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When Do Fat Girls Get to Be the Main Character?

In a guest essay, author A.K. Mulford talks plus-sized representation in fantasy books.

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We’re not used to reading about bigger bodies that are lovable and heroic—let alone desirable. I’ve had people tell me that a plus size character is “unrealistic.” Really? You believe in fae and monsters and magic, but not a fat main character?

Every day in my “real life,” stunning people of all sizes make my heart flutter, especially when their thighs jiggle. (Yes, I have a thing for thighs… if you’ve seen any of my TikToks you’ll know that all too well—where’s the thigh representation in fantasy books??) Yet we’ve been told there’s only one way to be attractive, and we’ve been told there’s one main character body type.


When I set out to write Lina, the princess and main love interest in my newest book, The Rogue Crown, I knew I wanted her to be unapologetically plus sized like myself. (She’s also a fierce warrior and a fae princess so the similarities end there, but still.) I just knew I wanted readers to feel like they could open up a book and possibly see themselves as the hero, because I never got to see that myself growing up.


“Fat” has been a negative buzzword for most of my life. It felt like all of my achievements were secondary to my appearance. I’ve felt shame in both gaining and losing weight. I’ve felt confident in a plus size body and then lost weight and suddenly didn’t know what or where I fit in, only to jump back up in size—over the winter or after having my first child—before I could figure it out. I’ve been every size from a 2 to a 24. It took me a long time to sit with the body I have instead of running away from it, trying to contort and squeeze and pressure myself to fit an unachievable mold. I know many, if not all, of my readers can relate. What I would have given to read a character like Lina when I was growing up! In the books and shows I grew up with, the fat fictional characters were always the funny sidekick, or the villain. Fat felt synonymous with lazy, sad, gross, undesirable—as if someone’s size could tell me the quality of their character.


And that’s what I desired: characters of quality. Characters that showed anyone could be powerful. I wanted my characters to represent all sorts of different body types: fat, round, curvy, muscular, tall, lean, broad, stout, lithe... there isn’t one type of body in my worlds. One of my most epic writing rebellions, more than conquering evil kings and toppling mountains with magic, is writing characters who love their bodies exactly as they are.

And that’s led to one of the most rewarding and humbling parts of writing: having readers reach out to me to let me know that my books have helped them realize that they not only deserve to be seen, but to be celebrated. Every person, every size, every reader belongs in the world of fantasy. I hope more people are able to see themselves in my characters, and I hope more authors feel encouraged to write characters who look like themselves too.


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Image: Harper Collins

Romantasy on an epic scale, A.K. Mulford’s newest book follows fae warrior Briata Catullus as she sets out on a mission to investigate the murder of her queen and, upon her arrival at the court, meets an enchanting princess she can’t seem to stay away from. The Rogue Crownis a tale of star-crossed lovers packed with action and adventure, sure to please the fans who’ve been anxiously awaiting its release and anyone who loves a good romantic fantasy.


A.K. Mulford is the author of The Five Crowns of Okrith series. The third book, The Rogue Crown, will be published on October 25. You can pre-order it here.

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