Title : Mirror, Mirror
Author : Andaleeb Wajid
Publisher : Duckbill Books, Penguin Random House – India
Type : Paperback
Recommended Age : 13-17 years (Young Adult)
‘Mirror, Mirror’ is a book that I wish I had read as a teenager having grown up in a society that shamed me for being ‘sickly thin’. Body shaming is something that is so deeply rooted in our society that often it is passed off as a genuine concern or a joke. But, the impact of these insensitive comments is very real, forever altering a person’s relationship with their body.
At its core, this book is about a girl and her struggle with being body shamed and her subsequent struggles at loving herself. Ananya, a bright teenager who loves baking, is fat shamed by friends at a birthday party, after which she transforms into a biryani hating, salad eating, cracker munching, hangry, “work in progress” woman, who sees nothing but her fat bulges in the mirror.
She cannot understand the body positivity movement because she can’t get herself to love her bulges. As if she didn’t have enough to handle in life, her parents declare that her mom is pregnant; and her childhood friend who she had completely cut off from her life for the past 5 years, suddenly reappears. How will Ananya handle all these changes while still struggling with her own body image issues?
What I loved about the book is its completely non-preachy tone and the fantastic story-telling which makes sure that the writing resonates with everyone – teens and adults alike. The author has touched upon topics that make it very easy for teens to identify with the character – the inability to choose a career path right after school, the desire to take a year off to find one’s calling, and of course navigating new found love in the age of social media! The book is unputdownable, and I read it in less than 24 hours!
However, my biggest takeaway from the book has to be the concept of body neutrality. In the author’s words,
“How I feel about myself has nothing to do with my appearance”.
This is something every teen should grow up knowing, and every adult who has been body shamed as a child should know, which is why this book is an absolute must read for everyone.
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