12 YA books that tackle tricky body image and confidence issues

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Seeing as the whole world is photoshopped to perfection these days, it's more important than ever to make sure you're surrounding yourself with positive ideas and role models for healthy body image and body confidence. Prrrreach.

One of the best places to start is your book shelf, which you can fill with relatable, loveable characters that not only address the difficult side of it all which you have to deal with, but also promote self love and remind you just how fabulous you are too.

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It can be a pretty difficult subject to tackle in fiction, but here's 12 YA books which we reckon deal with things like weight, figures, shape, size, body, confidence and self belief in some really great ways.

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1. The DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat Friend by Kody Keplinger

Bianca Piper is cynical and loyal, and she doesn't think she's the prettiest of her friends by a long shot. She's also way too smart to fall for the charms of man-slut and slimy school hottie Wesley Rush. In fact, Bianca hates him, and when he nicknames her "the Duff," she throws her Coke in his face. But things aren't so great at home right now, and Bianca is desperate for a distraction. She ends up kissing Wesley. Worse, she likes it. Eager for escape, Bianca throws herself into a closeted enemies-with-benefits relationship with him, until it all goes horribly awry.

2. Dumplin' by Julie Murphy

Self-proclaimed fat girl Willowdean Dickson (dubbed "Dumplin'" by her former beauty queen mom) has always been at home in her own skin.With best friend Ellen by her side, things have always worked, until Will takes a job at the local fast-food joint. There she meets Private School Bo, a hot former jock. Will isn't surprised to find herself attracted to Bo, but she is surprised when he seems to like her back. Instead of finding new heights of self-assurance in her relationship with Bo, Will starts to doubt herself. So she sets out to take back her confidence by doing the most horrifying thing she can imagine: entering the Miss Clover City beauty pageant.

3. Only Ever Yours by Louise O'Neill

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In a world in which baby girls are no longer born naturally, women are bred in schools, trained in the arts of pleasing men until they are ready for the outside world. At graduation, the most highly rated girls become 'companions', permitted to live with their husbands and breed sons until they are no longer useful. For the girls left behind, the future – as a concubine or a teacher – is grim. Best friends Freida and Isabel are sure they'll be chosen as companions – they are among the most highly rated girls in their year, but as the intensity of final year takes hold, Isabel does the unthinkable and starts to put on weight. 

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4. Deenie by Judy Blume

When Deenie finds out that she has scoliosis, she's scared. When she sees the huge, very obvious back brace for the first time, she wants to scream. But the words won't come out. And Deenie, beautiful Deenie, who everyone says should be a model, is stuck wearing this giant thing from her neck to her hips for four years—or longer. She never worried about how she looked before, so how will she ever face the hard times ahead?

5. How To Build A Girl by Caitlin Moran

It's 1990. Johanna Morrigan has shamed herself so badly on local TV that she decides that there's no point in being Johanna anymore and reinvents herself as Dolly Wilde—fast-talking, hard-drinking Gothic hero and full-time Lady Sex Adventurer. She will save her poverty-stricken Bohemian family by becoming a writer—like Jo in Little Women, or the Bröntes—but without the dying young bit. By sixteen, she's smoking cigarettes, getting drunk and working for a music paper, but is a box full of records, a wall full of posters, and a head full of paperbacks, enough to build a girl after all?

6. Future Perfect by Jen Larsen

Every year on her birthday, Ashley Perkins gets a card from her grandmother—a card that always contains a promise: lose enough weight, and I will buy your happiness. Ashley doesn't think there's anything wrong with the way she looks, but she falters when Grandmother offers the one thing she's always wanted: tuition to attend Harvard University—in exchange for undergoing weight loss surgery. What's a girl to do when the reflection in her mirror seems to bother everyone but her? Through her indecisions and doubts, Ashley's story is a liberating one—a tale of one girl, who knows that weight is just a number, and that no one is completely perfect.

7. The Earth, My Butt and Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler

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Virginia Shreves has a larger-than-average body and a plus-size inferiority complex, especially when she compares herself to her slim, brilliant, picture-perfect family. But that's before a shocking phone call — and a horrifying allegation — about her rugby-star brother changes everything. With irreverent humour and surprising gravity, Carolyn Mackler creates an endearingly blunt heroine who speaks to every teen who struggles with family expectations, and proves that the most impressive achievement is to be true to yourself.

8. Fat Cat by Robin Brande

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Catherine Locke is smart, ambitious, and okay, not the slimmest girl around, but she's always cared more about her brain than her body. So far that's gotten her where she wanted: into the most advanced, competitive science class at her high school, where she'll once again face her fiercest rival, Matt McKinney.The guy who once broke her heart. If Cat's plan works, she'll win it all: a huge improvement in her body and her lifestyle, first prize at the science fair, admission to the college of her choice, and best of all, revenge on Matt McKinney. But as every scientist knows, even the best experiments can go wildly out of control.

9. Skinny by Donna Cooner

Hopeless. Freak. Elephant. Pitiful. These are the words of Skinny, the vicious voice that lives inside fifteen-year-old Ever Davies's head. Skinny tells Ever all the dark thoughts her classmates have about her. Ever knows she weighs over three hundred pounds, knows she'll probably never be loved, and Skinny makes sure she never forgets it. Ever begins the uphill battle toward change. But demons, she finds, are not so easy to shake, not even as she sheds pounds. Because Skinny is still around. And Ever will have to confront that voice before she can truly find her own.

10. True Face by Siobhan Curham

We are living in the age of the image - the perfect image. From the constant bombardment of air-brushed photos, to the dubious lifestyle choices promoted by celebrities and the obsession with social media, young women are under pressure as never before to project a persona of perfection. And this is having a catastrophic effect, with girls as young as seven developing eating disorders and female self-loathing reaching epidemic proportions. True Face shows you how to resist the pressure from the 'perfection police' and take off the masks you wear to proudly reveal your true self to the world, with chapters dealing with body image, bullying, social media, love, sex and more.

11. Artichoke's Heart by Suzanne Supplee

Rosemary Goode is smart and funny and loyal and the best eyebrow waxer in Spring Hill, Tennessee. But only one thing seems to matter to anyone, including Rosemary: her weight. And when your mom runs the most successful (and gossipy) beauty shop in town, it can be hard to keep a low profile. Rosemary resolves to lose the weight, but her journey turns out to be about everything but the scale. Her life-changing, waist-shrinking year is captured with brutal honesty and humour, topped with an extra-large helping of Southern charm for a truly uncommon novel about an increasingly common problem.

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12. Leaving Paradise by Simone Elkeles

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Nothing has been the same since Caleb Becker left a party drunk, got behind the wheel, and hit Maggie Armstrong. Even after months of painful physical therapy, Maggie walks with a limp. Her social life is nil and a scholarship to study abroad has been cancelled. After a year in juvenile jail, Caleb's free, and coming home should feel good - but his family and ex-girlfriend seem like strangers. Caleb and Maggie are outsiders, pigeon-holed as 'criminal' and 'freak'. Then the truth emerges about what really happened the night of the accident and everything changes. 

Have you read any of this lot? Any more recommendations for us? Let us know with a tweet to @Sugarscape.

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