Fat representation is really important to me. As a fat person myself, I’m always beaming when I notice a larger character in a book or a performer on the screen. When I was a child, I never even knew that there could be positive fat representation in fiction, but now that I am an adult raising and teaching children in larger bodies, I find myself keenly searching for every scrap of good rep I can find. Illustrated on book covers, joyful in animated series, powerfully dancing in Super Bowl halftime shows — give me all the fat people.
Fat representation pops up delightfully in the realm of comics and graphic novels. Also a phenomenon in recent animated shows (May I suggest Harvey Girls Forever or the She-Ra reboot?), comics allow characters to have fat bodies without any need to address this as a plot point. While unashamedly naming fatness and addressing the fatphobia that many people live with daily is valid and necessary, there is a joy in seeing fat people fall in love, wield magic, and delight in their friends. It’s a relief.
Below, I’ve gathered comics and graphic novels that have fat main characters or positive fat representation. Sometimes this is named and crucial to the plot. Other times, it’s simply background noise that adds to the rich tapestry of a lovely story. Ranging in length, format, and age of audience, there should be something for everyone!
Faith Vol. 1: Hollywood and Vine by Jody Houser, Francis Portela, Marguerite Sauvage
Faith is kind of the gold standard when it comes to fat representation in comics. Hot blonde superhero? Yes, please! I really adore how Faith is drawn, both as her superhero self and as her alter ego: large stomach, double chins. No “flattering fat,” as I sometimes call it. It’s amazing. Her weight is discussed, but she’s never the punchline.
Moonstruck Volume 1: Magic to Brew by Shae Beagle, Kate Leth, Grace Ellis
Moonstruck is warm and fuzzy and subtle and sumptuous. Julie, one of the main characters, is drawn delightfully fat, with a sweet round face and wonderful curves. She is much more sensitive about her werewolf status than her size, which is simply an accessory to her many supernatural adventures.
Manu: A Graphic Novel by Kelly Fernández
This middle grade graphic novel is another where size takes a backseat to plot. Manu and Josefina are best friends who live at a magic school for girls. When Manu’s pranking streak ends up endangering the girls, Josefina makes a wish that could change their magic — and their friendship — forever.
Patience & Esther: An Edwardian Romance by S.W. Searle
Described as a “steamy period piece” and “erotic journey,” Patience and Esther is exactly what I’m looking for: a fat woman having sex! While there are some instances of body insecurity, the plot focuses much more on the sweetness of this sapphic romance. When so much of popular culture makes fat people a desexualized joke, it’s incredibly meaningful to see a fat woman in a pleasurable intimate situation. Get it.
Stargazing by Jen Wang
Second verse, same as the first. It’s actually very encouraging that so many of these books have a diversity of size in their appearance, but the plot itself just doesn’t bother with it. Stargazing is about one of those intense preteen friendships that are the most wonderful and horrible things at the exact same time. Add in a doozy of a twist, and you have a one-sitting read.
Across a Field of Starlight: (A Graphic Novel) by Blue Delliquanti
Look at this cover. Revel in this cover. The first time I saw it, I truly stopped and stared. Compared in reviews to Star Wars and Ursula K. Le Guin, Across a Field of Starlight is a sci-fi epic featuring a penpal relationship between two nonbinary characters from very different societies. Delliquanti has been praised for worldbuilding, as well as rich body diversity in the art.
Besties: Work It Out (The World of Click) by Kayla Miller, Jeffrey Canino, Kristina Luu
This spinoff from the Click universe features Beth and Chanda channeling their inner Baby-Sitters Club and trying to earn some money. The theme is, again, maintaining friendships during the difficult work of growing up. Beth is drawn fat, with sparkling eyes and soft curves. Moreover, there is a lot of body diversity in the universe the girls inhabit, which is really refreshing. More than one fat friend, yes!
Chunky by Yehudi Mercado
Back to middle school, and back to tackling fatphobia head on. Hudi’s weight is discussed right off the bat, with doctors asking him to reduce it. As his parents pressure him to go out for sports (for health reasons beyond lowering the number on the scale, which right there changes the narrative a bit), Hudi draws on his imaginary mascot to cheer him on. Can you even with this character? LOOK AT HIM. Read this, then give it to some kids.
Gazing at all these covers graced with big, beautiful bodies made me feel so warm. Looking for more fabulous fat representation? Check out this list of fat positive romance books!