A Person First, and Overweight Second: Body Image in Doctorow’s “In Real Life”

Diversity in literature (or movies) is about more than race and gender — body image is an important topic to discuss.

The following is an article on body image I wrote for Pop Culture Uncovered. Check it out!

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Pop Culture Uncovered

In Real Life is a graphic novel based on Cory Doctorow’s short story “Anda’s Game,” initially published as part of his 2007 collection Overclocked. It was supposedly inspired by a true story in which a Mexican man announced at a conference that he paid players to amass virtual wealth that he could then sell to Western players.

However, we’re not here to talk about economics or even MMORPGs. We’re here to talk about body image – and both versions’ vastly different approaches to it.

Though a number of things differ between the short story and its comic adaption, two major things remain the same: one, Anda is a young gamer who joins an all-girls MMORPG clan called the Fahrenheits, and two, Anda is overweight.

In the short story, Anda’s weight struggles are a key plot point: she’s medicated for a skin condition called Acanthosis Nigricans which often precedes obesity-related diabetes. She…

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Women in Action Comics

I’ve always loved comic books. In my early teens, I read only manga (a.k.a. Japanese comic books). Recently, I’ve spent a lot of time rereading and reviewing them on Goodreads, and I’ve noticed a weird trend. 

It sucks to be a woman in shonen manga.

“Shonen” is a genre of Japanese comic books with plots such as sports, sci-fi, fantasy, action/adventure, etc., featuring male leads. It’s usually marketed to boys, much like the US’s action genre.

So what’s the issue? Having a male lead isn’t a problem, though ideally, the spread between male and female leads in action series should be more even.

The trouble is that female characters get sidelined. Continue reading