It’s Women’s History Month and we are looking forward to all the events and books that celebrate the impact that women have on the world. In addition to bringing you the latest pop culture news and reviews where women are the focus, this month, we are also going to share with you some of the best BookTrib articles of the past that celebrate women and diversity. Today, we feature this piece from June 17th, 2015 about fictional heroines that actually look like real women.
Fictional Heroines Who Look Like Real Women
There is often an assumption while reading that the main characters are going to be thin. Unless otherwise stated, the reader is expected to picture a woman with slim legs, a man with a muscular frame. There might even be a chance that the female character will be “curvy”—which usually boils down to a large chest attached to a small waist.
But when you don’t grow up as a size 2, you’re left to wonder why you can’t find any characters who reflect what you see in the mirror. Not everyone is naturally thin, just like not everyone is Caucasian or of Western European descent. So when we talk about needing diverse books, we’re not just talking about representing other cultures or more non-white characters—we’re also talking about diversity in size.
Which is why we’re so excited about two new buzzed-about books this year. One is Dietland by Sarai Walkeri (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015). It tells the story of Plum Kettle, a woman’s magazine advice columnist contemplating weight-loss surgery until she meets a community of women who challenge her to see her body in a new light.
Another is Dumplin’ (Balzer + Bray, 2015) by Julie Murphy. It’s a young adult novel about Willowdeen Dickson, the overweight daughter of a former beauty queen who decides to enter the Miss Clover City pageant after falling for her hot new coworker.
Both novels are confronting body stereotypes by having heroines who refuse to apologize for their size. There are no slim-downs in these books, no exercise-montages or forced realizations. These are characters who embrace the word “fat” and recognize that it’s the world’s perception that needs to change, not theirs.
So in honor of these two body-positive novels, here are three of our favorite books starring plus size heroines:
Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie
There are few contemporary romances better than Bet Me. Funny, witty and addicting, Crusie’s novel tells the story of Minerva Dobbs, an overweight actuary who’s always trying to lose 20 pounds at the urging of her slim mother.
When Min gets dumped and then overhears the crazy hot Calvin Morissey make a bet about sleeping with her, she throws caution to the wind and goes out to dinner with him. After that, Cal and Min vow to stay away from each other—though the universe (and their insane chemistry) have other plans. Min is the best: funny, smart, sarcastic. And it’s through Cal’s urging and support that she finally starts to appreciate and embrace her curvy frame.
Size 12 is Not Fat by Meg Cabot
The first book in Meg Cabot’s Heather Wells mystery series, Size 12 is Not Fat is hilarious, smart, and hard to put down. Heather Wells is a former pop star who immediately gained weight when she stepped out of the limelight.
Now she’s an assistant dorm director in New York City, busy solving crimes and falling for her hunky PI landlord. A disarmingly refreshing heroine, Heather is completely happy with her new size, choosing instead to make the most of life, love, and food.
The Bride and the Beast by Teresa Medeiros
We won’t pretend that this historical romance novel isn’t problematic – Gwendolyn is the only virgin left in her 1700’s Scottish village and ends up offered as a sacrifice to the “Dragon” who lives in a nearby castle. Of course, she falls in love with him. Female sacrifice aside, Gwen is a bright and funny heroine, who also happens to be a bit bigger than your typical romance-novel protagonist.
Long time lovers of historical romance can tell you just how rare it is to find a heroine who isn’t uncommonly beautiful (and somehow also the only person in the Middle Ages who adores bathing). Plump, witty Gwen is a delight, and her “Beast” falls hard from the start.
A new fictional heroine we love is the character of Kate Pearson on NBC’s This Is Us. Chrissy Metz plays this dynamic character who has quickly become a fan fav! Metz makes her debut as an author with her book, This Is Me: Loving the Person You Are Today (Release date: March 27, 2018, Harper-Collins). Check out our review of This is Me next week on BookTrib.