About Betty's Boob
After breast cancer takes her left breast, Elisabeth finds herself without a job and partner. As she struggles to come to terms with her changed body, she meets a cabaret group that sets her on a journey to self-acceptance.
About Betty’s Boob touches on some tough topics, yet its vibrant art and playful, often humorous, storytelling, ultimately give the story a hopeful, joyous tone. It is perfect for readers who want stories that explore body acceptance and will be especially relevant to those who want to explore body acceptance in the wake of illness.
Betty’s Boob has some nudity (much of it contextually appropriate), scenes leading up to intercourse, and some dream sequences that might unnerve some readers.
Canadian, French |
Be Gay Do Comics!
Matt Bors (Ed.)
In this comics anthology from The Nib (RIP), many of the authors grapple with complicated feelings about their bodies that are wrapped up in their queer identities. For comics dealing with big feelings about bodies, check out "Gender Isn't a Binary and Neither is Anatomy"; "Off the Rack"; "Boobs Aren't Binary"; "I Am More Than My Chromosomes"; and "It's All for the Breast".
Anyone looking for thoughtful and deeply personal pieces about the good, the bad, and the so bad you just have to laugh of the queer experience will find something in this anthology.
Discussions of Homophobia and Transphobia. Discussions of Gender Dysphoria.
Asexual, Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian, Pansexual, Queer |
Gender Nonconforming, Genderqueer, Intersex, Nonbinary, Trans |
Asexual, Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian, Pansexual, Queer |
Gender Nonconforming, Genderqueer, Intersex, Nonbinary, Trans |
Hudi's got a lot going on, with doctors telling him to lose weight and parents pushing him to try sports he has no interest in, on top of other health problems and his parents' money issues, oh and also being the only kid in his small town who's Jewish and Mexican. He discovers an imaginary friend who cheers him on through the various attempts, but each sport makes him feel more and more discouraged about his body. But he finally discovers what works for him and his parents learn to trust his instincts on what makes him happy and whole.
Chunky is less specifically about eating disorders and more about being comfortable and healthy in your body, but I feel that this is a great introduction to talking about disordered eating and body dysmorphia with children, among other things. As such, this comic is something for families to read together and discuss, or for children who feel left out by society for who they are.
Eat, and Love Yourself
Mindy has tried just about any diet or promise a magazine has given her for weight loss, and it always crashes and fails. One lonely night, she finds an odd chocolate bar in the convenience store called "Eat and Love Yourself". Each time she eats a piece, she remembers a moment in her past and with it, slowly heals her relationship with her body and with accepting love from others.
This comic isn't as in-depth or as emotionally difficult as some of the others in this list, so this might be a good starting point for someone wanting to try reading about eating disorders but isn't quite ready for the heavy hitters. It's unusual too in that it has a more magical solution for the very real issues of eating disorders, but the message of learning to love yourself and reflecting on your past to help heal is great.
Discussions of eating disorders, depictions of depression
Embrace Your Size: My Own Body Positivity
In this collection, artist Hara describes her own journey toward body acceptance as a plus-sized person. Over the course of the book, she details her own struggles with her weight and society's pressures, the effects her poor body image had on her mental health and art, her sources of inspiration, and recommendations for positive plus-sized representation. With its mix of topics and approachable style, Embrace Your Size feels like you're in a conversation with a friend. Hara's adorable illustrations are an added bonus!
Although Hara addresses difficult topics like disordered eating and bullying, the warm tone and the fact that she focuses on reflections about her journey make Embrace Your Size an overall hopeful read. I would give this to readers who are interested in exploring body acceptance and body positivity but are looking for a gentler read.
Portrayal of bullying, struggles with shopping and clothes as a plus-sized person, and mental health struggles; discussion of disordered eating behaviors
Galaxy The Prettiest Star
On the outside, it would seem that Taylor Barzelay had it all. Brains, good looks, and a basketball star, he's what most awkward adolescents dream of being. But on the inside, he's an alien princess hiding as a boy on Earth to escape an intergalactic war that killed the king and queen and ravaged their home world of Cyandii. When Taylor meets the cute and fun Kat, she starts to realize that sacrificing her identity for safety may have been too high of a price to pay. This graphic novel explores the pain of wearing your body as a mask and the joy of being your full and authentic self.
Anyone waiting for a transfemme superhero, she's here and interstellar.
xenophobia and transphobia
Kate is completely in love with horses and riding, even though some of the barn girls are mean because she keeps falling off! If her barn woes aren’t enough, she is also struggling with being chubby and dealing with bullies and boys. Kate’s riding instructor starts preparing her for a prestigious horse show. Can Kate rise to the occasion?
In addition to being a great read for horse lovers, Horse Trouble also highlights the importance of learning to thrive even if your body is not “perfect”. Even though she struggles with her body image, Kate has friends and acknowledges her own abilities. Horse Trouble could be a great book to help young readers get ideas about managing body insecurity.
Bullying, body insecurity, dieting
All of Valerie's careful control of her life, grades, and most importantly her body, goes out the window when tragedy finds her family. In the wake of loss, things first get worse especially as her mother's toxicity towards Valerie and her body gets more invasive. Her relationships crumble as she lashes out, but with time and reflection Valerie realizes she needs help and the way she lives isn't normal, her mother's attitude isn't normal, and Valerie reaches out for help. Hungry Ghost ends not with a perfect happily ever after, but instead that recovery is a process.
What makes Hungry Ghost particularly great is that it shows how pervasive the thoughts around eating disorders are, and how normalized it can all be for people dealing with them. The way Valerie is written feels true to teens, and with the story being serious and not overly happy, I could see this being a great recommendation for teens. There's also resources in the back, so if they want to do more research they can without having to ask someone.
Depictions of binging and purging, disordered eating
I'm Kinda Chubby and I'm Your Hero
Ponjirou is an actor trying to get his big break but is worried his weight will get in the way of his dreams. Mysterious gifts of sweets from a local shop give him a needed pick-me-up. When he meets his secret fan--Konnosuke, a local pastry chef--the two start forming a deep friendship. With each supporting the other, can they achieve their goals?
With a sweet, light plot centered around a great relationship, I’m Kinda Chubby and I’m Your Hero is a charming story that is perfect for readers looking for a positive story featuring a chubby lead. I would especially recommend this to readers who love warm character dynamics similar to those found in Heartstopper.
Some fatphobia and intoxication
My Body in Pieces
Written first in her native French and translated for English-speaking audiences by Shelley Tanaka, Marie-Noëlle Hébert's graphic memoir, My Body in Pieces, is an unflinching look at a girl trying to break free of her own self-destruction while those around her only reinforce negative opinions and stereotypes.
Like many young girls, society has convinced young Marie-Noëlle that the solution to all of her problems (her family making fun of her eating habits at the dinner table, the girls at school calling her ugly, the boy she likes not paying her any attention) is to be thin and beautiful. But when she starts a fitness routine to try to change, it sends her down a spiral of obsession with her weight and appearance, and into bouts of depression and suicidal ideation. When a close friend convinces her to try therapy, though, her journey starts to take a turn in the direction of healing and self-confidence.
Hébert's graphite pencil illustrations in a variety of art styles depict both intensely difficult, potentially triggering subjects and the beauty of finding and becoming unapologetically yourself. Told in language easily approachable to teen readers, My Body in Pieces is a moving, important coming-of-age tale,
Teen readers who have enjoyed other graphic memoirs about mental health and/or memoirs about teens in difficult situations who have survived and found their own strength. Also would appeal to adults who enjoy graphic memoirs.
Mentions of suicidal ideation, depression, eating disorder, body dysmorphia.
In this raw memoir, Hayley Gold explores her quest to make an impact while battling her anorexia.
Nervosa will appeal to readers who like frank narratives that don’t follow conventional narrative patterns for a topic. Gold doesn’t sugarcoat her emotions or condition, and I appreciated her honest discussion of the physical and psychological impacts of her struggle with the disease and the often cruel medical system in which she was a frequently frustrated and reluctant participant.
Nervosa includes several hospital scenes and medical treatments; there are incidents of cruel treatment from staff, including one molestation. It also frankly discusses anorexia’s mental aspects as well as the physical conditions that can result from having the disease. Calorie numbers, as well as eating disorder behaviors (hiding food, tactics to change weight, etc.), are also portrayed. Nervosa also addresses Gold’s difficult upbringing, including Gold’s father’s frequent putdowns of her mother and Gold herself.
Short and Skinny
This graphic novel is based on the author's experience growing up in the late 70s as a comic-loving kid who dreams of a growth spurt and big muscles. Right before summer vacation, Mark finds an ad that promises all of this with the help of a miracle cure that claims to make you taller and/or stronger in the back of a Mad Magazine. He thinks this is the boon he's been waiting for and sends away for it, hoping to go back to school in the fall completely changed. This is all happening in the summer of 1977, the same summer that the first Star Wars movie came out. Mark quickly falls in love with the movie and wants to create a parody movie. With the help of his friends and family, he spends the whole summer planning, prepping, and filming his Star Wars parody film and learns that people like him for his humor and creativity, even if he didn't get those instant muscles or grow 5 inches taller.
Lovers of Dairy of a Wimpy Kid will love this underdog story.
Maggie Edkins Willis
Lucy loves and looks up to her big sister, Livy, but lately, Livy has been acting differently. Soon Lucy discovers Livy has an eating disorder, and she can’t help Lucy with her problems at her new school. Lately, Lucy has been wondering if her own problems would go away if she changed her body…
This warm story about two sisters wrestling with school challenges and disordered eating strikes a perfect balance of hopeful and honest, and middle-grade and tween readers dealing with the complicated challenges of tween/teen life and body image will want to pick this up. The sisters’ bond is a wonderful centerpiece of the book, and the vibrant art brings the story to life. As a bonus, Edkins Willis offers some resources for those going through similar struggles in her afterword.
Smaller Sister portrays eating disorder thought patterns and behaviors as well as bullying.