the unfiltered dynamism of the fragility and the power of our human bodies.
Body Talk is about the ways each of us has a unique shape, size, and map of physical characteristics defined as a body. This is a book about our anatomy, but it’s more than that—it’s a book about how radical, powerful, and necessarily diverse our bodies are and how it’s those very things which allow us to move, operate, and inform our world.
This book is one I am tremendously excited for. I like to call the puberty book unlike any puberty book you’ve ever read, and whether or not you’re experiencing puberty, you know what it was like, as well as what it’s like to live in this weird and cool thing called the human body.
I’m excited today to share the beautiful and perfectly representative cover, as well as the description. Body Talk: 37 Voices Explore Our Radical Anatomy hits shelves on August 18, 2020.
The cover was designed by Laura Williams, and the cover art was created by Kelly Bastow.
Here’s the description:
It’s time to bare it all about bodies!
We all experience the world in a body, but we don’t usually take the time to explore what it really means to have and live within one. Just as every person has a unique personality, every person has a unique body, and every body tells its own story.
In Body Talk, thirty-seven writers, models, actors, musicians, and artists share essays, lists, comics, and illustrations—about everything from size and shape to scoliosis, from eating disorders to cancer, from sexuality and gender identity to the use of makeup as armor. Together, they contribute a broad variety of perspectives on what it’s like to live in their particular bodies—and how their bodies have helped to inform who they are and how they move through the world.
Come on in, turn the pages, and join the celebration of our diverse, miraculous, beautiful bodies!
I adore everything about this cover. It perfectly captures the feel and depth of the book, representing so many ways a body can be. I talked earlier this year about seeing more YA books featuring disabled teens on covers, and I’m utterly grateful mine gets to join that list—these illustrated people mirror the real people sharing their stories inside the book.
The contributor list is mind-boggling, from celebrities like Tyra Banks and Aly Raisman, to incredible YA authors like Julie Murphy and Roshani Chokshi, to disability advocates like Alice Wong and Shane Burcaw, to writers and authors who have incredible experiences to share about topics like birthmarks, irritable bowel syndrome, body hair, endometriosis, testicular cancer, dwarfism, and so, so much more.
Body Talk will release August 18, 2020, and you can preorder your copy today. I cannot wait to talk more about this book, as well as about the human body as we see it in fiction and nonfiction.