Image is important when you are a teen, especially in the era of the selfie. Posting photos on social media for all to criticize can have ill effects on a teen’s image.
In recent months, body shaming has been headline news due to comedian Nicole Arbour’s vlog called Dear Fat People. Her “satirical” commentary sparked a nationwide conversation about harmful speech. Celebrities such as Demi Lovato, Kelly Clarkson, and Selena Gomez have spoken out about people who call out their weight in photos. The common denominator is that fat shaming must stop and we must learn to respect everyone regardless of how they look.
Recent YA novels have addressed body image in different ways. Some novels are about bullying, some focus on relationship issues with parents, some feature boys, and some are just stories that feature characters that aren’t thin. Regardless of the issue, readers come in all shapes and sizes and all teens should see themselves in books, which is why the latest installment of Diversity YA features not-so-skinny POVs.
Below are a list of YA novels that feature teens of varied size and circumstance.
- Fat Boy Vs. The Cheerleaders by Geoff Herbach (2015 Top Ten Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults)
When Gabe finds out that the vending machine money funds the cheer squad instead of the band, he makes it his mission to change it back.
- Butter by Erin Lange (2013 Teens’ Top Ten)
Butter is obese and lonely and decides to eat himself to death live on the internet. When his eventual live suicide results in attention from his classmates, Butter must decide if he’s going to follow through and or cancel and deal with the fall out.
- Food, Girls, and Other Things I Can’t Have by Allen Zadoff
When the new girl April comes to town, Andrew tries to find a way to win her over. His solution is joining the football team.
- Losing It by Erin Fry
Bennett spends time with his father doing their favorite activity, watching the Dodgers and eating burgers and fries. When his father is sent to the hospital, Bennett is forced to live with his aunt and her crusade to make him healthy. Bennett can either let his aunt run his life or he can literally step up to the plate and take over his own life.
- Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy
Willowdean’s mother is the director of the town’s beauty pageant and has never asked Willow if she’d like to compete. Willow forms a make-out relationship with the cute guy at work but they never go out it public. Can the always confident Willowdean, aka Dumplin, maintain an overbearing mother, a private boyfriend, and a skinny best friend or will insecurities set in?
- Eleanor and Park by (2014 Teens’ Top Ten) (2014 Printz Honor Book) (2014 Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults) (2014 Best Fiction For Young Adults) Rainbow Rowell
Eleanor is the new girl. She has frizzy red hair, she wears baggy men’s clothes, and lives with her 4 brothers and sisters and her mother and stepfather in a two bedroom house. Park is half white, half Korean boy who loves comics, music and lives in the shadow of his taller younger brother. On Eleanor’s first day on the bus, Park reluctantly lets her sit next to him as she is verbally assaulted by the other kids. For weeks, they sit next to each other without conversation until they form a strong bond over comics and music. Eleanor and Park is about insecurity, abuse, and in the words of DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince, “Parents just don’t understand.”
- 45 Pounds by KA Barson
Ann Galardi decides she must lose 45 pounds in 2 and 1/2 months for her aunt’s wedding but when her perfect size 6 mother becomes not-so-perfect and a cute guy takes notice, Ann realizes that it’s about being comfortable within your own skin.
- Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
When super villain Ballister Blackheart is invaded by a pushy girl named Nimona, he reluctantly allows her to assist in his evil plan to bring down the Institute. When Nimona’s reckless acts cause major destruction, Blackheart rethinks his mission.
- This One Summer by (2015 Printz Honoree) (2015 Great Graphic Novel for Teens) Mariko Tamaki and Jullian Tamaki
Every year Rose and her parents spend the summer in a lake house and Rose always looks forward to spending time with her friend Windy. This summer, however, is different because of her parents’ constant fighting and Rose and Windy find themselves involved in the town’s teen drama.
So What do Teens Think about Not-So-Skinny POVs?
Katie-“These books are important because just like books that have teens of other ethnicities, they don’t always get any recognition and you don’t always get to hear their point of view.”
— Dawn Abron, currently reading The Impostor Queen by Sarah Fine
2 thoughts on “Diversify YA Life: Not-So-Skinny POVs”
A phenomenal book by a new YA novelist, Dierdre Riordan Hall called Sugar is another gorgeously done look at an overweight girl and her relationships, specifically a toxic one with her morbidly obese mother.
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