WHO SAYS BIG ISN’T BEAUTIFUL?
Here’s a SAD fact. I went looking for a prototype of the formidable Sarah Jane Farquhar, the protagonist’s BFF in my debut novel THE WISDOM OF HAIR and couldn’t find one. I put “blond plus sized woman” in the search engine and then “big beautiful woman” and a bunch of other combinations of these two trying to find SJF. What I got from thousands of clip art pics were photos of skinny, very pregnant women, unattractive grossly obese women, but no Sarah Jane Farquhar. I settled for this woman, who really ISN’T SJF in real life, and ask that you picture her forty or so pounds heavier.
Believe it or not, I had this same discussion with my editor, when Sara Jane was originally 80-90 pounds overweight. Leis, who is the size of a number two pencil suggested, “let’s make her 20-30 pounds overweight. Eighty or ninety pounds is just too much.” I asked her to picture a taller, drop dead gorgeous Melissa McCarthy, when that didn’t work, I negotiated and sadly, I settled for Sara Jane being 50-60 pounds overweight.
So why is this so sad? The fact is SJF is physically based on a wonderful woman I knew when I was a kid, Vaughn Hannah, who was so beautiful inside and out, she made your forget her size.
Miss Vaughn owned a salon; her hair and makeup were always perfect, and when she wasn’t wearing her uniform, she was always impeccably dressed. I loved her for a lot of reasons but mostly because she’d let me brush out her perfectly coiffed French twist, put makeup on her and then tissue it off with Merle Norman cold cream.
I think it would be really hard for Miss Vaughn, who was every bit as formidable as Sara Jane Farquhar, to thrive in the world today. We live in a time where size matters, where big isn’t considered beautiful. BUT that’s what I love about SJF, she transcends her size.
I was on a women’s fiction panel recently and was asked which character in The Wisdom of Hair was the most fun to write. Hands down, the answer is Sara Jane and I shared the story about the weight negotiation with my editor. There happened to be a man from NY in the crowd who runs a charity called for women with diabetes called Divabetic whose mantra I absolutely adore. GLAM MORE, FEAR LESS.
Max Szadek was thrilled to hear the story of my fight to keep Sara Jane big and beautiful. In his words, “You had me at Sara Jane Farquhar.” I’m not saying we should all gain a ton of weight, and neither is Divabetic. What we are saying is there ARE beautiful BIG women out there and it’s time we gave them their due.
By the way, check out my podcast interview on Divabetics from June 25, the link in below. I was on with Max and renown chef, Robert Lewis, aka The Happy Diabetic. It was great fun.