I read a book recently that is both wildly popular and fat positive: The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency. I wrote about it in my book blog:
The heroine (Mma Ramotswe I think is the spelling) is one of the best characters ever, seriously. How much do I love her? And sure, I’m biased because she’s fat and proud of being a “traditional African lady” and all the men in the novel are in love with her.
Yes, the character is fat and it’s mentioned frequently and in a positive way. Interestingly, the character is Botswanan. (Is that a word?) So there’s a cultural element as well: thinness is spoken of as a modern trend in opposition to the traditional, curvier African woman’s body. And Mma Ramotswe is, as I mentioned above, definitely depicted as a sexy character. As part of one of her cases, she effortlessly seduces someone. So: seductive and fat and delightful. What’s not to like?
They are also turning the first book (there are eight in the series, I think) into a movie. I clicked on the link with fear: would Mma Ramotswe be played by a “Hollywood fat” woman like, say Regina King? (Who would do a great job, but still: not fat.) Would it be Halle Berry in a fat suit? Luckily, Jill Scott has been cast (there’s a photo of her in costume at that link):
Film sleuths usually exude chiseled sexiness and a noir persona. But as McCall Smith puts it, Precious Ramotswe is “the fat lady detective”: rounded, not chiseled; softhearted, not dark. Would anyone watch a film about a “traditionally built” shamus whose main preoccupation is contemplating her cases under an acacia tree?…
Ramotswe is a refreshingly new character, said Jill Scott, the Philadelphia-born R&B singer and poet who plays the lead role, and who put on weight for the part… [director Anthony] Minghella said the notion that an overweight lady detective would play well on film seemed unlikely.
Hopefully this intrigues you. If you haven’t read the book, it is charming and I highly recommend it. If you have, let me know if you were struck, as I was, with the positive portrayal of Mma Ramotswe. It’s the Big Fat Book Club! Go read it and come back and tell us about it.
Posted by mo pie