Hey everyone! I wanted to talk about something that I don’t think gets enough notice in the book community: fat people. As a proud, plus-sized, fat, woman, I love it when I see characters who LOOK like me. I think part of this is because, as an actor, I am always looking for roles that I can play in any movie adaptation of whatever I’m reading…but don’t we all do that in a way? Don’t we all look for the characters who remind us of ourselves?
I started thinking about this because the announcement has finally dropped that we’ll be getting the Netflix Shadow and Bone show this April, which I am SUPER excited about! However, Nina is canonically curvy/fat…and…well, the actress doesn’t represent the fat community like the book character does. While, I’m still super excited to see one of my favorite series’ and characters come to life, it does make me sad to know that one of the characters who I identified with the most, isn’t going to look like me on the screen.
BUT that got me thinking…what other fat characters do I relate to? Which ones are my favorites? So, I decided to make a list and give you some recommendations on some awesome, badass, fat people!
This one probably doesn’t come as a shock to anyone, because I’m pretty sure she’s on every single list of plus-sized characters that has ever been created. But let me tell you why I love her so much. Willowdean is one of those girls who knows she’s fat and she revels in it. She fully understands how the world sees her and other girls like her. And she embraces it! She decides to compete in a Texas Beauty Pageant which is one of the most size-exclusive events AROUND. I adore Willowdean because she is so real. She isn’t this fortified castle wall of body positivity. She has negative views of her own body, but we all do, which is why she is so relatable. I wish that I had the strength of Willowdean when I was in highschool. I remember wanting to sign up for pageants and being turned away for being fat – I wish that I, like Willowdean, had not let my size stop me. And that is why she is my absolute FAVORITE fat character ever written. She has every thought about her body that I’ve had about mine, and she still goes after what she wants, and I think that’s incredibly inspiring.
Simon Vs. The Homosapiens Agenda
Leah On The Offbeat
This one is another one where the actress doesn’t really match the level of fatness that the book describes. One of my absolute favorite, most relatable characters, is Leah Burke. She’s fat. She’s badass. She’s bisexual. She plays the drums (a childhood dream of mine, my parent’s eardrums are very happy this one didn’t pan out). God I loved this character SO MUCH. While I think that Katherine Langford is very talented, and did capture the personality of Leah, I so wish that we had had some fat girl rep in one of the biggest YA movies that celebrates diversity. Here’s hoping we get a Leah movie or show, and we get some great fat girl rep!!
I really loved Nimona because this was the first time I had seen a curvy person in a graphic novel. So many artists draw these super slim girls and muscular men, and the body shapes don’t really ever differ from “classic beauties” (unless it’s to add bigger boobs). But Nimona is different. She was drawn like I’m shaped – little chest, and big hips. Immediately, I was in love with this shapeshifter. She could have chosen any shape for herself, but yet, here she was, looking just like me (but with a rockin haircut). While I’m also really not here for the whole “fat is a villainous trait” trope, there was something just so wholesome and pure about Nimona that made me love her, and didn’t feel like that trope at all.
Julie & Selena
I loved both of these characters so much in their own ways! Julie reminds me a lot of myself. This somewhat shy, anxious character who wants to impress her new girlfriend. Selena is very much who I am becoming and always wished I could be – courageous, outgoing, sure of herself, confident in her body and abilities. I love that these two curvy women found each other in this series, because I think that they bring out the best in each other and help each other grow. I loved seeing this casual, positive rep of fat women, because their size is never mentioned. Ever. They’re just drawn fat, and that makes my heart happy.
Size 12 Is Not Fat
Ok. I’ll admit. This character is problematic. But I think we all have one or two problematic faves who become comfort characters, and Heather Wells is mine. Throughout the series, she talks about how she used to be skinny and she’s gaining weight, and now she’s not famous, and she should diet, and feels bad when she breaks that diet. However, she gets better about this as the series goes on, and that’s something that I greatly respect, because we all have an ever-growing, ever-changing relationship to our bodies, and it was nice to see a character who goes through that to loving herself (yes, she finds validation for her body in men…it’s still problematic…but let me eat my ice cream and wallow in it okay?) It was really fun to see a plus size character who was funny, and solves crimes in the dorm building she manages, that also wasn’t the fat comedienne (aka Rebel Wilson – love her, but I don’t need the funny fat girl trope anymore). Definitely a problematic fave, but a fave nonetheless.
And there is my list of my favorite fat characters! As I was typing this up, I realized…there isn’t a single character on this list who doesn’t identify as female, and I honestly can’t think of a single book with a fat character who isn’t female. So! If you have any recommendations with fat men or non-binary characters, please drop them in the comments, because I would love to read them! Let me know what fat characters are at the top of your list!