The good news: there’s been more young adult fiction lately featuring fat teenage protagonists. The bad news: the covers of the books don’t actually show any fat teens. This post at Stacked offers a nice string of examples showing body parts instead of girls, pictures of food instead of girls, and girls who are supposedly “plus sized” but are in fact not plus sized at all.
I’m sure you can’t forget the Liar controversy, where the cover featured a white girl when the main character was clearly not white. Why is it we put thin on the cover when the character isn’t (and in some cases is JUST ALRIGHT WITH THAT?).
So I want you to tell me: why can’t we do this? Can you find me a cover with a fat girl who is — how do I say this — a normal, every day person? We know our world isn’t full of perfect bodies and we know we want people to come to love who they are, but if we can’t see it in the world (especially in books that are meant to highlight these said issues) how can we make people believe they are ok?
The comments are good too; Amanda brings up a related point right off the bat:
I think there’s a tendency in general to show only pieces of women on book covers. It’s true there are books with whole thin women on the covers, but in general most covers are pieces of women. I think it’s odd because it objectifies women and has us seeing them as it. “IT’s a butt.” Not “oh there’s a woman with a big round butt.”
It’s true; it’s like a variation on the headless fatty. I guess because body parts are less specific than a specific person? Also chicklit often = a pair of shoes on the cover. Because GIRLS LIKE SHOES.
I’m actually writing a YA novel with a plus sized protagonist right now, which makes this issue even more complex for me. I understand that many teen girls who think they’re “fat” and relate to the world like they’re “fat” are actually pretty average looking or what most would call “chubby”; that was certainly true for me. By avoiding putting a specific person on the cover, that does eliminate the compare-and-contrast problem–“I can’t relate to her, she’s not even fat!”
When my book is inevitably published in mass market paperback (just throwing that out there, universe), I’m not sure I’d want to have my main character on the cover, now that I think of it; I don’t usually like covers with people on them because it gets in the way of my ability to imagine the characters. Maybe I will select (with all my power that I will have as a bestselling young adult author, right, universe?) something else emblematic of my story, more universal.
Certainly not, however, an Oreo cookie.
Thanks to Wendy for the link!
Posted by mo pie