For years in romance the heroines were willowy, waif-like, and sometimes the dreaded curvy. Curvy was code for big, and they usually went on a successful diet, which led our hero to see that she was beautiful. If she stayed curvy then there was usually a part of those books was when the hero’s hand could span her waist. So either she had an extreme hourglass figure (like Jessica Rabbit) or he had a freakishly large hand.
With the Indie Revolution came more realistic characters. Authors wrote about what they wanted to read and many like to read about characters that share their traits. So we started to get the BBW-Big Beautiful Woman. She usually had issues with her body, and the hero coaxed her to show off her beautiful body, which made us love him more. “Oh look, it took this wonderful man to make her feel good about herself.”
I wish that I could say that times have changed enough that we wouldn’t have to label our books with the BBW designation. I mean we don’t categorize – Tall Male or petite female do we? But why would I expect publishing to change when I still do a quick check when I enter a room to see if I am the biggest woman there?
I’m over fifty and at my smallest I was a size 10 for about six months. I grew up in an area where most of the girls were short, slender, and blonde. I stood out; I was average height with dark hair and a thick body. However, I was lucky, I grew up with the mind-set that my body size was only a part of me, like my eye color and my taste in music. I’m a big girl and most likely always will be.
In my Change Series, the female characters are all a size 16 or bigger and they are okay with it. Sure they aren’t thrilled with their jiggles, but they have other things to worry about like starting over and for some…staying alive. The men in the series love their women, for their minds, hearts, and their bodies. They are attracted to them physically from the start and have no problem with their size. In fact, in Good, Tony is confused by Zoe’s reluctance to show her body after he had been pursuing her for weeks. In Best, during sex, Billie mentions that her butt must look huge while she is up on all fours. Tye brings things to a halt and gets dressed, telling her that their sex life has “no room for insecurities.”
My hope is that in Romance we can show the world that bigger women shouldn’t be called plus-sized, they should simply be called women. I’d like to invite you to join me in this cause. Stop labeling size and simply accept us, because we are all- Women.
Melanie Jayne lives on a grain farm in central Indiana with her husband of twenty-seven years and two mastiffs, Ginger and Duncan Keith. She’s worked retail, in a federal courtroom, closed loans and behind the scenes in a casino. Now she is living her dream—as a Romance Writer. Her first book was published in 2015 and she features characters over the age of thirty-five. She loves to meet readers and discuss all things book related.