For years, women have been becoming more accepting of their bodies, but it is still something that some of us need to work on, including myself. It is hard to love yourself, with the literature and media that surrounds you with size zero ladies in swimsuits. To combat this imagery that seems to follow us, we can choose to pick up books and magazines that specifically don’t show tiny models. This summer, I only want to read books with amazing, plus-sized heroines! Bonus: by supporting authors who write about plus-sized women and girls, we support the ‘all bodies are beautiful‘ movement!
Dumplin’ (and the sequel, Puddin’) by Julie Murphy
The first book I recommend is Dumplin’ (and the sequel, Puddin’) by Julie Murphy. These books center around a small town that holds a beauty contest every year and our main character, who is, of course, plus-sized. When she decides to enter the competition–which has, by the way–an unspoken rule prohibiting ‘fat’ girls, the town is turned upside down. Although already confident, she learns to be more so. She already loves her body, she will rock anything from a plus size casual summer dresses to a swimsuit. Still, she becomes more and more confident throughout the book. This book is especially amazing because the arc isn’t about the character development of the main character. Although she has some quick lessons about acceptance and love, for the most part, she already knows how to love herself and so the book doesn’t center around that. It takes bodily acceptance as a given, not a struggle. It changes the mindset from ‘I should accept my body’ to ‘yeah, of course, I accept myself, I’m beautiful;’ this is a great mindset to have and changed my outlook.
Faith by Jody Housler
The second book is actually the first book of a series, but not just any series. It is Faith by Jody Houser. This book kicks off a comic book series, and just like the comic books of old, they feature a superhero. Unlike the comics of old, this superhero is a plus-sized woman. For any girl who grew up obsessed with superheroes but dejected that none of them looked like her, this series is for you. It features Faith Herbert, your average Clark Kent journalist by day, but a telekinetic superhero clothed in a blue and white jumpsuit by night. This book is fantastic because it doesn’t focus on her being overweight–who cares how much she weighs when she just saved the world? It gives plus-sized girls and women a platform, and it doesn’t make her a hero just for being fat. It’s not a cash grab, and it doesn’t take advantage of the movement for sales! It makes her a hero for saving the world; she just happens to represent plus-sized women and girls everywhere.
Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
This is an old book, but a good one. It features two teenage characters, a boy and a girl, who are both misfits at their school. As the two characters slowly connect, they find themselves through each other and eventually come to accept themselves how they are: misfits, loners, and outcasts. With that description of the plot, you would hardly guess that Eleanor was overweight, which is exactly what is great about this YA novel. It doesn’t add anything or take anything away that Eleanor is overweight. She learns to accept that ‘flaw,’ as she sees it, just as she learns to accept everything else. This happens so rarely–usually, when a character is fat, that’s all she is. The reader meets Eleanor and gets to know her, and while you are aware that she is plus-sized, that doesn’t matter in the end. She is no different from anyone else. That mindset can help many young women who are struggling with their weight learn to accept themselves, too.
There are plenty more books featuring beautiful plus-sized women you can read, and there is more every year. As the movement towards global acceptance and love towards all bodies grows, more and more heroines that we love become plus-sized. Want to add to this movement? All you need to do is support the authors that write these stories. Just by buying or renting and reading, you show the world that plus-sized bodies matter. They matter enough to read about. They matter enough to show up in magazines, in the movies. They matter.