Hi friends! So this post was inspired by just an offhand comment about how fat heroines are [rarely] actually fat in romance, or there’s something ridiculous about them – e.g. the “fat heroine” has visible ribs the hero counts or runs his fingers over. Anyway, I then asked N.R. in the spring if she wanted to write a post, this was sent to me back in June, but I’m basically awful and had to put this off because scheduling and then time got away with me, so if anything is off, this is my fault. And also, thank you N.R. for your patience! I really hope you all take the time to read this post. <3
I’d also like to note that all covers shown here are recommended romances, regardless of placement in the post. I just like pictures, ok? 😉
On Fat Heroines (in Romance)
By N.R. Lines
We have a problem in the romance genre. It’s been a problem for as long as I’ve been reading romance back in1981, and likely much longer than that. It’s a problem that impacts many women , whether they know it or not. And few people seem to be talking about it. The problem: Romancelandia lacks fat heroines. Or at least fat heroines who are written well.
I have divided the fat heroines I’ve seen in romance novels into the following categories:
- The Fake Fat Heroine
- The Confident Curvy Girl
- The Full Figured Fat Heroine
There are three types of Fake Fat Heroines. First is the heroine who the author is authentically trying to write as fat, but uses descriptors that could never apply to a fat heroine. For example, a truly fat, or even curvy girl will never be described as having jutting hipbones. A partner would never loving run their hands down the fat heroine’s ribs and feel the outline of her rib bones. These Fake Fat Heroines make me shake my head and laugh at the absurdity of it all. To fix this we need to be better at describing a fat heroine in a manner that is both realistic and affirming. We can do this, I know we can!
The second type of Fake Fat Heroine is the heroine who describes herself as fat because she is insecure about an aspect of her body. Fat or slender, we’ve all been there. But what if we stopped doing that? What if instead of making your heroine feel and see fat when she thinks about those insecurities we give her an insecurity that she overcomes. Pick one thing about herself, not her entire body. I get it, fat is that ubiquitous descriptor that is used to describe a woman who doesn’t feel right about her body. I’m in no way minimizing the issues we have as women, but as romance writers, perhaps we can do better and can find other ways to describe these insecurities. And we can write the stories where these insecurities are overcome in positive ways that don’t inadvertently put us fat girls down.
The final type of Fake Fat Heroine is more damaging. This is the heroine an author presents as a woman who believes she is fat, who sees a big girl when she looks in the mirror, but as we get into the story we come to realize the heroine isn’t a plus sized gal at all. Maybe the heroine has been called fat by family and friends because she’s a size eight instead of a size two. Maybe she was fat at a different point in her life, but has been at a lower weight for some time and is suffering from body dysmorphia. Maybe she is a trans woman who has some dissonance between how she feels in her skin and what she sees in the mirror. All we get from the heroine’s inner dialogue, and maybe dialogue with her evil family and friends, is that she is fat. Continue reading