Body Image in Books

Posted April 23, 2017 | 36 Comments

Okay, I need to discuss rant about something that’s really bothering me lately.

It’s wonderful that there continues to be an increase of diversity in books, whether it’s ethnicity, sexuality, mental disorders, etc. I’m also extremely happy that body image is being tackled more often, especially in YA. We’re seeing more young woman who are on the bigger, curvier side, and that’s fantastic! Young women need more diverse body shapes they can identify with shown in a positive way.

The thing is … I drives me mad when authors feel the need to put down other body types when talking about their bigger characters. I get that they’re trying to show heavier characters in a positive way, but why put down thin girls and woman in the process? Especially when they attribute the “a real woman is” or  “a real woman has” label to certain body types. I cringe when I see this in general, but even more so when it’s in YA books.

Here’s an idea, don’t shame and make certain girls feel less than, period. Stop fucking comparing and making one better than the other. It becomes counterproductive on the whole positive body image message. Authors, you can easily talk positively about a characters weight and body type without shitting on others.

Bigger isn’t better. Skinny isn’t better. A persons size doesn’t make them a ‘real woman’, so knock that shit off.

Rant over.


36 responses to “Body Image in Books

  1. YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!! I couldn’t agree with you more! What makes it even worse is when an author has the male lead agreeing with this perception. We all know that a good number of women has low self esteem because of what someone with a penis said about them or to them so why have the male lead or his friends put down one body type or another?!

  2. YESSSSS! I can bring several books to mind that have done this, especially when the heroine is full figured and the skinny girls are bashed. Embrace who you are! You see all types of females bashing themselves and those who are different. Female authors especially should try to break away from this. I do love that we are getting diversity. I did see a reviewer claim a book wasn’t realistic because the full figure female didn’t seem realistic because she was confident in her body and sexuality. This problem goes way beyond books.

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  3. I haven’t read any books that do the reverse body-shaming in particular, but I do remember a book I picked up from Amazon that I was really interested in reading and the first few pages were literally going on and on about the character’s size. I think it was supposed to be different and more aware and positive, but it most definitely was not. That was all that the author could focus on, so I had to quit reading it.

  4. I have an issue with this in adult books because they talk about bigger women but these women don’t like the body they are in and end up trying “diets” like eating only salad. Newsflash, id don’t work like that.
    I guess I kind of prefer if the woman had curves and not be described as big or small and sure as hell not have to think about her body weight the ENTIRE damn time

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  5. Oh my FUCKING God! YES!!! Why is it somehow OK to dump all the crap on the skinny women? And why do some people think that the only way to lift themselves up is by pushing someone else down?
    I do enjoy stories where the female character isn’t model beautiful, and that sure includes the skinny part… However, the body isn’t who the character is! And sometimes, I wonder if we even actually need as much description of the characters as we get in some books… When I think of my friends, I never think ‘oh, the skinny one, or the sporty one, or the curvy one, or the tall one’… Because they are so much more than their looks, you know?
    Great rant, Christy! You know how to do them 😉

  6. Oh my goodness yes! I love empowerment for women with all body types but couldn’t agree more. Why do we need to place labels on a certain body type because what IS a real woman? It still places women and bodies that identify as women in boxes. It’s wonderful to see larger girls represented in fiction and in especially young adult, but there are many varied body types. Identifying as female with athletic bodies, muscular bodies, who are short, tall and in between. Who are petite, girls with abilities and disabilities, girls with amputations and girls who love their bodies. With a media so hell bent on telling us how to dress and how our bodies should look, we need empowerment for all women, who identify as women. This is so much yes Christy <3 <3 <3

  7. I agree 100%. Just because someone is skinny, doesn’t mean that they aren’t healthy or are starving themselves to get there. I know skinny people who eat more junk than me. I think that a person’s weight is between them and maybe their doctor (if there is something unhealthy that needs to be addressed. For example, I’m overweight and it is affecting my liver, so my doctor has told me I have to lose weight, period. He would like to see me lose between 20-30 pounds).

    I don’t know why women feel that they must shame other women to make themselves feel better. It isn’t just body shape. Clothing, makeup, hair, personality, etc. I’ve seen it all shamed, especially in the workplace (or school for kids and college students).

  8. liz

    I agree. But I find myself avoiding books if I can tell that the body size is a huge issue one way or another in the story. Frankly, it almost never matters to the point of the story, so when an author harps on it over and over, I just get irritated. I get they want their character to be seen a certain way, but after a while it becomes a dead horse. I much rather when I am able to create most of that in my head.

  9. Loved this post Christy! Often you see that when we try to improve as a society we bounced back and forth a bunch of times before we find a good balance. So when trying to encourage or defend one side of a spectrum it’s usually done on the expense of the other! And what drives me crazy is that it’s is indeed often girls and women the object of all this shaming!

  10. What a great post, and I couldn’t agree more. I hate the whole ‘real women have curves’ campaign. So then, what? Are the rest of them blow up dolls? Why, when we are trying to make one group of people feel better, do we have to shift the shame? It’s infuriating. We women are all in this together, and we should be building each other up, not knocking each other down.

  11. I could not agree more. Why put down others to make the point that curves are fine? We do not need one with the other. Curves are awesome. Thin is awesome. Everything is awesome. Except webbed toes. *shivers* Those just aren’t right. (Totally kidding, 🙂 my friend has webbed toes. )

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