We live in a world with so much diversity, and yet so often this isn’t reflected in the media. Here are 10 books with fat main characters that completely rock (yes, my age is showing). Often they do have to deal with fatphobia and prejudice, but ultimately, they’re just living their lives – hanging out with friends, falling in love, and, sometimes, saving the world.
I’ve chosen not to include my star ratings (they’re all above ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 in case you’re wondering) because this is about books with positive fat representation, not about whether they’re personally my cup of tea.
There’s Something About Sweetie by Sandhya Menon 🇮🇳
When her traditional Desi mom refuses overtures from hot-guy Ashish’s mother for them to date, Sweetie decides to date him behind her parents’ back to prove that being fat doesn’t mean she isn’t worthy of love. Honestly, this was the fluffiest, cutest book I’ve ever read. Sweetie is probably my favourite character of the year. Sweetie runs track, and loves to sing. She’s fierce, and funny and gentle, and she loves her body, and who she is. Watching the romance bloom between her and Ashish (who has his own hang ups) was pure magic. I liked that Sweetie was proud of her heritage, and she wanted to share that with Ashish, who has previously rejected it in order to fit in to American society.
Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand 🏳️🌈
It’s been a few years since I read this, but it was amazing. Marion is one of three main characters, and completely kickass. It was so heartening to have a fat queer girl fighting monsters and saving the day.
Fat Girl in a Plane by Kelly Devos
Inspired by her own experiences of ‘flying while fat,’ Kelly DeVos writes about a fat girl pursuing her dreams in the fashion industry, but at the expense of her own happiness and self-confidence. The MC in this one does lose weight, but it explores the dark side of dieting and the societal pressures of being thin.
Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram 🏳️🌈 🇮🇷
Darius is probably my favourite male character of the year. He’s a fat, depressed, gay, half-Persian boy who loves tea and Star Trek. When his grandfather gets sick, Darius, his little sister, and parents go to Iran to spend some time with him. There are heaps of delicious food descriptions, and we get to explore parts of Iran through Darius’ eyes, as he makes friends, learns more about his culture, his heritage, his family, and ultimately, himself.
The Queen of Ieflaria by Effie Calvin 🏳️🌈
It’s been a minute since I read this, but I remember the way it felt to read about an intelligent, capable, and beautiful fat princess. She comes to Ieflaria for a marriage alliance, but her betrothed has died, so she ends up engaged to the country’s irresponsible wastrel princess instead. Did I mention there were dragons?
Beneath the Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire 🏳️🌈
The whole Wayward Children series is amazing, but this book will always have a special place in my heart. Not only do we visit a world made of sweets (I drew these lands a lot when I was 6), but the main character in this edition, __, is fat. While she had to deal with shame and fatphobia in this world, she absolutely shined in her underwater world. Her body, rather than being judged, is wholly accepted. So when she’s spat back through to this reality, she has to readjust again, while also going on an epic quest to save a whole reality.
I’ll Be the One by Lyla Lee 🏳️🌈 🇰🇷
Content warnings: Fat phobia, fat shaming, emotional abuse
Firstly, this cover is so cute. So just sit and soak it in for a moment. Our main character, Skye, is a fat Korean-American girl with the voice of an angel, and dance moves to rival the best in the business. Unfortunately, her mother thinks she’s too fat to dance (among other things,) and is ashamed of her daughter, and worried what other people will think. So when Skye auditions for both the dance and singing portions on a tv competition to become a K-Pop idol, her mother is less than supportive. Nevertheless, Skye believes in herself and pushes on regardless, making friends along the way, as well as the acquaintance of a hot Korean-American celebrity.
Goddess in the Machine by Lora Beth Johnson
Andra went into cryostasis expecting to wake up 100 years later with her family on a new world. Instead, a boy, Zhade, wakes her up 1000 years later to a world that is both alien and dangerous. Andra is driven to find out what happened to her family, while also having to navigate the politics of court. Meanwhile, Zhade has plans of his own that don’t necessarily coincide with hers. There aren’t heaps of references to Andra’s body, because that’s not what the story is about. She experiences some shame and insecurity about her body, but other people (in the present/future) don’t seem to have any sort of negative prejudice toward her, so the book is almost totally free from fat-shaming, which is a nice change.
Get a life Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert 🦽
I’m going to make it clear at the outset, romance, as a genre, isn’t my favourite thing to read. But this was incredibly sweet. There’s like a laundry list of rep in this book: fat, Black, disability, mental health; but somehow none of that takes over. It’s not ‘an issues book.’ It’s very much a romance, and the rep is sensitive and nuanced. Chloe Brown, our MC, is fat, Black, and has fibromyalgia. We get to see the ways those intersectional marginalisations affect her on a day-to-day basis, and how it makes it difficult for her to trust other people. The love interest, Red, has trust issues of his own from a prior (abusive) relationship, which has led to depression and anxiety. It may sound like a downer, but this book is actually pretty amazing. The sexual tension between the two leads had me fanning myself.
Spoiler Alert by Olivia Dade
Again, look at that cover. Isn’t it beautiful? Spoiler Alert is like a love letter to fandoms everywhere. I’m not much of a romance fan, but this book was adorable. And the fat rep was sensitive and positive.
On my TBR
If It Makes You Happy by Claire Kann 🏳️🌈
If the Dress Fits by Carla de Guzman 🇸🇽
Fat Chance Charlie Vega by Crystal __
Ruinsong by Julia Ember