Size Does Matter: Plus-Sized Heroines in Young Adult Fiction ChLA 2019 Panel Proposal

deadline for submissions: 
September 15, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
Amy L Montz proposing panel for Children's Literature Association 2019 Conference
contact email: 

Size Does Matter: Plus-Sized Heroines in Young Adult Fiction



Size and weight have long been issues for adolescent and young adult girls, and contemporary literature discusses weight issues with great alacrity.  Yet many YA narratives about weight deal with a plus-sized heroine losing weight rather than coming to terms with and appreciating the bodies young girls have been given, thus lacking advocacy for the body positivity movement.  This innocent yet deeply problematic portrayal of contemporary concerns over body positivity gives young women the false notion that in order to be loved and appreciated by society, they must be in possession of a skinny body.  Further, the heteronormativity of such narratives—girls must lose weight to attract boys—alienates LGBTQA readers and reaffirms societal standards.


Recently, however, YA literature is catching up with contemporary efforts towards body positivity, of celebrating all bodies, regardless of size, and novels such as Julie Murphy’s Dumplin’ and Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor and Park are prime examples of why and how the YA industry is dealing with heroines of size, and thus, readers of size.


This proposed panel, “Size Does Matter: Plus-Sized Heroines in Young Adult Fiction” solicits papers that explore a wealth of books about heroines of size, both those that force their heroines to lose weight and those that celebrate the bodies’ diversity, as well as recent campaigns in contemporary advertisements (Lane Bryant’s All Bodies, for example) to see what messages literature and popular culture are sending to contemporary readers.  Ultimately, as I hope the panel will argue, these novels present body positivity for readers, and advocate for younger readers (and their adult counterparts who are a large portion of YA literature’s audience) to come to terms with their own body issues.

 250-word abstracts and 100-word bios due by 09/15/2018 to accommodate the deadline of the conference (October 15th) to Dr. Amy L. Montz (