Big Boned: Exploring the Absence of Fat Children in Children's Literature




Ralston, Mindy

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In this study, I pushed to understand the presence and purpose of fat children in children’s literature. With the rising “obesity” panic, we teach children younger and younger that their bodies will and should be policed. One of the most common ways to do this is through media easily accessed by children. Children’s books are often one of children’s first introductions to morality, and young readers learn how to judge their surroundings based on what they are reading or what is being read to them. Through negative representations of fat bodies, as well as their lack of representation entirely, young readers begin formulating harmful ideas about fat bodies from an early age. This Fat Studies research explored these harmful representations of common destructive tropes and patterns of body shaming inside books aimed toward young readers by critically analyzing depictions and symbolic erasure of fat bodies inside of children’s books.