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Monica’s got an interesting column up on RTB this morning. She wants to know why fat authors don’t have more heroine’s who are fat too.

She writes:

“A perusal of more than a few romance author cover photos will tell you that plenty of fat chicks write romance. A stroll down the romance aisle of any Wal-Mart will show you that lots of fat chicks read romance. Drop into any romance convention and you’ll see fat chicks galore. Think all New York editors are starved-looking, gaunt creatures? I won’t name names, but think again.
So why the heck don’t we have more fat chicks as romance heroines?”

She has a point don’t you think?

I can honestly say that I really enjoy romance books that have heroines who aren’t reed thin. I think I like the idea that a really hot guy is able to find a fat chick sexy, and not in a fetish kind of way either.

Monica goes on to add:

“What about all the fat chicks? Go to the romance section, close your eyes, pick a book, any book. Open it. Is the heroine a fat chick? Rinse and repeat. Are any of the romance heroines honest-to-goodness fat chicks?

I bet you ten bucks that they aren’t. But fat chicks seem to have plenty of romance. Heaven knows nature doesn’t stint on those fat genes. Fat chicks are walking around with babies, arm in arm with men, obviously loving and making love.”

Once again, she makes perfect sense.

I know that I dissed Ryhannon Byrd for writing a sex scene that lasted for 200 pages, but one thing I did like about Triple Play was that the heroine was a rubenesque gal, and the heroes thought she was sexy as hell.

One thing I do hate is when the author makes the story all about the weight. It is possible to be fat and not be all angsty about it… isn’t it?

I don’t particularly want to read about the issues the heroine has about her weight, I can read chicklit for weight-based angst thanks very much.

I’m one of those readers who don’t like issues about weight or colour to get in the way of a good romance. I can’t be arsed working through self esteem issues, which is generally why I prefer my heroines to be kick-ass and confident.

Category romance books are definitely the worse offenders, all their cover models are skankily thin to reflect the heroines. When was the last time you read about the Billionaire Sheik’s Virgin’s Secret Baby being a fat chick? It just doesn’t happen that often.

I do recall reading a Harlequin book where the heroine was “large boned”, but the front cover was graced by an anorexic model who could have done with having a cornish pastie or ten.

I guess it’s all about marketing huh?

I read somewhere that books with big gals on the front of them don’t sell as well. Apparently this messes with the fantasy. Why?

I have to applaud EC because they along with certain other erotic romance publishers are one of the only places where you can go and find big heroines. As far as I can gather, these sell pretty well too. Please correct me if I’m wrong.

Monica’s question as to why can’t fat authors write more books about fat heroines is a valid one in my opinion. I see those back cover photo’s guys, I know that a lot of our beloved romance writers are hardly size 6 prototypes, yet their heroines are usually visually perfect, with flat, toned stomachs, and perfectly rounded breasts.

I don’t consider myself overly weighty, and I enjoy books where the heroine is on the large side (as long as she doesn’t bitch and moan about it anyway) so I always assume that most people would feel the same way as I do… Don’t they?

I truly wonder if my attitude would be different if I was fat myself?

So Monica asks these very pertinent questions:

“Do you want to read more books with fat heroines? Why or why not?

Do you think fat authors should be writing about fat people also, not just non-fat ones?

Do you think we avoid reading about fat people because so many of us are fat ourselves and don’t like it? Do you think it’s possible to be fat, healthy, happy and in love or is that unrealistic?”

So, waddaya all think? Does she have a point or what?


  • Ann Wesley Hardin
    March 20
    3:04 pm

    Karen, Monica definitely has a point. I think the great chasm here is that romance is a genre written by women for women. Thinness is a woman’s issue. Blame it on the media, or on fashion mags, but it’s still a women’s issue.

    For the last 25 years I’ve worked and played in male-dominated professions and sports and I can tell you with complete assurance that a man’s view of a woman’s weight is completely different from a woman’s view of a woman’s weight.

    The vast majority of men like women who look like women. Plain and simple. This means booty and breasts and a soft stomach.

    I can’t tell you how many times I was warned that I was getting too thin.

    And even if a man says he prefers looking at a thin woman, get him into the bedroom and I can guarantee you he wants to touch a fleshy one.

    So, really, women need to catch up, or get a clue, or make friends with more men to get an honest answer, or whatever. Believe me, it’ll make a difference in the way you view yourself! Men want fun women! They really, really don’t equate thin with fun!

    But the bottom line is that as long as women have this insane beauty ideal, thin heroines will be the main course. Because in the end, we’re writing our books for female readers.

    I do think that’s changing, though. There are alot of female authors writing larger heroines.

    I know this is a long post, but I’d pound it into women’s heads if I could. After two-and-a-half decades immersed in a man’s world, I know men. They’re so much more accepting than we’re lead to believe by the media! And they want the softness of a real woman.

    Okay. I’ll shut up now.


  • byrdloves2read
    March 20
    3:06 pm

    I don’t know if I want to hear the heroine called fat. Interestingly, I’ve read a couple of books lately where the hero refers to the heroine as well-rounded or soft or something like broad where a broad should be broad. 🙂 It’s comforting and I can relate. Doesn’t that sound like a good thing?


  • Anonymous
    March 20
    3:31 pm

    I’m a plus size woman and I do have weight issues so I’m not interested in reading about an overweight woman in my romance novel. I realise that it’s probably a little myopic, but I honestly don’t think it’s realistic that Mr Devastatingly Handsome and Macho will fall in love with a 200 lbs heifer.


    Just my two cents.


  • Lori
    March 20
    4:46 pm

    I definitely think it’s nice to read about women who look like me still getting the amzingly studly guy. When you are 5’4″ on a high hair day and have thighs that could be mistaken for tree trunks – short tree trunks, mind you, not tree trunks that go up to here – you start to get a complex and wonder about all those women who do have the legs up to here.

    But ultimately, I like to read about women who are content with who they are, whether they have stretch marks (thank you Sarah!) or a belly, or tree trunk thighs or whatever… as long as they are comfortable with themselves and confident, that comes across and it comes across as sexy to the men in their stories.


  • Nicole
    March 20
    4:59 pm

    “I honestly don’t think it’s realistic that Mr Devastatingly Handsome and Macho will fall in love with a 200 lbs heifer.”

    Now this I disagree with. That’s sorta going with the stereotype that mr. devastatingly handsome is shallow.

    Having been around 200 lbs (and I never thought I was a heifer) when I met my husband, I enjoy reading about larger women finding love. It IS possible. I’ve also seen the same thing with a friend of mine. She was overweight and is with one of the most fit guys I know.

    I guess I can see where some people don’t like it, but saying that it isn’t realistic is a bit of a stretch.

    I like where the hero loves the heroine for who she is, not whether she’s a size 18 or a size 2. And love is blind.

    Eh…I think I could go on and on about this subject. It’s one of my favorite topics.


  • Jennifer Aniston
    March 20
    5:19 pm

    Anonymous, you are obviouly entitled to your own views, but you are right when you call yourself myopic.

    There are great examples everywhere, of overweight women who have found love, and are happy with who they are.

    I personally want a heroine that I can relate to, and I agree with KarenS, I like believing that a great looking guy is able to see beyond the layers of fat, and find happiness with a woman regardless of her weight.

    What I want is variety, I don’t want every heroine to be thin, but neither do I want every heroine to be big.

    This is only an issue because many NY pubs think, wrongly in my opinion, that books with plus size heroines won’t sell.

    I predict that it’ll be the next big thing after the erotic romance explosion. (Or at least I hope so, lol!)


  • Anonymous
    March 20
    5:43 pm

    Ann said
    The vast majority of men like women who look like women. Plain and simple. This means booty and breasts and a soft stomach.

    Amen to that. I’ve been married to my guy for over 15 years and I know for sure that he prefers my love handles to a bony rib anyday.

    I watched a program recently that discussed the phenomena of big butts and how Hollywood seems to be going wild for the more curvaceous body. Stick-like models may be ok for the fashion world, but they aren’t the ideal for your average joe.

    Men may fantasize about the size 6 girl, but they usually prefer good sized boobs and butt.


  • Sarah McCarty
    March 20
    6:16 pm

    I dont’ think that it’s an issue of whether NY thinks the books will sell so much is whether they will sell ENOUGH. Fortunately, small presses and e publishers don’t need the massive sell through to break even on a book that NY publsihers do, so they are able to “take more chances” with plots and offer readers a wider variety of storylines.

    Personally, it doesn’t matter to me what the heroine looks like. I just need to be able to relate to her situation and I’m content.


  • Maura
    March 20
    7:23 pm

    Hmmm – I’m comfortable with heroines of just about any size as long as the author doesn’t go on and on about it.

    I don’t like mentions every 3 pages of either how fat or skinny she is. Same with what race they are. I want them to be PEOPLE and those parts of their self are low on my list to hear about after the first mention or two.

    I don’t tend to write very skinny heroines because I don’t like them. C equates it to trying to hug a bunch of sticks. 🙂

    I am fat and working on losing weight because I think it will be good for my health and I’d like to get back into the sexy clothes I used to wear. But it’s because *I* like how I feel at a reasonable weight. I do NOT need to be scrawny though – just a nice average size.


  • Kristie (J)
    March 20
    11:57 pm

    I don’t dare go over to Monica’s blog. How incredibly insulting she is sounding – disgustingly so and she falls exactly into the hidden prejudice against larger size people. Smoke is coming out of my ears just reading some of the ways she is explaining things. The hypocrisy she is showing considering all the rants she has done – and I always thought she had many a good point too!
    FWIW – I have no desire to read about larger sized heroines. I read with a great deal of trepidation He Loves Lucy by Susan Donovan because I loved her earlier books. I hated it!
    I’m larger sized myself and I read romance to escape some of the day to day things. Why would I want to read something that brings it smack back in my face?


  • Monica
    March 21
    2:39 am

    Kristie, one could always use euphemisms to soothe delicate sensibilities, such as dewy grotto of love or thrusting sword of passion but you’re quite right, I’ve never bothered to do so.

    I think remaining fat and continuing to hate oneself for it to the degree of avoiding any images that reflect oneself is like a black romance reader with short, kinky hair who refuses to read any romance that features anything but lily-white characters with silken locks!

    How mentioning the scarcity of variety in body sizes in the romance genre is hypocrisy, I don’t know.


  • Sharon J
    March 21
    4:19 am

    I used to be plus sized, now I’m skinny. I was happier with my fat because being thin means painful bones sticking out when I sit down! Gimme my booty back, ma!

    My heroinnes are never thin, but they’re not fat either. They’re normal, healthy sized women. And to be honest, I don’t really think romantic fiction with fat heroines would sell, because whether they admit it or not, most big women have issues with their size and don’t want to read about it.

    But anyway, it’s not really down to the authors, it’s down the publishers, isn’t it? Most authors write what pays the rent.

    ~Sharon J (yet to have a published heroine but she won’t be a stick insect, that’s for sure).


  • Marianne LaCroix
    March 21
    4:44 am

    I’m fat. I write about normal sized women to pleasingly plump. But I don’t use it as a plot device. Why? Why should a woman’s size be a driving force in the book? Kripe, we get that on TV daily. I don’t want a heroine’s size part of a problem through a book. And I bet some other authors do the same. Remember, if it isn’t part of the main plotline (this goes for interracial romances too), the book won’t be classified as “Reubenesque” (or “interracial”). In otherwords the heroine has to toil and trouble over her weight. No thanks. A heroine can be plump, the hero loves it, and then they shag…again…again…again.

    Harlequin is bad about those skinny-ass models on books. I do like the Intrigues most of the time with a creepy house of a shot of a landscape. Works for me.


  • Desiree Erotique
    March 21
    4:45 am

    I think there’s market enough for all types of heroines. And like you say, there seems to be plenty of contented big women out there with an arm of a guy around them and/or babies in their arms. So if you’re large, why not write about large women?


  • Kristie (J)
    March 21
    5:54 am

    Monica: because to say “A stroll down the romance aisle of any Wal-Mart will show you that lots of fat chicks read romance.” is rude and insulting and sterotyping that’s why. The basic premise you have is an excellent one and I anwered why I don’t like them. For every person who feels as I do on the subject, there are those who feel the opposite. But surely you could have avoided using such a nasty way of words to make your point. It brings to mind an ugly picture and you loose the point of what you are trying to say.
    And further, I think one of the reasons you don’t see more plus size women is because there is a bias against them. And I also don’t think there is much of a market for larger sized heroines. Regular women who don’t know what it’s like aren’t going to want to really read them and women who are on the heavier side are probably split. I think Karen states it exactly when she says “’m one of those readers who don’t like issues about weight or colour to get in the way of a good romance. I can’t be arsed working through self esteem issues, which is generally why I prefer my heroines to be kick-ass and confident.”

    There – now I’ve posted twice and neither time did I have to use “fat chick” to get my point across.


  • Dawn
    March 21
    11:18 am

    I enjoy reading about “plus sized” heroines. In fact, one of the best I’ve ever read is Justine Davis’s “A Whole Lot of Love”.


  • Karen Scott
    March 21
    12:32 pm

    AWH, I agree with you totally, although I’m not fat per se, I can still be paranoid about my weight, but the Tall Guy just doesn’t get it. As far as he’s concerned, I’m better off with a bit of meat than being rail thin!

    Linda, I wouldn’t want to see a heroine referred to as fat either, and no author worth their salt would make that mistake, but having read quite a few books from the Rubenesque category at EC, the authors are usually a little bit more imaginative than that. Lush is quite a popular description!

    Sariah, I think you’re wrong actually, sometimes personality goes a long way, and men are able to see beyond weight. I have friends who are overweight, and their guys are hunky as hell!

    Lori, I think you’re right, it is nice to think that a woman can get the guy of her dreams regardless of size and shape!

    Nicole, I disagree with her too actually, I see big girls with good looking men all the time. When I was at school, I had a friend who was big, and to be fair, she had more boyfriends than I did, purely because she was such a great person to be with.

    Hi Jennifer Aniston how are you coping without Brad these days? *g* I think women do want a heroine that they can relate to instead and I guess it shouldn’t really matter what their size is, but it would be nice to see different body sizes!

    Anonymous, all I can say id thank god for Jennifer Lopez, her and her bottom made big butts fashionable in Hollywood!

    Sarah, it seems to me that NY publishers aren’t that keen on taking risks, I truly believe they’d be able to sell the books, but they’ll never know until they try I guess, but they probably need cast iron guarantees first.

    Maura, I don’t think the weight should be used as a main point of angst in a romance, that would just annoy the hell out of me, but as every book does mention the heroine’s features at point or another I think it would be sufficient to give a broad description so that readers would know that she wasn’t matchstick thin.

    Dawn the verifier thingy was pissing me off, so I removed it!


  • Sam
    March 21
    1:12 pm

    No more verifier! Yay! My dyslexia is cheering.
    Why not heroines with dyslexia? I can’t tell my left from my right, and I’d identify with a heroine who gets lost every time she leaves the house.
    Fat, thin, middle-sized – I think there’s room for all sorts of heros and heroines in romance books; but let me just point something out – no one is asking why there are no fat heros. Why should there be fat heroines and not fat heroes? Why is it great when a skinny guy falls for a fat gal? Why can’t a skinny gal fall for a fat guy?
    Women put too much emphasis on looks. There, I said it. Now where’s my dyslexic heroine?


  • Monica
    March 21
    1:44 pm

    Kristie, The fat acceptance movement prefers the usage of “fat” over other descriptive euphemisms and it’s a reflex for me (sort of like black people don’t prefer to be called Negro or colored anymore in most cases).

    Check out NAAFA The National Association for the Acceptance of Fat Americans. They have a web site. You don’t have to be fat to join, and it does help to promote self-esteem and to have a balanced view of fat people.

    The Big Fat Blog also is informative. http://www.bigfatblog.com/


  • Karen Scott
    March 21
    6:35 pm

    Kristie, I guess if you’re reading for total escapism, then you might not want to read a book that has the same angsty issues that you, yourself may go through on a daily basis, but for me personally, I think that as long as the book is written without the “God I’m fat and I hate myself” issues showing up in every other paragraph, then I’m happy.

    Sharon, I think you’re probably right, but I would have thought that it would be comforting for a plus size woman to read about big women in romance. As long as she doesn’t bitch and moan. I like reading about black kick-ass heroines in romance, but give me a black whiny woman, then I get irritated. Size shouldn’t matter, but I think it would be nice to have different body sizes in romance books.

    Marianne, I don’t think it should be used as a plot device either, but it would be great if all the heroines weren’t all thin and perfect.

    Des, I do think that if more authors wrote about bigger women, it wouldn’t even be an issue, but as long as the majority of heroines tick all the skinny boxes when it comes to size, the subject will probably continue to rear it’s ugly head.

    Sam, if more men read romance, then I’d be inclined to agree with you, but the fact is, most romance books are written by women for women, so the fantasy of the perfect man has to stay intact. *G*


  • Loreley
    March 21
    9:51 pm

    Karen, you are just soooooooo right. I don’t mind at all love stories where the heroine is overweight. But I HATE it when the whole plot evolves around it.

    Unfortunately most often at least part of the story is about a woman who has issues with her weight and is insecure.

    I myself have about 20 pounds too much on my hips and I love myself this way and my friend of eight years does too. I honestly don’t like myself without these pounds. Of course my tummy would be flatter but my personality and humor would be – well – flatter too.

    OK, please overlook all my grammatical mistakes, but I just had to throw in my two cents worth *lol*


  • Sharon J
    March 23
    2:15 am

    I can see where you’re coming from, Karen, but I think – although I may be wrong – a lot of big women see ‘big woman’ in the same way as you’d see ‘whining black woman’. Yeah, it’d be good to have a big heroinne who was truly happy with her size and had developed her sexuality around it, or even because of it, but I honestly think the majority of big girls would think “Nah! That ain’t the way it is!”.

    I hate to say this, and I’ll probably get spat at for doing so, but the majority of women simply aren’t emotionally mature enough to see past their own bodies. Think about it. How easy is it to find that kick-ass black woman or sexually confident fat girl? Compare that with the whiney black women and the insecure fat girls. What do you get? If I went into town tomorrow, I know who I’d find more of.

    ~Sharon J


  • Sharon J
    March 23
    2:20 am

    Oh, and before anybody decides to sound off at me for saying “fat women”, it’s no worse than saying “black women”. Fat is the stuff that plus sized people gather in excess beneath their skin. Plain and simple. Just like the pigmentation of black people’s skin is different to that of white people, fat people have more fat beneath their skin than thin people. If those who have that extra layer of fat don’t like it being used descriptively then that’s their problem, not mine!

    Phew! (I’ve had that argument before!).

    ~Sharon (ex fat bird who doesn’t like being skinny!)


  • Jaynie R
    March 23
    7:16 am

    Wowza. Well I’m a fat chick (and yes that’s what I prefer) – in fact I’m even a “two hundred pound heiffer” as the chick above calls us.

    Personally I think my hubby is gorgeous. He certainly isn’t fat or ugly…and I weighed only 5 pounds lighter when we married.

    But I have no interest in reading about a heroine who is 200 pounds. I’m bordering on obese – it’s unhealthy, so I fall into the TSTL category. I’d prefer my heroines to actually understand that being this fat is unhealthy.

    However, I could handle a few more heroines who were 140 to 165 pounds – not skinny little wenches but still healthy.


  • Karen Scott
    March 23
    7:21 am

    Loreley, I totlly agree, if I wanted to read about weight issues I’d read a non-fiction book. I hate whinging and bitching heroines regardless of their fat content or skin tones.

    Sharon, I agree that there probably aren’t as many self confident fat women, but as for the kick-ass black women, I’m surrounded by them in my life. By that same token, some of the most insecure people I ever met were skinny women who constantly worried about their weght. Go figure.

    As for calling women who are overweight fat, it is the correct term, but because so many overweight women have been marginalised by it’s improper use in the past, the more politically correct amongst us do our best to avoid using it. But I agree, fat is fat,


  • Karen Scott
    March 23
    7:30 am

    Hi Jaynie, missed your comment there! I think Monica was saying that it is possible to be weigh 200 lbs and be healthy, this obviously depends on height, build etc, but I do get your point about the healthy thing.

    The only problem is that more often than not, health isn’t the over-riding objective when women go on diets etc, it’s mainly to conform to the media-led propoganda that skinny women are beautiful and fat women are not.


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