Swoon Author Shani Petroff: Love for My Plus-Size Protagonist
I’ve struggled with my weight for most of my life.
Yet, as I was setting out to work on Airports, Exes, and Other Things I’m Over, I realized none of my characters have been overweight (at least not significantly so).
Growing up most of the main female characters I saw (TV, movies, books) were thin (unless weight was a major plot point). They were the ones who were considered beautiful, popular, and got the guy.
The overweight character (if there even was one), was often the comic relief or made fun of. It didn’t help my already shaky self-confidence.
So for this book, it was important to me that my main character, Sari, was not only confident, pretty, popular, and had people who were attracted to her—but that she was also plus size. While the cover model is thinner than Sari, she is a plus size model. And the Swoon squad was great in making sure a plus size model was cast. The agency kept sending links to traditional sized models, but Swoon kept passing on them. (The whole process was eye opening. I’m still surprised/dismayed by what the modeling industry considers plus size.)
All that being said—Sari’s weight is not a big part of the book at all. It doesn’t get much more thought than her height or how her hair looks. She doesn’t harp on it or feel the need to change it. It comes up when she’s forced to think about it—i.e., worrying about her hips fitting properly into an airline seat—but in general it doesn’t take over her thoughts. She’s a character who is comfortable with herself.
Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes.
There are confident (and self-conscious) people of all shapes and sizes.
And love comes to people of all shapes and sizes.
Younger me needed to see that more, so older me is hoping this will help others in the same boat.