The human body is far more diverse than we are often led to believe. And that is also good. So it’s high time to take a closer look at the ideal of beauty and the idea of norms and to question them thoroughly.
Amelie Persson draws every part of your body in different shapes openly and without frills. It illustrates thereby excellently the described variety.
The short texts report factual, informative and age-appropriate exciting and background information about each body part.
Review by Claudia Goldammer Aug 2020
Hardly any two people are alike, and the range of nuances is almost unbelievable. Blue eyes can appear with black hair, a wider butt with a narrow chest – nothing is impossible. And yet, over the centuries, ideals of beauty have emerged that have been and continue to be a guiding principle for many people, something to strive for and a template for how they want to shape their bodies.
While for many decades it was luxuriantly rounded bodies, this ideal image has changed to very slim, thin figures. However, this ideal is not followed equally in all cultures, in some countries curves are still clearly the preferred body shape. But is what stares back at us from the front pages of lifestyle magazines or flickers across the screen what is "normal"? And what does that mean for people who look different??
Tall or short, with freckles or without, red curls or black straight hair, dense beard growth or just a few stubble, wide or narrow feet – the variety of external appearance in humans is almost inexhaustible.
Sonja Eismann and Amelie Persson are very much in agreement that beauty ideals are not the norm and therefore the measure of all things. Wonderfully unexcited they show in What do you look like? the diversity of the human body, each of which is normal in itself. But an all-encompassing, overarching "normal"? – Clearly, there is no. Because actually, for example, armpit hair is completely normal, but since they are rarely seen in magazines, they are paradoxically perceived as abnormal when we do get to see them. Because no matter whether you have underarm hair or not, whether your butt is small or big, whether your belly hangs or is tight, whether your eyes are almond-shaped or round – every body is normal and good just the way it is.
From the crown to the sole
The author and illustrator convey this observation in a clearly structured book. In twenty chapters, they briefly describe the human body: starting with hair and skin, and moving on to ears, eyes, mouth, and feet. Even the belly button is dedicated a separate chapter. Each of these is introduced by a double-page illustration showing the body part in various forms (but without claiming to be complete).
This visual introduction is followed by a two-page text that deals with the various forms of appearance, changed ideas of beauty, different cultural perspectives or even terminology. The descriptions are concise and factual and do very well without a raised forefinger. Together with the open, yet equally matter-of-fact and straightforward illustrations, which show different penis shapes as well as different hairstyles, the result is a very coherent overall picture that certainly encourages a comprehensive relaxed approach to the subject of the "body.
In a short introduction that precedes the chapters on body parts, Sonja Eismann explains that although this book is mainly about girls and boys, respectively, it is also about the sexes. men and women goes, but also points out that not all people feel they belong to one of these two categories. She does use the terms in places to bring up previous or even still current ways of thinking, but also falls back on the gender asterisk to address all people. In any case, this does not disturb the flow of reading.
The human body is not only a rich topic of conversation, it’s also super exciting and full of discoveries. For those who want to embark on an eye-opening journey beyond media ideals of beauty, VirtualDJ 2020/2021 is the right choice What do you look like? strongly recommended.