Where Do People of Size ‘Fit’ In The Horror Genre?

Over the last decade or so, we’ve seen the horror genre expand in its themes, stories, and even character diversity. But like many audiences with marginalized identities, we know that there’s only been a fraction of fulfilling representation in media overall, let alone horror. This can be said for the lack of body diversity present in horror films.  I won’t be satisfied with horror films that have fat characters until they’re actually for fat audiences. And not just a substitute hand out masking as inclusion. I’ve got some critiques on some patterns and tropes I’ve seen over time: 

Character Identities Are Way Too Narrow

I love a good creep, that’s why I’m a horror fan. But we are still perpetuating society’s bias onto a character. Creepy girl horror is my favorite, but thin women get to have more complex flaws that do not seem afforded to fat characters. I think of the film, New Year New Me [2018], where the designated fat friend is mega horny and her plot point is that she can’t get laid because of her size.  It’s not only static, but as we know, is extremely inaccurate.  With Martha from Baby Reindeer [2024] as the newest installment, we have ten different versions of the same kind of horny creep for fat characters. 

While times have changed for the straight sized final girl characters in particular, there was a point in time where the multiple waves of feminism bled into the horror genre. It taught us that women are no longer victims. They are strong, resilient, and even sometimes evil villains. So that leaves me wondering, can we extend that to fat women characters, too? 

Fat Characters Are Side Characters, Even in Their Own Stories

I think of Piggy [2022] for  this. I loved this film, well written, acted, produced, 10/10. This film brutally showcases the abuse fat people are victims of and its thought provoking question of, if put in the same situation, would you help your abuser

But it’s undeniable that our main character may not necessarily be a protagonist in her own film. What exactly are her needs or wants in this film? Who (or what), besides fatphobia, is her real antagonist? She’s not exactly an anti hero and she’s not the monster. So what is she, if not the minor character to the bigger picture? She is merely a witness to Claudia and Maca’s terror and a supporting role to the kidnapper. Her character still brings value to the genre. Seeing a big bodied person on screen being physical, having gray morality, and in the very last moments saving Claudia and Maca, further perpetuates that a marginalized person will always choose the higher road. This character is complicated, but not definitive. Fat characters can have their complexities hit harder in either direction of the morality spectrum, not just floating in the wind.

The Solution Seems to Be, to “Ignore Fatness Altogether…”

This is not necessarily true! I think horror is the perfect place to dive into the politics of body terrorism in the form of body horror. Survivors of sizeism know that fatphobia and desirability politics color their experience of everyday life. And in media, this would affect how a protagonist would respond when confronted with terror. 

As a horror lover, baddie, and fattie, I don’t think we have to ignore size. We can focus on fat bodies and characters in horror in a much more expansive spectrum of storytelling. But I think in order to do that properly, we need more body diversity in production. We need more fat writers, producers, directors, actors, crew, who have navigated life and/or horrors through the lens of an unconventional body.   

Read more work by Palmira Muniz here.