Maybe that's why my current read hit me as hard as it did.
I'm not naming and shaming, because I've seen this trope a few times and it makes me grumpy every time I see it. I usually try and avoid said trope, but I stumbled onto this one because I got caught up on the recommendation and didn't do my own research. It's my own damn fault. Even so, I want to talk about it.
The trope I'm talking about is the one where an overweight heroine misses out on the guy because she's "fat, insecure, and unhappy", only to have a massive weight loss, and hit him back up to show how hot and successful she is now, rubbing it in his face. Variations on this include the heroine not knowing she's going to bump into her ex/crush/fantasy guy from her past, or heroine finding out she's forced to work with said hero from her past.
Of course, since I read romance almost exclusively in my fiction TBR, this means the heroine is about to embark on a romance with the dude who couldn't be bothered with her when she was heavy.
Obviously, as a big gal myself, this irks me.
I'm honestly happier and more confident in myself now than I was when I was eighty pounds lighter. Yes. Honestly. I dress how I want, and I don't put on things I don't like to please others. That could also have to do with my age. The point is...my happiness is not, and has never been tied to my weight. It has to do with my thoughts. It has to do with how much time I spend working on myself and my personal goals.
Years ago, eighty pounds lighter, two months after a miscarriage, I had a male doctor look at my weight and tell me "I'm sure you're working on losing weight. You obviously can't be happy with where you're at."
At one of the lowest points of my life, and one of my lowest weights, the doctor told me, in front of his student colleague, that I wasn't good enough.
I'm not telling you this to evoke pity. He was an old man, and I'm sure he's retired now, if not dead. Either way, I'm confident he won't be doing that shit to other women anymore. I'm telling you this to let you know, that no matter what your body looks like, or how much you weigh, there will always be someone out there who thinks you're not good enough.
There is no need to prove anything to people, because you and your body have nothing to do with how awful they are. And showing up to "rub it in their face" won't make you feel better if you lose weight. Now...I'm not saying losing weight won't make you feel better. Sometimes it does. If you want to get healthier for yourself, and to be able to do more things that your weight might be holding you back from, do it. But do it for you. This idea that losing weight will make someone love you is fucking atrocious.
Which is exactly why I loathe seeing it romanticized in fiction.
I have no issue with reading books about women who are thin. I have no issues with reading books about female athletes. I'll never be in either of those camps, but beauty comes in a lot of forms. Not just curvy ones. And I think they should all be represented and celebrated. If every heroine was the same, it would be boring.
What I take serious issue with, is a heroine who is stunted in her maturity level by such a degree, that she has to lose weight to "get the guy" she wants. What I take issue with is a woman who has to gain her self worth from a scale and male attention.
If any other authors stumble on here, this probably isn't about you specifically. But if you find something I'm saying here offends you, feel free to evaluate that on your own time. If the shoe fits, feel free to strap it on and get mad at me.
But I want to make a couple of points.
1. Extreme weight loss comes with side effects. If your heroine looses over a hundred pounds, she's not going to have tight and toned skin. She's going to have loose skin requiring surgery at the most, and tons of stretch marks at the very least. If she's perfect from head to toe after a dropping a ton of weight, this tells me you're a skinny woman trying to jump on the band wagon and you've never known anyone who is overweight. Educate yourself.
2. Losing weight is not Prozac. Dropping weight does not make you happy. It might give a confidence boost, but not always. The world vilifies fat people, and jumping on the train of the pretty people will make some feel better. But without showing your heroine's growth in other areas, you are equating skinny with happy, and it's just not true.
3. Not all women get fat, but we all go through changes. Very few people who have long term relationships look like they did when their relationship started. Having a hero not want a heroine when she was fat, but falling for her when she's thin, shows me as a reader that the moment she loses her looks, he'll be out the door. And I'm not down for an asshole getting the prize.
Before I get people coming for me, I'm not telling anyone what to write. People hate my books, and they are entitled to their opinion. But I have experience as an overweight woman, and what those people experience. Seeing the bullshit I deal with on the regular misrepresented to such a degree pisses me off.
So if you want to write a curvy heroine and you've never been friends with someone who has extra junk in the trunk, maybe...I don't know...talk to us. And if you're one of those bitches who sits in a corner cackling with her buds discussing how a plus sized woman shouldn't wear certain things...just stick to writing people who you find beauty in. Because when you write a heroine you'd go mean girls on in real life, it shows.
Below is a little song that's been making the rounds. And I feel like it's a good time to blast it in my kitchen today while I pick a different book to read. Do you have any favorite books that handle weight loss well? I'd love to have a good book cued up after my dance party.