Stephen King hates fat people.
Like all fat people, but especially fat women, I have to accept that most of the creators I admire and respect have intractable issues with my body. They feel perfectly entitled to use it as a joke, or as the site of horror and degradation, or a proof of failure, or a metaphor for avarice, sexlessness, and/or evil. I must also prepare myself for interactions where my body is in danger (hospitals, doctors offices, interactions with the law) for the derision and devaluation my body will be afforded, because that hatred seeps through fiction to fact, from joke into policy, and is obvious at every level of public interaction.
The tropes of fat hatred are so deeply embedded in our culture as to be some of the lowest hanging fruit, suitable for the laziest writers looking for the simplest shorthand and not caring whose caricature they are painting for the thousandth unoriginal time. King, one of the most influential and widely read American authors of all time, should be better than this, but he isn’t. He has presented fat bodies in a hateful, derisive light for four decades, and he has not learned to do better in all that time. It’s not one character, in one book. It is his pattern.
Let’s examine the evidence of King’s campaign of fat hatred.
Meg Elison is a San Francisco Bay Area author. Her debut novel, The Book of the Unnamed Midwife won the 2014 Philip K. Dick Award and was a Tiptree longlist mention that same year. It was reissued in 2016 and was on the Best of the Year lists from Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, PBS, and more. Her second novel was also a finalist for the Philip K. Dick Award. Elison was the spring 2019 Clayton B. Ofstad endowed distinguished writer-in-residence at Truman State University, and is a coproducer of the monthly reading series Cliterary Salon.