Literature teaches self-acceptance

I don't mean to sound depressed and sad, but sometimes I'm hit with the overwhelming qualm of hating my body, and at times, my personality. I'd say that this lack of self confidence comes from a desire to be the way that society often portrays the perfect woman.

There are different shades to this perfection. She, or he, could be that person who gets perfect grades and still manages to look decent every day. That person who is happy with all aspects of their life, and opportunities come running their way. The perfect person who doesn't gain weight and still manages to get in 8 hours of Netflix binge-watching and a carton of ice cream each day. What I see as perfection is what I seem to fail to be.

The best way to get out of this hole is the encouragement of others. I'm under the impression that people are born to love; it's the easiest instinct. That love is shared to those who most need it. It comes from friends and family, and it can also come from afar through social media inspiration posts and images. The other media that teaches and encourages us to love ourselves is literature.

1. "Eat, Pray, Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert

Life can trip us up with the most inconvenient setbacks. For Elizabeth Gilbert, her perfect world was turned upside down with a divorce and harsh depression. The book follows her journey to rediscover herself through three different cultures. It's the kind of book that encourages readers to always discover different facets of their personality, and happiness.

2. "Eleanor and Park" by Rainbow Rowell

Rainbow Rowell creates the perfect unconventional couple in Eleanor, a socially awkward redhead, and Park, the Korean boy-next-door. This dissonant duo learns to love in spite of societal standards of the perfect person.

3. "Will Grayson, Will Grayson" by John Green and David Levithan

You know it's meant to be when you both have the same name, and cross paths in the same big city. Will Grayson and Will Grayson fall in love, and the rest is history.

4. "Wonder" by R.J. Palacio

R.J. Palacio's story follows a boy with an extraordinary face, trying to live an ordinary lifestyle. The story reminds us that physical differences don't make another person less human, and less like us.

5. "I am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban" by Malala Yousafzai

Malala Yousafzai, in spite of the pain she endured when the Taliban tried to strip her of her life, fought to keep her education. This is the story of the importance of women, and education. The book reminds everyone to fight for what's important, in spite of how insignificant others try to make you feel.

These books, and many others like them, encourage us to find our inner perfect person. The perfection is already within us, and writers look for ways to help us discover that.

Further recommendations: "Such a Pretty Fat" by Jen Lancaster and "Queen of the Oddballs" by Hillary Carlip

Reach the columnist at arabusa@asu.edu or on Twitter @marie_eo.


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