Romance/Erotica

Finding a Unicorn: Romance Novels With Fat Representation on the Cover

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Two truths and a lie:

  • I’m fat.
  • I love romance novels.
  • I have no trouble finding romance novels with covers that make me feel represented.

As I am sure you’ve guessed, the last item is the lie. Or at least, it was untrue until recently! The first time I remember looking at a cover and thinking “That could be me!” was on Spoiler Alert by Olivia Dade. I don’t think this was the very first book cover I ever saw with a fat romance heroine, but it was one of the first. The bad news is that book came out…less than two years ago. I’ve been reading romance since the early 1990s and fat since the mid-aughts, so I read romance for 30 years before I saw a fat woman on the cover of one and was unrepresented for ~20 years. And I had to go until this year — this year, 2022 — to see a fat man on one. Two, actually: A Walk in the Park by Rebekah Weatherspoon and the forthcoming Ship Wrecked by Olivia Dade.

Now, I’m not saying that books with fat people on the covers didn’t exist until 2020. I’m sure they did, and there are a few backlist titles on this list. However, I didn’t see them, and that’s at least partly because it’s self-published and otherwise indie authors who are leading the charge, and I tend to buy books I know about…which is just more likely when they’re traditionally published. I’m not saying I shouldn’t have been seeking out more diverse options (and I mean diverse in any way you might use it), but I am saying I didn’t know where to look, or even that I wanted to look.

Artists and designers are credited (and their websites/Instagrams/etc. linked) whenever I was able to find that information. Some of it was not possible for me to locate. Publishers, I am begging you to include it on the copyright page!

40-Love by Olivia Dade book cover

40-Love by Olivia Dade

Cover design and illustration by Leni Kauffman

Yes, Virginia, fat people do play sports.

Alight by A.H. Cunningham book cover

Alight by A.H. Cunningham

Cover art by Nizzyarts
Cover design by Jack Harbon

Neon pinks and a bikini-clad babe who’s larger than a size 2? Yes, gimme more like this please.

Block Shot special edition cover

Block Shot (Special Edition) by Kennedy Ryan

No design info publicly available

I love the soft watercolors of the special editions for this series of basketball romances.

cover of Fall Into You by Georgina Kiersten

Fall into You by Georgina Kiersten

No design info publicly available

This photographer (whose name I haven’t found!) has somehow captured fall/autumn so thoroughly that I can taste pumpkin spice just from looking at it.

The Fastest Way to Fall by Denise Williams book cover

The Fastest Way to Fall by Denise Williams

Cover illustration and design by Farjana Yasmin

The main character of this novel is testing a fitness app for an article she’s writing, and this cover captures the fitness vibe nicely. It also somehow pulls off red + green without looking like Christmas.

cover of From Scratch by Katrina Jackson

From Scratch by Katrina Jackson

No design info publicly available

…I’m sorry, I got distracted. But for serious, everything about this is magnificent.

Get A Life, Chloe Brown Book Cover

Get A Life, Chloe Brown (The Brown Sisters) by Talia Hibbert

Cover design and illustration by Ashley Caswell

These are just plain fun, though I wish the people took up more of the covers. The mass market paperback versions have photo covers!

If the Dress Fits by Carla Guzman book cover

If the Dress Fits by Carla de Guzman

Cover image by Chi You Rodriguez for @RomanceClassCovers

The original cover for this novel had several illustrated dresses, which I loved, but this one features a beautiful smiling fat face, and I love it even more.

If the Shoe Fits by Julie Murphy book cover

If the Shoe Fits by Julie Murphy

Cover design by Marci Senders
Cover art by Stephanie Singleton

BRB, losing my entire mind over a fat Cinderella.

cover of The Love Con by Seressia Glass

The Love Con by Seressia Glass

Cover art by Jessica Meyrick
Cover design by Colleen Reinhart

Love the pink, love the cosplay (wish they had eyes)!

One Week to Claim It All book cover

One Week to Claim It All by Adriana Herrera

No design info publicly available

I love that dress, and love the softness of the couple in contrast with the sharpness of the angles behind them. And I especially love that this is a photograph!

cover of The Princess Trap by Talia Hibbert, showing an illustration of a white man embracing a Black woman from behind

The Princess Trap by Talia Hibbert

Cover and jacket art by Erin O’Neill Jones

I love the royal purple background with the incongruous bright red dress, and most of all I love the dark-skinned heroine. Those thighs are the trap, am I right?

Savvy Sheldon Feels Good as Hell by Taj McCoy cover

Savvy Sheldon Feels Good As Hell by Taj McCoy

No design info publicly available

This is literally everything I want in a romance novel cover. The gorgeous babe, the sundress, the pink backdrop, and the dog-walking hero who cannot tear his eyes away.

Sing Anyway by Anita Kelly book cover

Sing Anyway by Anita Kelly

No design info publicly available

This is giving “Summer Lovin'” karaoke, and I’m here for it.

Spoiler Alert by Olivia Dade book cover

Spoiler Alert (Series) by Olivia Dade

No design info publicly available

More big girls in clinches, please!

Sweet Disorder by Rose Lerner book cover

Sweet Disorder by Rose Lerner

Cover by Kanaxa

That over the shoulder “come hither” look is typically reserved for the young, skinny ingenue; I love seeing it from a fat woman, especially one in such a gorgeous dress.

A Walk in the Park by Rebekah Weatherspoon audiobook cover

A Walk in the Park by Rebekah Weatherspoon

No design info publicly available

The fact that they are both fat makes my heart happy. (I do wonder if the full illustration includes their feet!)


A note: I found this list a bit lacking in queer romance. In fact, there’s only two that I am certain are queer in this list of 17 titles; additionally, the second Brown Sisters book has a queer heroine. There is only one fat man; the third Spoiler Alert book also features one. I’d love to see both of these statistics improve! What I didn’t have any trouble finding was titles by authors of color. There is no question that Black authors have led the way here.

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