Shapelings, let’s talk fatness in young adult fiction. YA fiction often positions fat as shorthand for countless negative qualities the writer is too unmotivated to develop – like presenting bullies as fat kids, which reinforces fatness as something sinister and deserving of scorn – or as the genesis of a butterfly story, which reinforces fat as a quality one must jettison to uncover the true self (which naturally is thin and beautiful). Of course there are other ways in which fatness is portrayed, but those two immediately came to mind.
In Blubber by Judy Blume – which I strongly advocate avoiding; it isn’t worth the Sanity Watcher Points – fat bodies are used as a learning opportunity for others, devoid of input of those with lived experiences.
The Cat Ate My Gymsuit by Paula Danziger is a fairly sympathetic and complex exploration of fatness, despite the protagonist being problematically framed as “smart, but overweight”.
The marginally empowering messages presented in The Cat Ate My Gymsuit go completely to hell in its follow up There’s a Bat in Bunk Five, where the protagonist realizes the FoBT complete with popularity and a cute boyfriend.
Other books off the top of my head:
Have you read any of these titles? What do you remember about how fatness was presented in the YA fiction you read? How did the portrayal of fatness or lack thereof inform your relationship to your own fat?