Those of you who read my blog probably have no idea what I look like, but I’m a plus-sized woman. And to top it off, I’m one of those plus-sized women who has embraced the word “fat.” I am fat, I have fat, and that’s just the way it is. That’s why I was so excited to get the chance to read One To Watch by Kate Stayman-London. We were finally getting a plus-sized protagonist (and a love story!) written by a plus-sized lady, and I was so looking forward to getting to read about someone who finally looked like me—and had a great attitude about it.
Bea Schumacher is a devastatingly stylish plus-size fashion blogger who has amazing friends, a devoted family, legions of Insta followers–and a massively broken heart. Like the rest of America, Bea indulges in her weekly obsession: the hit reality show Main Squeeze. The fantasy dates! The kiss-off rejections! The surprising amount of guys named Chad! But Bea is sick and tired of the lack of body diversity on the show. Since when is being a size zero a prerequisite for getting engaged on television?
Just when Bea has sworn off dating altogether, she gets an intriguing call: Main Squeeze wants her to be its next star, surrounded by men vying for her affections. Bea agrees, on one condition–under no circumstances will she actually fall in love. She’s in this to supercharge her career, subvert harmful anti-fat beauty standards, inspire women across America, and get a free hot air balloon ride. That’s it.
But when the cameras start rolling, Bea realizes things are more complicated than she anticipated. She’s in a whirlwind of sumptuous couture, Internet culture wars, sexy suitors, and an opportunity (or two, or five) to find messy, real-life love in the midst of a made-for-TV fairy tale.
This was such fun! I don’t watch The Bachelor franchise anymore because I find it so problematic, but if they brought on a legitimate plus-size woman, I would definitely give it another try. As a person who is a size 18/20, though one with considerably less fashion sense, I related so hardcore to Bea and all of her inner thoughts and fears when it came to dating. Her suitors were fun to get to know, and I fell in love with them right there with her.
I do feel like I didn’t understand her relationship with Ray enough to feel like she should give him the time of day, and I wish that she stated her size at some point in the book. All she said was that she was “medium fat.” But those are relatively minor criticisms… I loved it! More fat, loveable protagonists, please!
“I’ve told myself for so many years that I’m afraid of men rejecting me for the way I look, of them refusing to look past my size. But I was wrong—I don’t need a man to look past my size. I need someone who’ll see me and love me exactly as I am.”—Kate Stayman-London, One To Watch
Thank you to NetGalley, Dial Press and Random House for the advanced copy, and to Allef Vinicius on Unsplash for the featured photo.