I am in the middle of a Sookie Stackhouse book at the moment. It's the first one in the series I've read in about a year. I am actually enjoying it. I didn't like the last one I read. I was in the middle of reading this book the other day when Sookie made a comment that surprised me and made me think long and hard about something.
She said that she was on the heavier side of what was considered an acceptable weight (a size 8) and that her friend Arlene had said once that she thought anything about a size 8 was disgusting. Now as a curvy girl currently bouncing between a size 12 and a size 16 (Yes. You heard me right) this made me feel like crap about myself.
I thought to myself "Is this what the author really thinks?" and "Is it right for the author to have her characters say something that fatophobic?" and then I realized that just because Sookie made that comment does not mean it is the view of the author.
I've talked about this topic in university. People need to understand that a character in a book is a different person from the author writing the book. In my first year of university we talked about a passage we read in a book and discussed if the author might be racist for how they portrayed a black character. Most people thought the author probably was. This irritated me. Its wrong to make assumptions like that. I've written some deeply flawed characters. My characters are NOT an extension of me. I am the thing that brings them to life but they really do develop on their own. I have no control over it. If a character of mine turns out to be a racist that doesn't mean I am. People need to remember that.
So once I remembered about that class I took in university I was all right with that line of dialogue in the Sookie Stackhouse book. I did not agree with Sookie's opinion about what was an acceptable weight. It did make me feel bad about myself. Imagine reading a book though filled with politically correct characters. How boring! How tame! Characters should be flawed. They should sometimes say stupid, cringe worthy things. I know I do all the time! It makes them more realistic because it shows that they are not perfect. Sometimes I can be unintentionally racist or say something so dumb that it will have my partner in hysterics. I said something so stupid to him the other week he laughed at me for about ten minutes!
Writers should not be afraid to have their character's say bad things. And I, as a reader, should not take them so much to heart. They are, after all, just characters in a book.