Perfectly Imperfect Characters


I recently read a post online where a writer condemned other writers for penning “perfect” characters. Where are all the fat characters, this person asked? And it got me to thinking…..would I read a book where the main characters looked like – well – me.

Hell. No.

Full disclosure…..I’ve struggled with my weight almost from the moment I entered the world. I might be exaggerating just a bit, but you get what I’m saying. I’ve been various sizes of fat during my lifetime….”curvy” fat. Post baby fat. Happily married fat. And now, menopausal fat.

You get the picture.

What is my point, you ask? Well, for me reading is my escape from reality. Being fat is my reality. So are saggy boobs, beer bellies, bills and stress. Why the hell would I want to read a book with a character that’s just like me?

Here’s the thing….first and foremost fiction is just that: not based in truth. Made up. Created. Based in fantasy.

Yes….I want to read about men with 6-pack abs. I want women characters who don’t know what it’s like to quite literally spend a lifetime thinking about food. I want a story where the sex is always hot; never messy, and always ends in multiple mind-blowing orgasms.

Unlike the poster I mentioned above, I don’t need to read about “real” characters to feel validated. We are all made up of equal parts beautiful and awful. I’m all-too aware that bodies (yours, mine, ours) are less than perfect. That’s the reality we all live in. So why not, for just a little while, can’t one slide into the land of the perfectly beautiful, before we’re destined to fall with a splat back into reality-land.

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe fiction SHOULD represent more characters like those of us who schlep through life in leggings and no makeup. Maybe more characters should accept one another for their less-than perfect body. It’s what we’ve come to expect from one another in real life. Right?

The online poster really only reaffirmed what most of know…..opinions (like reading, and writing and music and art) are subjective. I’m certain this person fully enjoys his/her experience of reading or writing about a character with lumps and bumps. I do not. That does not make my opinion (or that person's either) right or wrong. It makes us all, perfectly imperfect in every single way.

-AJ

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