Why Lit Needs More Plus-size Characters

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Take a second and try to think of one fat or plus-size character in a recent book you’ve read. Did you think of one? Or is it harder than you thought to think of even one?

I, personally, sat here struggling to think of even one for about 15 minutes before I finally came up with something (list below of books with plus-size characters!).

What does this lack of plus-size representation in literature say about us?

By seeing more plus-size characters in literature, our ideas of fat people change. Fat doesn’t mean unfit, nor does it mean weak. For example, I follow a ton of plus-size equestrians on Instagram and I see them doing amazing things, like jumping over fences on their horses. As a plus-size rider myself, I can attest that staying on top of a living 1,000lb creature as it jumps over things using nothing but two pieces of iron, strips of leather and your own legs takes a lot of strength. Case in point, fat does not equal weak or lazy!

Readers, especially young boys and girls reading YA, need to know that being large doesn’t automatically make them less strong or less capable of doing great things.

Also, fat doesn’t equal undesirable. I would love to see more YA and romances with plus-size couples, or even just different body types. I think way too often in YA and romances, the female and male protagonists are often described as insanely beautiful or handsome. Or maybe they do have flaws, but they are very small or relate to something not associated with body size. It’s taken a damn long time but we are finally starting to get some racial and cultural diversity in YA and romances…but diversity in body size seems to still be lagging behind.

By including more body size diversity in books, both young and old readers of varying sizes might see more of themselves in characters. They might see that being fat doesn’t make them undesirable or unable to do cool things. Instead, they might realize that they can be whatever they want to be and that their bodies don’t have to hold them back just because society tells them they should.

Books With Plus-size Protagonists:

  • Lord of the Abyss by Nalini Singh (Not only is the female protagonist in this fantasy love story on the chunky side, but she is also described as having a slight limp and small boobs. AND YET, she gets the hottest guy in the book. BAM.)
  • Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell (Fair warning, Eleanor was confirmed as plus-size by the author after the fact so there isn’t much in the novel that is upfront about her size. Which, yes is a prob, but if you read it with that info in mind, it might help.)
  • Six of Crows series and Nikolai duology by Leigh Bardugo (So, this is a bit disputed but one of the main figures, Nina Zenik, is rumored to be on the curvy side because of dialogue in the books. She’s a badass so I’m taking it.)
  • Puddin’ by Julie Murphy
  • Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertlli
  • Night Play by Sherrilyn Kenyon (Note: Not YA, but a very steamy romance)

*AHEM, one small note on finding romances with plus size protagonists: You’ll probs want to avoid any books that make it super obvious from the title that the main character is fat…like ‘Hot and Heavy’ or ‘Big Girls Do It Better.’ A lot of these books focus a lot on chubby chasing and can sometimes be the opposite of empowering. The best books I’ve read with plus-size characters don’t make that the plot point of the book, but rather an aspect of the character and they happen to be awesome and fat.*

 

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