On Monday, Our Bodies Ourselves Board Chair Bonnie Shepard announced in a letter that the historic nonprofit is planning major changes in the coming months. After facing several years of financial struggle, the feminist organization has decided, among other things, to stop updating their signature book about girls' and women's' sexuality, Our Bodies, Ourselves. The 2011 edition of the book will remain available in paperback and on Kindle.
In print for over 40 years, Our Bodies, Ourselves has been a source of information, inspiration, and empowerment for generations of women who relied on its guidance for all things health and sexuality. In fact, I was 13 when my mother decided to spare me the awkward sex talk she was ill-equipped to give and instead hand me a copy of the book I would return to time and time again with my questions about safe sex, body image, birth control, menstruation, abortion, and so much more. Like with so many other young girls and women, Our Bodies, Ourselves offered judgement-free answers to all of my hardest, most personal questions about my body, sex, and being a woman. Unfortunately for future generations, the feminist classic will no longer be updated or printed, and considering the state of sex education in the United States, losing Our Bodies, Ourselves is a shame.
Although no additional copies of Our Bodies, Ourselves will be updated or printed, the nonprofit organization behind the iconic title still wants to make the information available to anyone seeking it. In order to do so, Our Bodies Ourselves plans to turn their existing website into a landing page that showcases excerpts from the book, including translated adaptations in 31 languages. The new site will also include a blog featuring archived reports and analysis, a history of the organization, a record of the work it's done over the past nearly 50 years, and updated information about ongoing advocacy efforts and their impacts.
"We take great pride in the transformative impact that our publications and advocacy have had in the lives of millions of girls, women, and their families in the United States and around the world," Our Bodies Ourselves chair Bonnie Shepard said in her letter announcing the changes. "We thank the foundations, corporations, and, most of all, you — our faithful donors, allies, and volunteers — who have supported us over the years and contributed to these achievements. We hope you’ll join our advocacy efforts in the next iteration of Our Bodies Ourselves."
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article stated that Our Bodies, Ourselves would no longer be published. The 2011 version of the book will remain available in paperback and on Kindle.