I remember the first time I encountered an attractive fat woman in a fantasy novel. My heart flipped a little as I read about a woman was for-real fat. She wasn’t your usual fictional overweight woman, either: there was no zaftig or curvy or voluptuous to be found near the Scientist’s Daughter in Haruki Murakami’s Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World. But she was definitely attractive. The narrator describes her as follows:
“A white scarf swirled around the collar of her chic pink suit. From the fullness of her earlobes dangled square gold earrings, glinting with every step she took. Actually, she moved quite lightly for her weight. She may have strapped herself into a girdle or other paraphernalia for maximum visual effect, but that didn’t alter the fact that her wiggle was tight and cute. In fact, it turned me on. She was my kind of chubby.”
She was chubby and attractive. It wasn’t ideal representation, not by a long shot, but it was something in a land of so very little. The description was imperfect but refreshing. For a fantasy fan like me, finding a fat, attractive female character felt revolutionary. Maybe it hit hard because it was my first time. I was 19 when I read Hard-Boiled Wonderland, which means it took me almost 15 years to find an unconventionally attractive woman in a fantasy novel who was not a mother, villain, or whore. And I had to go speculative to get it.