A YOUNG woman from Skipton has put together a fascinating self-help collection of poetry and essays from writers on the subject of body image, how their feelings have changed and adapted as they have grown older and wiser.

Emma Willingham, 25, says ‘The Resilience of Being’ is an anthology, collating stories of people’s experiences with their body image, including the damaging, the helpful, and the revolutionary.

The book, she says, is aimed at all, wherever they are in their lives. It took her a year to put together, and most of the 20 men and women contributors hail from Craven, Leeds and Bradford, but with a few from the south of the country, and also the United States.

Emma , a creative currently working in publishing, volunteering as an editor, and writing mostly for herself, is offering the book free to community groups, libraries and educational institutions, and says she is willing to host workshops on the subject of body image - once coronavirus restrictions allow.

In the introduction to the book, she says she started it as a project to challenge the idea that ‘our bodies exist just to be fixed’. “I want people to know that damaging ways of treating yourself do not need to be the default, even if you’ve gotten used to them by now,” she says.

One of the contributors in the book, 78 year old Eva Tutchell, writes ‘in praise of duffel coats’ how in 1960 she was only the second woman in Britain to have a breast reduction operation.

At 16 years old, she was five feet tall, with a small waist, 24 inches, and a 38G bust. “Although I always had a pretty face, all I was conscious of were those unsightly protuberances which preceded me wherever I went.”

She envied other girls with smaller breasts, while men’s eyes would ‘automatically stray’ to hers before turning away with embarrassment. Following her operation, she felt an immediate sense of joy.

Madelaine Taylor, 45, on the subject of ‘hiding in fat’, shares her experience of being overweight all her life, and figuring out in middle-age that she is actually trans-gender, while others write about body piercing, being a victim of sexual abuse and ‘fat shaming’.

Emma says: “With body image becoming a significant topic across social media and it being used as an advertising tool, this publication shows there is more to body confidence than simply saying ‘all bodies are beautiful.’ Instead, it highlights how real people have learned, and are learning, to believe that.”

The Resilience of Being is available on Amazon, priced £6. 99. Groups interested in finding out about workshops, can contact Emma by email: resilienceofbeing@gmail.com