A 2023 POLITICAL BOOK OF THE YEAR (WATERSTONES) | 'GROUND-BREAKING' Bernardine Evaristo | 'UNIVERSAL AND TIMELY' Elif Shafak | 'IMPORTANT' Sathnam Sanghera | 'A GENEROUS OFFERING' Nana Darkoa Sekiyamah | 'QUIETLY RADICAL'Evening Standard | 'INTIMATE' Guardian
What can ancestral practices teach us about how to live fuller lives today?
Upon turning forty, Afua Hirsch had an encounter that forever altered her preconceived notions of ancestry and body image, making her question everything from body-modification rituals such as tattoos and piercings to the foundations of sexuality, as well as attitudes towards puberty, ageing and death. This book charts her year-long journey of radical unlearning. Bringing together global scholarship, on-the-ground reportage, personal anecdotes and interviews with beauty experts, practitioners and service users, she reassesses notions of body image beyond those of the colonial, patriarchal gaze.
Decolonising My Body is a powerful excavation of the Eurocentric beauty standards that have long shaped how, in particular, those from the Global Majority are perceived and view themselves. Taking us from puberty to end-of-life, Hirsch shows us that the ways in which we adorn and present ourselves have spiritual implications and shape the possibilities we see for ourselves in the world.
These insights and discoveries will empower you to reconnect with your own ancestry, better understand the link between beauty, history and (respectability) politics, and liberate yourself from mainstream standards and systems that aren’t serving you.
*Co-host of the LOYALTY podcast with Peter Frankopan*
Exceptionally rich, inspiring, challenging, wise and moving. I didn't realise I needed this book until I read it and felt stirrings towards my own ancestral awakening of African female cultural beliefs and practices that were sadly long ago lost to the colonial project. This is a ground-breaking book that speaks to all women. * Bernardine Evaristo, author of 'Girl, Woman, Other' *
I would wholeheartedly recommend Decolonising My Body by Afua Hirsch. It is a very brave and honest exploration, almost and excavation of Eurocentric standards of beauty and perceptions of body, particularly of the female body. It is also a calm and wise call of an awakening, a friendly – or sisterly – invitation to a transformative journey beyond these mental walls that have been erected around and between us by capitalism and patriarchy and colonialism. I found it both universal and timely -- Elif Shafak * The New Statesman Books of the Year 2023 *
There's something on every page of this book that you didn't know before, or makes you look at things a new. An important publication. -- Sathnam Sanghera, author of 'Stolen History' and 'Empireland'
Decolonising my Body is both a generous offering, and a joy filled testimony. Afua skilfully pulls us into her world, and generously allows us to accompany her on a journey of questioning and unpacking notions of beauty. This exploration lights a path for all people who seek to (re)connect with more expansive understandings of beauty. -- Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah, author of 'The Sex Lives of African Women'
Afua has cut through so much of the noise to provide an enlightening and necessary reflection on how we can learn from the wisdom and beauty of our ancestors to become spiritually healthier humans. This book is a knowledge gift to us all. * Naomi Evans, author of 'The Mixed Race Experience', co-Founder of Everyday Racism *
The journalist, commentator and author of Brit(ish) reflects on twelve months radical unlearning of Eurocentric and patriarchal conventions of beauty in this powerful and challenging volume. * Waterstones, 'Best Books of 2023: Politics' *
This is a vital, challenging account of reassessing body image beyond the colonial, patriarchal gaze – told with Hirsch’s trademark rigour and purpose * i, *Christmas Gift Guide 2023* *
Decolonising My Bodyis Hirsch’s pilgrimage towards another definition of rest and care, one that feels ancestral and intimate. As a reader you can’t help but be swept up in her quest of gentle unlearning and relearning -- Niellah Arboinne * The Guardian *
A remarkable journey to unlearn western beauty standards and explore ancestral skin, hair and body modification rituals. -- Funmi Fetto * Observer *
Disarmingly honest... quietly radical * Evening Standard *
Praise for Brit(ish): Highly personal and yet instantly universal, this is a book that millions will instantly relate to. The book for our divided and dangerous times. * David Olusoga, author of 'Black and British' *
Praise for Brit(ish): A warm, informative and occasionally heart-wrenching blend of personal and political and the messiness between the two' * Nikesh Shukla, author of 'The Good Immigrant' *
Dimensions: 243mm x 180mm x 23mm