[DWJ] Bad Mothers (was HP)

Kyla Mackay-Smith kyla at sccs.swarthmore.edu
Thu May 17 10:30:38 EDT 2007


On Thu, 17 May 2007 deborah.dwj at suberic.net wrote:

> Can you never make a fat character lose weight any young adult
> novel without showing weight loss as an essential part of
> character development and perforce showing fatness as a character
> flaw which must be rejected? It's hard to say. Of course it makes
> sense that the kid in Hatchet loses weight; he's starving in the
> Canadian bush. Of course the boy in Staying Fat for Sara Byrnes
> ends up losing weight; he's a competitive swimmer, and he can
> barely keep the weight on at all even when he is trying to. But
> those books exist in a canon which also includes The Perilous
> Gard*, which includes the standard young woman coming of age
> trope that her fat at the book's beginning has transformed into
> breasts and hips by the book's end. In The Perilous Gard,
> therefore, we are reinscribing the unexplored notion that fat is
> equivalent with flawed & undeveloped characters, youth, and
> sexlessness; character development brings maturity, sexual
> identity, and lost weight.

You know, I always thought that bit about "the new slenderness of her
waist" or whatever in The Perilous Gard stuck out, because I'd always
thought of Kate's awkward movements as going along with a bony, gawky sort
of frame--she's described as "a tall girl, all arms and legs." I thought
of Alicia as curvy in comparison, and Kate not as fat. But also, I thought
it was stupid that Kate's time away would have made her hair grow
significantly (so it didn't fit under the hood) and her neck get skinnier.
More graceful movements, fine, we saw that happening.

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If a man cannot be a Christian in the place where he is,
he cannot be a Christian anywhere.
       --Henry Ward Beecher



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