I am going to start this with what might be considered TMI. I have big boobs. Honestly, that may be an understatement. I have huge boobs. I’m a 40G bra size, they’re ridiculously dense (I once dropped one on an ex’s face out of spite and gave them a bloody nose), cause all kinds of back pain and chest pain, and are just generally annoying in every way. My boobs are the elephant in the room. People always bump into them and awkwardly shrink back. I can’t fold my arms over my chest to do spirit songs at my school, and it hinders a bit of my movements and the ways I can lean or lay down. My boobs are only a part of my body though. My butt is decently sized. I have big thighs. I have a muffin top and love handles and terrible backne (back acne). But I can only tell you on one character who I see my body in. (Shout out to Scarlet Beniot of The Lunar Chronicles.)
It’s a little easier I suppose, I’m white, which gives me something in common with the majority of protagonists, which is an issue in itself. YA has made decent strides in including protagonists of color. But where are the fat girls? Where are the average girls? The average American woman is a size 16 (me!), and YA doesn’t seem to have the memo.
I’m not saying the girls we have aren’t great characters. I’m saying they’re thin characters. Katniss Everdeen is thin becuase her family was starving. Tris is thin because of Dauntless’ rigorous training. Princess Mia is thin, boobless and assless, along with the great majority of awkward female leads. I recognize that there is a stress on a specific body type that also victimizes women who aren’t swinging 38Gs around, but they have found a representation of themselves in YA.
Bustle collected a list of five books that address body issues. But that’s five in hundreds. That’s five books with mostly white plus size/average size protagonists. I can only identify my body with one character, a white character in a book that, while it is filled with racially diverse characters it does not have diverse body types. YA is in desperate need of not only more big white girls, but big black, Asian (both Eastern and Southern and everything in between), and Native girls. It needs girls with big boobs figuring out how to use a sword around their tits, more girls who can’t escape through the bars becuase of thick thighs and asses, more girls who take up more physical space than society lets them think they deserve.
YA needs to fill all this empty space with fat and wide hips, and then let these fat girls love themselves and their bodies and be badasses who save the world, become queen, get the boy/girl of their dreams and live happily ever after. It needs big girls to be villains, to have tragic endings, to be the one to kill their world’s dark lord. They deserve a story. Let them have it.