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Friday, June 18, 2010

My Thoughts on Size in YA

Warning: I'm expressing some pretty strong opinions here, so if that's not your thing you might want to skip this post.

Also, sorry if this makes no sense whatsoever, I tried!

Okay, how many of you can think of a book that you've read with a main character who's considered plus sized? I'm sure that you can think of more than one. Now tell me this, how many of those books had a main theme that had to do with the MC being plus sized? Probably most of them.

How many books have you read with an MC who's somewhere between 5'3" and 5'6" with a slight build who's been told that she's pretty but doesn't see it? Most likely most of them. I've read so many that unless I'm told otherwise that's how I picture a character. And that's sad. Not that there's anything wrong with people who look like that, just that there are so many in YA.

Let me tell you about me. I'm 5'9, a size 12, have a butt that can only be described as bootylicious, and I love my body. I'm not trying to lose weight, I work out and try to eat right to be healthy, but I don't go on fad diets, my life doesn't revolve around my weight, and it's not any different than my size two friends life.

Now tell me this, why aren't there more girls like me in YA? Why are they all cookie cutter? Or trying to lose weight? Or hate their bodies? I know for a fact that not all YA authors fit the usual description, and I hope that most of them don't hate their bodies, so why do their characters? I'm definitely not saying that anyone with a slight build is any less normal than anyone larger or vice versa, I'm just saying that I wish that there were more shapes and sizes in YA than there are. 

It would be nice to read about a MC who's taller than most of the boys in her class, or maybe one who's really short. Someone with normal body issues, who has curves, or has some tummy flab that they can't get rid of, or wears a large in shirt sizes for pete's sake.

Basically I wish that I could read a book with someone that I could relate to more, who may be a size 14 but that has next to nothing to do with the story line. Is it really too much to ask?

Now I know that you have opinions, so let me know! Whether you agree, disagree, want to prove me wrong, want to prove me right, whatever, I just want to know your thoughts!


  1. I've got to agree, it does sometimes bug me to always see the same type of girls in YA (and even when we do see some more fuller figured girls, that seems to be the main plot point like you said). Hopefully someday YA girls will finally reflect a variety of realistic young women

  2. I found you through the blog hop. I am having a beach bag giveaway package. I hope you stop by and enter.
    Kelly Bookend Diaries

  3. Interesting thoughts! It's not very often that we get to read about a character who is actually happy with their body. I'd love to see more of that!

  4. You are so right!
    People come in all shapes and sizes, so why are all (a lot) of YA books all the same? o_o
    Anyway, you should most definitely be proud of your body! I wish I was as tall as you! But then, I'm perfectly content with my "petite" frame as well. Basically, I'm short. But I don't mind it... :)
    Love, Hannah

  5. Yes! I made a super similar comment a little while ago on a blog. I too dislike that if a character is plus-sized or just heavier, that it's the main focus of the majority of the story/plot.

  6. I have to agree, but I am afraid it doesn't really change much when you get to adult fiction either. Probably the same reason most female characters in movies are skinny too. I have watched movies where the heavy set man gets the skinny girl but not the heavy set lady get the skinny guy..just doesn't happen much.

    I reviewed a ARC of a book called Plus its about a girl who was skinny but after her boyfriend broke up with her she gained a few pounds and was discovered by a lady to be a plus size model. It deals with a lot of the skinny/fat issues and liking yourself at the size you are..wasn't a bad book. I thought it was different because it was about being plus size (even if that means a 12)

  7. When I was a teenager I don't think I read any books about a teen that didn't have a perfect body, so it might be annoying that the books that have plus sized mc's focus on their size, but at least things are moving slightly away from only perfect mcs.
    I found you on the hop and will be adding you to my blog roll.
    Come and visit me:

  8. I agree, seems most books are about skinny girls. Though I do see a lot with tall girls. That seems to be the second favorite.

    It would be nice to see real regular sized people more.

  9. Hi there. Just hopping by from crazy 4 books hop!
    I'd love to have you stop by my new-ish book review blog!

  10. I've got to also agree. I've been in this mood where I am like I wish I was the main character or that would happen to me, but then like, I am not small like the character so it would never happen. Authors are sending the wrong message to teens just like any other place in the media, making people with curbs look like they eat a lot and don't exercise or are just plain ugly.

    I like my curves and I don't diet I eat right and exercise. I like who I am(not to say I wouldn't mind being a size 2 life would be so much more carefree.

    Loved this post! Thanks Taylor for touching an issue people are afraid to!

  11. Loved this post! I had never thought of it before, but you're right- most books with plus-size characters do focus on their weight! Why can't the MC be confident???
    What really gets me is that these characters have so many other things going for them, but their weight overshadows these other characteristics.
    I will say I appreciated Carolyn Mackler's "Tangled" though. While the main character focused a little on her weight, that wasn't the main focus. Plus, the supporting characters didn't even mention her weight. Mackler sent a pretty good (though subtle) message that weight isn't everything. Definitely recommend
    Found your blog through the hop! Love the name- I'm a 'lurker' too!

  12. Great post! I've also been frustrated at times. It seems like if a MC is plus-size, then that's somehow a major theme in the book. But if a MC is small and pretty, it's not. I'd like more plus-size MCs, where the plot has nothing to do with looks. I'm not a small person, so maybe that has something to do with my attitude about this subject.... :)

  13. I don't know. I don't recall reading many books where the character's size was mentioned. I think a lot of what we "read" has to do with our own assumptions. If we imagine the character as having a perfect body (when, in fact, her body hasn't been described at all), that's more our fault than it is the author's.

  14. You should read Guardian of the Dead by Karen Healey. The MC's very different from the usual ones.


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