Body Image in Fiction: “Body is in the Eye of the Author.”

Bertha comic pane w/Sis in the window
“Big” Bertha

When it comes to body image, do authors write their main characters with figures similar to their own?

Many authors write stories for the same reason readers read them—as a means to escape. So, if you’re large, do you create your hero/heroine with a smaller physique? Do authors automatically—naturally—create their main characters to be everything they (may) wish themselves to be? Do they mix it up a bit?

Or do they simply go by what the story—or market—demands?

As someone who has been large all her life, I don’t ever see myself writing from the viewpoint of a petite woman because I can’t relate, but I can (and have) written secondary characters who are smaller than I am.

In All About Eva, Eva’s best friend Ana-Marie is petite—and so is Eva’s main nemesis. I’m not trying to paint all women who are not plus size as being evil or conceited, but weight and size are major issues in our society.

Curvy Girls & BBWs

Curvy girls and BBWs have appeared in more fiction now than when I first started writing, but are readers really receptive to larger women taking the lead in novels? I don’t suppose the question is considered in male-oriented books, but men are not immune to the pressure to be alpha males: buff, brave, bold . . . and preferably Scottish. Definite eye candy, to be sure.

Don’t you think it ironic how we, as women, have become so fed up with being judged by appearance and objectified—yet the majority of romance novels, which are written and read mostly by women—feature “perfect” male characters and alpha males with 12-pack abs and women who can be lifted and tossed around effortlessly by the man?

“But romance is about escapism, Jayne, not reality.”

Yeah, I get it, but I’m too much of a realist. I love reading about normal people who get caught up in the extraordinary no matter the genre. Call it alternate reality if you want, but fantasy with touches of realism makes it that more plausible, which can be both exciting and scary AF.

All About Eva cover with quote
Eva isn’t “perfect.”

The Perfect Bore

Personally speaking, I get tired of reading about characters described as “perfect.” I’m not overly attracted to the body builder type but I can appreciate a firm physique. However, I’ve been lucky to have had relationships with men of various sizes and races, and I’ve had some myths exposed and disproved because of it too.

This is why I love the movie The Full Monty and seeing a side of male vulnerability with regard to body image that you simply do not see in media.

What do y’all think? Are you more or less likely to read a book where body size is an issue on some level? Or do you pass on it either because 1) you’re not interested in yet another story whining about size and/or 2) you want the characters in your books to be as physically “perfect” as possible. If they can’t be on the cover of VOGUE or Men’s Fitness, you don’t wanna know.

Your answer may influence your perception—and enjoyment—of All About Eva. I’ll be interested in hearing your thoughts.

All About Eva is now available on Amazon

Jayne Marlowe

Jayne Marlowe is a child of the 1970s, a Gen-Xer looking for her lost tribe. She writes interracial stories featuring curvy Black women who defy stereotype and genre conventions. Her interests include reading, music, animals, Archie comic books, cartoons, retro things, vintage things, fried food, real cars made out of real steel, and people who have a sense of humor. When she isn’t writing, Jayne is getting inspiration for future stories by reading, travelling, and her music tastes range from ABBA to The Zapp Band. She has received more than one indecent proposal in her life...but was too chicken to accept...more often than not, anyway. So she uses them as “what if” scenarios for her books! She is left handed and very ticklish.

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