There is a growing, important and encouraging movement to include and represent all body types in YA and romance, to dismantle fatphobic tropes and embrace fat positivity. Key to creating a truly inclusive and liberating movement is including people from different backgrounds because body politics can and does manifest differently from culture to culture an no one voice or one lived experience is all encompassing, So if you are looking for amazing, diverse and fat-positive reads to add to your bookshelf this list is for you!
Fat Chance, Charlie Vega by Crystal Maldonado
Charlie is smart, creative, a writer, and fat. The last one is a point of contention between her and her mother who is not-so-subtle about her opinion that her daughter should lose weight and be more like Amelia; Charlie’s popular athletic best friend. Amelia is 100% Charlie’s hype woman but sometimes Charlie can’t help but feel second best to her. When Charlie strikes up a relationship with her cute classmate, the first worthwhile guy that has shown interest in her, things seem to be going great, perfect even, until Charlie discovers that her asked Amelia out first, Is Charlie the second choice again? Fat Chance, Charlie Vega is a sweet and heartfelt coming of age story that explores cultural messaging on body size, exploring multicultural identities, and loving yourself.
I’ll Be the One by Lyla Lee
One shouldn’t judge books by their covers, but I can confirm that I’ll Be the One is as bright and joyful as it’s cover suggests. Skye has never let society, or her mother, curb her dreams of joining the dazzling world of K-Pop. When the chance to perform in an internationally televised competition looking for the next K-pop star arises Skye, determined to become the world’s first plus sized K-Pop star, seizes the opportunity. If only there wasn’t a very cute competitor named Henry Cho standing between her and victory. I’ll Be the One turns a critical eye to the fat-phobic standard of the K-Pop world and the entertainment media at large, Lyla Lee’s affirming and heartwarming novel is not to be missed.
There’s Something about Sweetie by Sandhya Menon
A contractual obligation to date, an eccentric Auntie, and two Indian Americans with something to prove. The result? An absolutely, laugh out loud, must read novel. There’s Something about Sweetie brings all the charm, hilarity and family drama that we have come to love from Sandhya Menon. Sweetie Nair is a track champion and a badass, but to her parents, her being fat is tragic. Ashish Patel has been unceremoniously dumped by his ex-girlfriend and now his family is insisting they can find him a match. The last thing both expected was the growing attraction between them. There’s Something about Sweetie is sassy and fun.
Love Is a Revolution by Renée Watson
Nala Robertson did not expect to instantly fall for local activist Tye Brown at an open mic night she didn’t even want to attend, but she did. Nala also did not expect a few harmless lies that she might have told to get closer to Tye to get out of hand, but they did. As their attraction grows, so do Nala’s lies until suddenly She finds it’s almost impossible to keep up. Will Nala find truth and love among the lies? Or has she talked her way into a corner with no way out? Love Is a Revolution explores plus-size self-love, radical friendship and activism and is a must for fans of Ibi Zoboi and Elizabeth Acevedo.
Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson
What better way to pass the time in a small town than witchcraft? Mila Flores is just an amateur But when two of the town’s most popular and feared mean girls die under suspicious circumstances, Mila and her best friend Riley begin to investigate and in the process do the unthinkable to uncover the truth: summon the dead girls back to life. Unfortunately, the spell only lasts for a limited time and the undead girls have no recollection of who is behind their demise so Mila must race the clock to find out the truth and unmask a killer. Undead Girl Gang will appeal to fans of Buffy, found families, and necromantic hijinks.
Each of these books brings self-proclaimed and confident fat women of color to the front, but how and to what extent each protagonist engages with body politics is unique, refreshing and empowering and will have you cheering each of them on as they fall in love, conquer their dreams and occasionally summon the undead.