Let’s be honest: when you’re starting to explore activism for the very first time, it can seem pretty intimidating and scary. This is why Michelle Elman, a 23-year-old body confidence coach based in London, decided to start her own book club that would allow people to learn all about fat activism in a safe, easy, and enjoyable environment.
Elman, who is behind the Instagram account @Scarrednotscared, had been regularly sharing body-positive videos via her personal YouTube account when she noticed people often had more questions about body positivity and body image than her videos were able to address. Elman explains, “People often have a lot of queries when they first start their body positive journey and I find books are the best way to answer these questions.”
When it came to planning her book club, Elman wanted to choose books that would not only empower her followers but that would provide engaging and thought-provoking discussions on topics ranging from identity, privilege, intuitive eating, and intersectionality — just to name a few. On the 15th of every month, she will announce the next book to the group, and on the 1st of the following month, they will start reading it.
To date, the group has read nine books including Roxane Gay’s Hunger and Body Positive Power by Megan Jayne Crabbe (aka Body Posi Panda) and grown its membership to just over 1100 people. It also inspired Elman to write a book of her own. Am I Ugly? One Woman’s Journey to Body Positivity will be released in July 2018.
“Body positive books were a huge part of my education and I feel it’s important to keep that element in body positivity,” explains Elman, who makes a point to select books that will spark conversation, challenge conventional thinking, and inspire action and change in everyday life.
Elman said it was a deliberate choice to make the group an online community, specifically in a private Facebook group, as she thought it would be an easier venue for people to explore and discuss topics that they might not be so comfortable doing in public.
“It feels like a safe space where every question is welcomed and people aren’t shamed for not knowing all the answers,” she says.
For those who aren’t ready to commit, Elman uploads a book review to her own personal YouTube channel that sums up the club’s discussion surrounding each selection. Elman hopes these vids can convince people to join, learn, and make friends in the process.
Are you involved in a book club? Tell us @britandco!
(Photo via Michelle Elman)