Plus-bodied representation in the media has changed since I was a child. More notably, the narratives surrounding them have evolved significantly. Gone are the days when plus-size characters served merely as comic reliefs or secondary figures. Modern media showcases them as protagonists, love interests, and leaders.
For plus-size viewers, this shift holds profound significance. Seeing characters that reflect their experiences and challenges fosters a sense of belonging. They’re no longer mere observers but see themselves represented holistically on screen. Shows like “Survival of the Thickest” and “Insecure” present multi-dimensional characters embodying diverse roles that mirror real-life complexity. Furthermore, these characters redefine beauty standards. They affirm that worth isn’t size-exclusive by showcasing their confidence, aspirations, and vulnerabilities.
Here’s a list of the top plus-size characters that made me feel like a badass as a Black, fat woman in today’s world.
5 Plus-Size Characters
Mercedes Jones (Glee)
You will always be the main character when you are the vocal powerhouse that was Mercedes Jones. Despite how “Glee” writers didn’t always evenly distribute the spotlight amongst the cast, Amber Riley made that character so special for so many. If you were a true “Gleek,” then you know there were times Mercedes had to prove herself more than she should have but once she sang, her presence could not be ignored.
Khadijah James (Living Single)
If you were a plus-size Black girl in the ’90s, then you were more than likely watching “Living Single.” And Khadijah James was THAT GIRL! She was bold, confident, an HBCU graduate, managed Flavor Magazine, and had some of the best love interests for a plus-size character. Khadijah taught us plus-size girlies that we were desirable and didn’t have to change to be seen as such. She was everything I wanted to be when I grew up.
Raven Baxter (That’s So Raven)
Raven Baxter was the vivacious protagonist of Disney’s “That’s So Raven.” She was an iconic character in early 2000s television, especially for plus-size viewers. While Raven had her share of humorous moments, her character wasn’t restricted to the clichéd “funny plus-size friend.” Her rich, varied stories touched on family, friendship, school, and her unique psychic abilities. Not to mention she was so stylish! During that time the fashions weren’t too friendly for plus-size bodies, but Raven showed that you could be the most fashionable in the room regardless of your size.
Mavis Beaumont (Survival of the Thickest)
Mavis Beaumont will always hold a special place in my heart. Her character was multidimensional in every episode. She was beautiful, funny, and raw. She was never the butt of jokes. Mavis was an inspiring fashion stylist who aimed to make all women feel beautiful and seen, and she did exactly that. Also, just like Khadijah James, Mavis had some cuties chasing her.
Ursula (The Little Mermaid)
More and more, I understand Ursula’s plight in “The Little Mermaid.” Yes, she’s a villain in an animated film but she is a great plus-size representation! Ursula is a pariah in King Triton’s kingdom, and although she is feared and ostracized, she is ambitious and bold. She is unapologetic in all things—size, determination, and grudges. Villain or not, her presence taught young girls size doesn’t stop your power. TAKE UP SPACE!