Francesca has been trying to think of a way to put a light, frothy spin on this question, but cannot think of any, so she will just put it out there.
When Francesca was perhaps 11 or 12 years old, her Aunt Bianca came from America with a gift for Francesca: a book in English called Nothing’s Fair in Fifth Grade.
Francesca thinks the book was meant to be fat positive, in the way that fat positive was in the 1970’s and early 1980’s: the message was that Fat Girls are people too, and can make great friends, so do not make fun of your fat classmates!
The story ends with the Fat Girl losing a few pounds, which is correlated with her emerging popularity and happiness. Still, the book ends with the image that though she has lost some weight, she’s still quite heavy – and that’s basically OK. On the last page she notes that she can finally see her shoes, and Francesca, who was fat as a child, remembers relating to that line.
Francesca barely remembers Me and Fat Glenda, probably because the main character was actually the skinny girl, who had conflicts with her hippie parents, and since Francesca’s parents are as far from hippie as two people can possibly be, she did not relate. But she well remembers the sequel.
In this book, Fat Glenda has lost a lot of weight. So much weight that she is now, if not slender, at least slender enough that boys are starting to notice her, if not exactly the boys she wants (and therein lies the conflict and the comedy). But — Francesca noticed then — on the cover was a VERY slender girl, admiring her figure in a mirror.
Francesca was disturbed, but did not know why. Now she knows: while the book gave the message that being thin would not solve all your problems, it also gave the message that being thin brought with it the wonderful problem of boyfriends. Clearly, if Glenda had remained fat, the entire plot of this book would be unthinkable, because fat girls need to focus on losing weight, not on boys. Or, at least, that is what Francesca got from it at the time.
Francesca wants to know: Did you read the Fat Glenda books as a child? And if so, what did you think of them then?
Were there other books with fat characters that you loved? Hated?