Decolonising My Body

Decolonising My Body

A radical exploration of rituals and beauty


Brought to you by Penguin.

How do we determine what is beautiful? Whose standards are we trying to meet when we spend our hard-earned money on our haircare, skincare and makeup; where do they come from, and how can we learn to undo them?

Upon getting her first tattoo at 40 years old, award-winning journalist Afua Hirsch embarked on a journey to reclaim her body from the colonial ideas of purity, adornment and ageing she - and many of us - absorbed while growing up. Informed by research from around the world, Afua will look at how individual and collective notions of what is beautiful are constructed or stripped away from us. Through personal anecdotes, interviews from beauty experts, practitioners and service users, she explores the global history of skin, hair and body modification rituals. These insights and discoveries will empower readers to reconnect with their cultures of origin, better understand the link between beauty and politics, and liberate themselves from mainstream beauty standards that aren't serving them.

©2023 Afua Hirsch (P)2023 Penguin Audio


  • Exceptionally rich, inspiring, challenging, wise and moving. I didn't realise I needed this book until I read it and felt stirrings towards my own ancestral awakening of African female cultural beliefs and practices that were sadly long ago lost to the colonial project. This is a ground-breaking book that speaks to all women.
    Bernardine Evaristo, author of 'Girl, Woman, Other'

About the author

Afua Hirsch

Afua Hirsch is a writer, filmmaker, and journalist. She is the author of Brit(ish), the Sunday Times bestselling book that explores Britishness, identity and belonging, for which she was awarded the Royal Society of Literature Jerwood Prize for Non-Fiction. She co-presented Enslaved, a 6-part series about the transatlantic slave trade with Samuel L Jackson. She is also the presenter of the Audible podcast series We Need To Talk About the British Empire, and Africa Rising, an ongoing flagship series about art and culture for the BBC, through the production company she founded, Born in Me Productions. She is a longtime columnist for the Guardian and is a professor of journalism at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.
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