Monday, July 31, 2017

[Let's Talk]: Give Us Curvy Heroines + Recs




Curvy. Full figure. Plump. Plus size. Fat. There are many words used to describe characters, heroines in particular, who are not a size 2. What word you use or like is up to you, and changes from reader to reader. As an example, some hate the term fat, which has so many negative connotations thanks to society, while others have proudly claimed the word for themselves.



And much like the words used, the sizes vary, too. Which is great! But remember, you don’t want to give your heroine (or hero) specific sizes and numbers. That is, do NOT say: She was a size 14 OR She weighed 180 pounds. Those are unnecessary and can easily lead to comparisons, intentional or unconscious. “Wait, she’s calling herself fat at 180 pounds? I’d KILL to be that small though!”



For one thing, sizes and weight don’t take into account height and weight, nor an individual’s unique body structure. But beyond all of that, it’s just not necessary to give numbers. Numbers, after all, are a societal concept. Who else tells us that a size 2 is “good” while a size 20 is “bad”? It’s sure as hell not the measuring tapes and size charts!



But that’s getting a bit off subject, isn’t it? Sorry. My point was simply: don’t give us your character’s weight and clothing sizes. You can, however, use your words to describe the body to us. Is it jiggly? Is it round? Is it pear shaped? Apple shaped? Big belly? Wide hips? Both? Neither? That’s all fine to describe, but telling us specific pounds and size is meaningless – while at the same time packing far too much meaning, thanks to society’s messages and views. It’s best to just avoid them (numbers) all together.



The other day, I was reading a book that had been recommended by many for its great fat representation and body positivity (as well as being hot and kinky and just a good book in general). And it was all those things, by the way! But reading it got me to thinking: what other romances are there with fat/plus size heroines? Specifically, body/fat positive portrayals, which are even more rare in romance.



So of course I asked Twitter, and romancelandia came through with some great recs and a lot of great discussions in general!




I won’t go into it all again here, but I did a few threads connected to this book and this request for recs.





Ignore any rambling or errors in those threads, of course. 😉



Okay, on to the good stuff – the recs! Now, most of these are not ones that I have read, so I cannot say whether they’re good or bad, whether the heroine’s size is handled well or not, etc. All I can do is pass on the list of books that others told me about. There are a few that I have read, and loved, and I will clearly mark those below.



There’s a bit of a mix of genres, but most are contemporaries, and all the recs I received are for heroines in a M/F romances. Some readers couldn’t recall specific titles, just that a certain author had written some. Some authors have written more than the one that I have listed, but this should at least get you started!




Contemporary





Historical




Paranormal







Now, it was also brought up in the rec thread: where are the plus size / fat heroes? Sadly, there are even fewer fat heroes in romance than heroines, and of the few that were brought up, most were not strictly a romance novel. Or the guy wasn’t so much fat as just “not abs of steel and zero percent body fat”. Which is great, and none of us are going to turn that down, but not exactly what most of us were originally looking for, either. However, I’ve got a small list of recs that I was given for larger heroes:






So what’s the take away from all this? My call for recs reached over 13,000 people on Twitter alone. And I had dozens reply and follow the thread to see what others had to suggest.


Clearly there’s an audience that’s HUNGRY to see more body diversity and positivity in their romance novels. But it looks like there’s just not nearly enough of it out there.



We need more romances with fat heroines – and heroes. All genders, really, and in all pairings (M/M, F/F, M/F, etc.). We need diversity with those fat characters – diversity both in the body shapes and sizes themselves (not all bodies look alike – not all fat bodies look alike, either!), but also diversity in regard to intersectional characters (fat and queer, fat and POC, fat and disabled, etc., etc., etc.).



Basically: GIVE US ALL THE FAT, CURVY, ROUND, WHATEVER-WORD-YOU-PREFER-HERE, BEAUTIFUL CHARACTERS!



Once again for the people in the back: YOUR COVER SHOULD MATCH YOUR CHARACTERS. I’m tired of seeing a skinny model standing in for a plus size heroine.



I know that authors who are traditionally published don’t have any control over their covers – but the publishers do, and they need to change. And I know that stock photography is lacking – again, they need to change! I realize it’s easy for me as a reader to say “I want the covers to accurately represent the characters NOW”, when it’s not so easy for authors to DO that. I’m just pointing out that this is something that needs to change in the industry, and it’s not going to happen if readers, and authors, don’t voice their anger and disappointment on the matter. Repeatedly and loudly, to be quite honest.



What other romances with a fat heroine or hero do you know of and recommend? Any genre, any pairing, please!




Enjoy!



Until Next Time,

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