Response to Horn Book fatphobia article

The current Horn Book Magazine includes a letter from Madeleine George, author of Looks, one of the books Kathryn Nolfi calls out as fatphobic in her article from the January issue, “YA Fatphobia”. (I discussed that article a bit here.)

I think George raises a particularly interesting question here:

More importantly, though, I take issue with the idea that only “positive” portrayals of fat characters can show fat readers that their lives are worth living. This strikes me as a typical error on the part of liberation movements of all kinds, particularly in their early stages: the boosterish demand for more representations that show members of a marginalized group in a rigidly “positive” light; and the attendant attempt to rid the world of “negative” representations that activists fear will veer too close to the stereotypes that have long disempowered them.

I haven’t read her book, so I can’t comment on whether it is or is not fatphobic. But her letter is well-written and worth a look. Mostly I’m just boosting the signal for this issue in general; I’m glad it’s been getting so much attention in Horn Book lately!

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One Response to Response to Horn Book fatphobia article

  1. rebecca says:

    George’s book Looks makes me phenomenally uncomfortable. I feel sadder and igrier saying this now that I know she cares about fatpol, but reading Looks made me feel incredibly uncomfortable to be fat — and I’m a fat activist who’s been working on this for years. Looks‘s fat character is seen from the outside; the text places the reader in a position of always viewing her as an object/body rather than ever understanding her; and the diction makes her downright grotesque.

    Yes, an argument could me raised about whose perspective that is, but at a certain point, there’s just too much hateful description seeping through for the question of perspective to matter. Each of us has different books that we’d feel that way about; I feel it about Looks and K.L. Going’s Fat Kid Rules the World. I know that not everyone else feels that way, even other fatpol people.

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