I absolutely love that diversity is growing more popular in YA fiction.
We’re slowly fading away from the days where the bookshelves exclusively offered white, able-bodied protagonists. While no doubt these types of heroes will never completely faded away (and they shouldn’t, as I staunchly believe everyone deserves representation), authors are really taking notice of what readers are demanding. That is to say: characters are that PoC, LGBT+, have disabilities or sickness. These types of characters are on the upswing in YA literature and it’s really making a difference in spreading positive stories about people who might be different than ourselves.
But something I’ve noticed? Where are all the chubby characters?
What’s most interesting to me, is that chubby people don’t belong to just one type of people. They aren’t constrained my skin color or religion or wealth. They run the gamut and are literally in every type of social class and clique you could possibly think of. So why such a lacking?
I wish I could answer that. Sadly, I can only assume that the reason it’s so difficult to find these types of leads is they are one of the last group of people that is still okay to discriminate against. The very few novels I’ve picked up featuring pudgier protagonists almost always center around weight, size or food, and these protagonists are almost exclusively girls or women. Aren’t we sick of this yet? Just like not every LGBT+ book should be about coming out, wouldn’t it be nice if every book about a fat character didn’t focus on the “struggles” of weight loss or size acceptance?
So to the question, should we be writing more chubby characters? My answer is a resounding YES. Now let me tell you why.
1. They’re adorable
Round cheeks and arms made for hugging? What’s not to love! Let’s face it, chubby characters are usually just plain cute! Why would you not want to write about someone you constantly want to cuddle? I do. You should too. Let’s write them together!
2. They bring a unique perspective
I know I said that I’m sick of reading about books where the chubby heroes story is ABOUT their being chubby. I want more chubby gladiators and dashing princes. But, it’s important to realize that in most scenarios, being bigger than everyone else will effect the character one way or another. These might be either good or bad, but either way they’re going to go into the unique make-up of who your character is. So take these experiences into account. Think about how they color your characters’ world view and sense of self. They more than likely will be different than a thin characters, and that’s something you, as a writer, can use to your advantage.
3. Chubby people deserve representation too
Plain and simple, if everyone deserves representation, then EVERYONE deserves representation. Society likes to view being chubby as some sort of inherent personality flaw, when that simply isn’t true. But even if it was, so what? Characters aren’t meant to be perfect. People love it when characters make mistakes or say the wrong thing-that’s how they grow and learn. So give chubby characters the same sort of forgiveness and understanding. They aren’t doing anything wrong by simply existing.
4. They’re distinct
Let’s be honest, every writer wants their writing to stand on its own and not blend in with the crowd. So it boggles my mind that larger characters aren’t utilized more as protagonists because there are so few! When a hero is chubby or doesn’t sport a six-pack, people take notice. Let’s start using that attention for GOOD and turn the tables on what people expect. You’ve already got the audiences attention, why not run with it?
5. It challenges the writer to stretch their writing muscles
As writers we can’t stay stagnant. Writing, like any art, is always growing and we’re always challenging ourselves to be better and improve at our craft. We join writing contests and use prompts to help us expand our mind, so if you’ve never written a heavier character before, why not try it now? As I’ve mentioned before, chubby characters bring about their own unique experiences and histories related to their size, why not dig a bit deeper and write a character that reflects that?
6. They’re sexy as all get out
If you think chubby people can’t be attractive, then I’ll show you to the door. Point is, chubby people are fabulous! Perhaps the one element I see most writers shying away from when writing chubby characters is romance. Chubby characters don’t have to lose weight to be desirable. Should I say that again? CHUBBY CHARACTERS DON’T HAVE TO LOSE WEIGHT TO BE DESIRABLE. Are we all on the same page now? Good.
7. They are just as diverse as thin characters
I suppose what it all boils down to, is that chubby characters can do anything a thin character can. They are not a monolith, they are individuals and need to start being represented that way. Let’s take out of the roles of villains and supporting roles and give them the opportunity to shine. If you’re going to try to convince me that a chubby character can’t slay dragons or run marathons or be an assassin, I call bullhonky. Chubby characters can do anything. They can be captains and scientists, they can be princesses and love interests. They can be whatever we want them to be, so let’s give them that chance.
Do you have any chubby characters in your novels? Are they ever the hero or protagonist? Tell me about them!!