Graduate Review


Fat representation of female heroines in young adult literature generally centers around the protagonist’s struggle to accept her body or situates her body as vehicle for the message of body positivity. Both alternatives keep the narrative focus on the body, defining it as the most important part of the character. This essay examines in depth the pitfalls of fat representation by deconstructing Jennifer Niven’s 2016 Holding up the Universe and comparing to a more commendable more portrayal of fat representation in Rainbow Rowell’s 2012 Eleanor and Park. In particular, this essay focuses on the fallacies of the body positivity movement, the correlation between the male gaze and body acceptance, the intersectionality of body image and privilege, and the complications of fat representation and sexual abuse. This is by no means a thorough scope of fat representation in young adult literature, but rather a means of beginning the conversation.



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