Quarto Kids | 1 March 2020Meet the Author: Jessica Sanders Share article facebook twitter google pinterest Jessica Sanders, author of Love Your Body, took the world by storm when she created the first iteration of her book through Kickstarter back in 2018. Now, two years later, the book is available in 26 different countries, and Jessica shows no signs of slowing down when it comes to spreading messages of body positivity! We caught up with Jessica to talk about her book and the incredible process she went through to create it. First of all, can you tell us how this book came to be? It had a pretty fun journey on the road to publication! It was definitely a wild (and fun) ride to publication. The idea to write a book was first born during a passionate conversation with my housemate / best friend Hannah around our kitchen table. We were discussing a recent news article which was shining a light on the amount of unnecessary cosmetic surgery in girls under 18. According to this study the number was increasingly dramatically. After hearing that, something in me just snapped; it felt as though the pressure of perfection for young girls was only getting worse, and I had to do something about it. Hannah suggested that I write a book. I’d never considered doing so before, but I latched onto the idea. I wanted to reach girls as, or before, it started. A book was the perfect medium to reach them at that age. After doing some research, I realised that there was a severe lack of resources for young girls on this subject. Which is kind of crazy considering I’ve never met a woman who didn’t have a negative body image growing up. In August of 2018, I launched my Kickstarter which went really well; we were able to completely fund the creation of the book. Towards the end of that process, I was approached by a few publishers which is how I met all the wonderful humans at Five Mile. I was blown away by their commitment to accessibility, and the women I met with shared their own experiences of negative body image with me. I knew Love Your Body would be in safe hands with them. After that it got even wilder: Five Mile took Love Your Body to the Frankfurt International Book Fair and there was huge interest in the book internationally. Today Love Your Body has publishers in 26 countries and counting. Which brings us to the present day where we are just one day away from Quarto releasing Love Your Body in the US/UK and Canada!!! As a debut author, what was it like to create a book? And as someone without a publisher, how did you start to fit together all of the pieces (illustration, design, the list of resources in the back…)? Writing Love Your Body didn’t come naturally at first. I felt stuck, I didn’t know how to even begin. I asked my mum who gave me some great advice; she said, “Imagine a young girl is right in front of you, what would you say to her?” This helped me to write from the heart and share everything I wish I’d known. I began looking for an illustrator towards the end of 2017. I knew the illustrator would be really important, as representation was central to this book. I found Carol Rossetti on Instagram — she painted women in a way that was honest and authentic. She was exactly who I wanted to work with, and I reached out over email as she is based in Brazil. Carol was in from day one. She knew exactly why this book was needed and was incredibly passionate about bringing it to life. I then found an incredible local designer, Steph Spartel. We met up for a coffee in February of 2018 and hit it off straight away. Steph was so insightful, and she understood my mission completely. Then, alongside completing my final year of my masters, I worked with Steph and Carol to bring Love Your Body to life. I wanted to make sure this book was as helpful and impactful as possible. That’s why I included the hotlines in the back and the resources on my website. Accessibility was really important to me as well, that’s why all the resources are free. I originally commissioned my designer, Steph, to create the self-care poster as a bonus gift for the Kickstarter. Then my editor had the genius idea of making it into a jacket! I love that every part of the book has been designed with care and intention. As you say, you wrote this book for a very specific audience. Can you expand on why books are the “perfect medium” to reach young girls? Every child deserves to grow up free form the constraints of a negative body image and or low self-worth. Negative body image is not a superficial issue, it can alter the course of a young person’s life. In particular the life of girls. Girls are taught that their worth is completely derived from how they look, and this is dangerous. We know from the Dove Global Confidence Report that if a girl doesn’t like how she looks, 7 out of 10 will not be assertive in their opinion or stick to a decision. Another 8 in 10 will avoid seeing friends and family or trying out for a team or club. Girls will even perform worse in maths and comprehension. It is my hope that children will feel seen, comforted and empowered after reading this book. I also hope that they, along side with their parents, will learn a new way of speaking about bodies that moves away from objectifying them and towards celebrating them for all they can do. I was around 6 when I realised that I was tall, and that this was not necessarily a good thing. I felt as though I was ‘too tall’ to be a girl. As the years went on, my shame around my body and the space it took up got progressively worse. In high school, I put myself on every diet under the sun, and I was in a constant state of comparison – whether that be to my peers or the women I saw represented in the media. I was introduced to the body positive movement in my early 20’s, and it changed everything. I’d never seen women who weren’t the epitome of the beauty ideal embracing their bodies. It was revolutionary to me, and under their guidance I learned how to love my body again. Today I have a really positive relationship with my body. I still have the odd day when I let the negative thoughts in, but I’ve worked hard to quiet them. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself (career, background) and your journey toward body positivity? Growing up I always wanted to be a photographer. From about the age of 10, I was obsessed with photographing everything I saw and creating new scenes and words. I studied Fine Art Photography at University, but through that process I realised I didn’t want to make it my career; it was something that was just for me. So, I took a year off to travel around Europe. I should say at that stage I was a seasoned traveller by then: I worked several jobs alongside Uni and then spent the holidays traipsing around Asia. When I came back from my trip I had decided on social work. I’ve always had a strong sense of justice and issues of gender were particularly interesting to me. I studied gender at Melbourne University for a year before undertaking a Masters in Social Work at RMIT University. I came up with the idea for Love Your Body at the end of my first year so I was a busy to say the least. Okay, a reader has read the book and is on their own path toward body positivity. What are next steps people (children, parents, educators) can take to spread the message? You can spread the message by offering those around you a new way of speaking about their bodies. Diet talk is everywhere, fat talk is everywhere. If you hear someone speaking about a part of their body negatively, try to remind them that their body is not here to be beautiful, that it’s actually here so that they can live their lives and experience everything the world has to offer. When it comes to children, be sure to speak about bodies from a functionality approach. For example, isn’t it wonderful that your strong legs can help you push the peddles of your bike? It’s also great to try to do the gratefulness exercises in the book regularly. We have so many reasons to be grateful for our bodies and reminding ourselves and our children of this has been proven to promote positive body image. Teachers – there will be free lesson plans and student workbooks available at www.re-shape.info so that you can bring body positivity into the classroom. About Jessica Sanders Growing up, Jessica Sanders was always the tallest student in her class, and struggled to accept and love her body. When she was 12, her mother signed her up to play volleyball knowing her height would be celebrated and an advantage. Jessica soon learned that different bodies brought different skills to the team and all these bodies were valued. After leaving high-school, Jessica travelled solo to many countries and climbed some of the world’s highest mountains, always carrying a heavy pack that made her grateful for her strong body. Over time, and through the ups and downs of life’s tough lessons, Jessica grew to love and celebrate her body. Inspired by her own journey, Jessica wrote Love Your Body to educate and empower young girls with the message of self-love. Visit Jessica online at re-shape.info. Love Your Body $17.99 Buy in US / Canada Share article facebook twitter google pinterest If you have any comments on this article please contact us or get in touch via social media.