The Appeal of the Plus-Sized Heroine

By J.C. Wilder

It used to be, back when I started reading romances in the late seventies, that the typical heroine was blonde, eighteen years old, English, and a size four. Luckily for us, romances have come a long way since then. Nowadays you can find heroines who range from a size two to a twenty-two, from a variety of countries or even off the planet! Today's romance heroine bears very little resemblance to the heroine of twenty-five years ago, especially when it comes to dress size.

So what is the appeal of the plus-sized heroine? Is it due to the fact that the average American woman is now a size sixteen? The print media certainly hasn't caught onto this trend as fashion models are still rail thin and look in dire need of a sandwich.

Is it because the modern woman is a little more interested in interacting with her family than they are in creating the perfect hard body? Marilyn Monroe, one of the most enduring images of sensuality in history, was a size 14/16 so it should be no surprise to anyone that the plus-sized heroine is here to stay. In my quest to find some answers I asked some writer friends, 'What is the appeal of the plus-sized heroine' and this is what they had to say:

She's much more REAL. In my case, soooo many women identified with the heroine I wrote, and even a few men sent me letters saying they really appreciate a woman with meat on her bones. ;-) Not being physically perfect, NOT being a Barbie doll, makes her human instead of a character. - Lori Foster, TOO MUCH TEMPTATION

I'm a 39-year-old woman with a large circle of friends, and very few of us are the body type described in the traditional romance novel; yet the majority of us are happily married, with husbands who find us quite attractive, thank you very much! - Rachel Bo, SYMPHONY IN RAPTURE

The allure of a plus-sized heroine for me is that she makes me feel that I, as a normal, imperfect woman, am worthy of the love of a great hero. Whether we are plus sized or have some other imperfection, we are still lovable and can find our soul mate and have a great love story. - Ashley Ladd, AMERICAN BEAUTY

(Readers)…want real, "life size" women who are finding love and having great sex. Women who are enjoying their sexuality and feeling good about themselves no matter what their size. It's the reality of their lives. - Doreen DeSalvo, FOR THE LOVE OF RIGAH

The plus-sized heroine is a real woman, someone most of us can relate to. She's beautiful inside and out and the hero adores her for who she is. There's also the appeal of the confident take-charge woman who doesn't give a damn if she's plus-sized. She's who she is and she's happy and confident with herself. - Cheyenne McCray, KING OF CLUBS

Men love women who are curvy and cushioned. Ask a man and he will tell you that he loves butts -- all kinds of butts -- but round ones with some flesh will win hands down every time. - Monette Michaels, GREEN FIRE

To me it is the ultimate fantasy I can relate to. I want the man with the perfect body, perfect looks, perfect everything to choose me (the plus-sized heroine) over the women with the perfect figure. Because every woman, whether plus-sized or not, wants to find the man who sees past her looks to the real person she is inside, and for the hero to fall in love with that person. These stories showcase that desire. - Ashleigh Raine, LOVER'S TALISMAN

A number of men personally who prefer BBW because they want a woman they can "hold onto", (their words, not mine.) I think for readers, the allure is that many of the women who read romance novels are full-figured and they want to read about heroines with whom they can identify. - Marilyn Lee, THE FALL OF TROY

Since we all come in different sizes, shapes, and colors, I think our books should reflect the diversity out there. - Delilah Devlin, MY IMMORTAL KNIGHT: LOVE BITES

I like reading about heroines who aren't insecure about their normal to plus-size figures. I like a hero who can look at a skinny woman and think "hmmm, nice" but look at a curvy woman and not be able to think at all. - Carolan Ivey, BEAUDRY'S GHOST


J.C. Wilder is an award-winning, multi-published author who also writes as Dominique Adair. Her latest release, BLOOD LAW is available from and you can visit her website at

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