Eleanor & Park | Is Eleanor Fat?

based on the books by Rainbow Rowell
‘She never looked nice. She looked like art, and art wasn’t supposed to look nice; it was supposed to make you feel something.’ Rainbow Rowell, Eleanor & Park

Eleanor is fat.
Eleanor also thinks she’s fat.
She probably isn’t as fat as she thinks she is …
And she definitely isn’t as disgusting as she thinks she is. She isn’t disgusting at all.
This question — Eleanor isn’t really fat, is she? — comes up fairly regularly for me. And sometimes (not always!), I feel like people expect me to reassure them:
“Don’t worry. Eleanor isn’t really fat. You weren’t imagining a fat person making out in the back of a car; that would be gross. She’s actually just curvy. Like Marilyn Monroe. Or Jennifer Love Hewitt.”
I don’t say in the book (Eleanor & Park) with any narrative authority exactly how fat Eleanor is, though many of the characters say what they think …
Eleanor sees herself as huge and repulsive. The kids in the neighborhood call her “Big Red,” which makes Park’s dad expect her to be bigger. Park is embarrassed by Eleanor for all sorts of reasons, and gives us the clearest physical description of her body:
Why hadn’t he expected her to be so beautiful? To have so much negative space? He closed his eyes and saw her again. A stack of freckled heart-shapes, a perfectly made Dairy Queen ice cream cone. Like Betty Boop drawn with a heavy hand.
But none of that answers the how fat question.
And that’s because I don’t think it’s important. I know how I picture Eleanor — but I don’t care how you picture Eleanor. And I think drawing a line between “sort of fat, but only by 21st-Century American standards” and “really, really fat” is depressing.
I mean, who I am to draw that line? Who are you? And where do we start?
Park thinks Eleanor is beautiful. He loves her for who she is on the inside, and he loves her for who she is on the outside. He wants to kiss her. He wants to have sex with her. And it isn’t because he’s brave and deep — it’s because he’s attracted to her.
This is how attraction works.
Is Eleanor fat? Yes.
How fat? That’s up to you.
Does it matter?

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7 thoughts on “Eleanor & Park | Is Eleanor Fat?

  1. sunesiss says:

    aww thank you so much! so the reblogged version on poetry and chocolate and books blog and i had to come here to tell you thank you. I recently finished university and looking for what next and in the process gained some weight. form 45kg to 64kg.
    everyone saying how fat i have become and how i need to quickly loose it and such. i do want to loose it but just a bit. i have come to like my curves minus the flabs lol. this story has been a comfort. so thank you!

    Like

  2. Josephine says:

    I love this so much! I don’t think its really an issue of how fat Eleanor is. She may not even be ‘fat’ compared to society’s standard, or she may be fatter than society’s standards. And as you said, who the heck cares?!
    Its honestly all about the actual perception of the person in terms of themselves and from the perspectives of others. Eleanor sees herself this way, because she’s insecure and she has always had a hard family life whilst on the other hand, Park sees her as beautiful and of course, there is Park’s dad who expects her to be bigger. It’s all about perspective when it comes to this issue. xoxo

    Like

  3. poetry and chocolate and books says:

    This is so perfect. Really, it doesn’t matter. I have a real life Elearnor and Park in my life. My best friend and her bf. They are together for like last 9 years and finally getting married next year. 😀
    Park was mad about her, because how she made him feel, how comfortable he eas with her, how easy it was to talk to her, they shared similar interests and they enjoyed each other’s company. He did not measure his love for her looks but for how her heart was.
    It’s my all times fav love story with a bitter sweet end. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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