Wisdom of the Body: A book review


I was a little disappointed in this book. It’s not what I had hoped it would be with a real look at the beauty of the body from an orthodox Catholic position. But let’s review this book on what it was rather than what I hoped it would be.

The Wisdom of the Body is almost a self-led retreat to embrace your body with all of its gifts and flaws. Women don’t need to look far to see media that encourages them to hate their bodies. All of us get the messages, we’re either too fat, or too thin, too many stretch marks, too many freckles or zits. Any woman growing up in the western world has seen the ads and the photoshop and at some point in their lives compared themselves to these unrealistic images.

Each chapter includes a reflection, a profile of a female saint or woman from Scripture, a recommended art project, journaling project, dance, yoga and poetry. Sprinkled in are the responses of women in the past who have done these things. The responses really give the reader a bit of a feeling of community, that other women who have done these exercises before had similar responses and has similar feelings about their bodies.

Despite the fact that this book is published by Ave Maria Press, the audience for this book is intended to be much more broad than Catholic. You don’t even necessarily have to be Christian to appreciate the reflections and exercises in this book. This might (especially when I mentioned the word “yoga”) set off warning bells for some of my readers, but I really didn’t see anything problematic in this book. I’m a firm believer that yoga and eastern thought in and of itself is not necessarily bad, God’s light can shine in all sorts of places, just don’t replace it with the Gospel.

I did some of the exercises with my 4-year-old son. He loved the free dancing and the art. I can’t say I really discovered anything new about myself or learned anything else about appreciating my body through the activities, but I was also corralling a child. I might have had a different experience if I had been able to do them on my own. The reflections themselves were pretty and refreshingly body-positive.

I got the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review through my membership in NetGalley. Thank you Ave Maria Press again for this book!  It is available starting March 3 through your favorite bookseller.