Some days I just want to “AAaaaarrrrg” over all the many and sundry places in which one so readily encounters fat hatred. The latest spy-with-my-little-eye was on, of all things, the Shelfari blog. I was just reading along a rather interestingly written piece on how to write a villain into your story when BAM I am mouth-gapingly drawn to this little gem:
One of the greatest challenges for writing memorable villains is how you signal to the reader the depth of your villain’s depravity. In the most base of cases, villains are fat, ugly, murderous, rapacious, child-hating, puppy-killing monsters who dress in all black and use too much eyeliner and from whom even the insects flee. You show they are evil by having them look physically vile, and have them do something horrific to lose them the reader’s sympathy. (emphasis mine)
Yep. That’s right. Being fat renders a character not only physically vile (yeah, thanks for that) but also helps create an impression of a depraved soul so without redeeming features that a reader should be 100% certain that they are never to send a sympathetic glance their way. The fat hatred isn’t even sugar-coated here folks!
I suppose I really shouldn’t feel surprise. We’ve discussed (here even and recently) the way that fat is the fall-back trope, the short-hand descriptor, for anyone looking to instantly create an unsympathetic character in written works. Still, seeing this as just a throw-away line in a long article on how to make a good evil character really just makes me incredibly frustrated. Can’t we move beyond stereotypical tropes about fat being as evil as murdering freakin’ puppies*?!??
That is all for tonight’s rants. Comments? Additional thoughts?
ETA: Check the comments below for a rather decent response from the article’s author!
*And, apparently, wearing too much makeup. Not even sure where to go with that one. Is it a mark against anyone who identifies as goth/emo/counter-culture? A slut-shaming point against women who dare to move beyond an “appropriate” level of face-painting? What??