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I am aware that there are lots of different ways to do this. I'm being subtle about it thus far. Our standards of beauty are skinny but with an ample bosom here in the US for the most part. The women thought beautiful in the other culture are mainly what we would call overweight. I am not saying that anyone overweight can't be beautiful, I just want to convey that the cultural standard differs from our own, without pointing out that it's weird in any way. It's normal for that culture, and I want to convey this well. Any tips or books (fiction or non) I should be reading? I've just read Pierced by the Sun, and though the MC doesn't follow the standard of beauty for the US, I don't like her.

EDIT: Hey guys, do also include any fiction or non-fiction that I should be reading which might help with this. Fiction is more desirable. I want to see some literary examples. Tips have been great so far!

  • "Our standards of beauty are skinny" <=/=> ""The women thought beautiful are ... overweight" You are contradicting yourself here. Either skinny is beautiful or overweight is beautiful. Maybe you want to go over your question and make it more comprehensible? – user5645 Aug 12 '16 at 6:04
  • Go into ethnographic texts. There are (or were) cultures in which fat bodies where thought either beautiful or admirable. I remember one Pacific island culture that thought a fat body represented wealth and power, as being fat would prevent you from doing most work and only a powerful and wealthy person could afford to have others work for them. – user5645 Aug 12 '16 at 6:08
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    @Erin Thursby, I have inserted the words "in the other culture" to the fourth sentence. Without them that sentence seems to contradict the one before it, as "what" has observed. If I am mistaken please feel free to undo my edit. – Lostinfrance Aug 12 '16 at 9:24
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    I have edited my answer to include some fiction recommendations. – Chris Sunami supports Monica Aug 15 '16 at 14:44

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I think this is very much a matter of the overall narrative style of the work. Some narrative styles will give you great liberty to do this, some will make it very difficult or forced. The question then becomes, do you choose a narrative style that makes it easy to deal with your subject matter in the way you want to, or do you hobble yourself with a style that does not work for what you want to do.

The show-don't-tell style that is so popular among aspiring writers today, forces you to do almost all exposition through physical action or naturalistic conversation. It does not work well for this kind of thing because a culture's standards of beauty are largely assumed in polite converation. A conversation in which people list of the attributes they find attractive in someone will tend to portray them as boorish or creepy, which may not be what you want at all.

If you are willing to adopt a more narrative style in which the writer is allowed to say things to the reader in their own voice, then you can tell the reader, for instance, that such and such a character was considered very beautiful because she had sharp elbows and crooked nose, and that establishes that those features are the marks of beauty in that culture. Jane Austen is a great exemplar of this narrative style.

If you are willing to adopt what we might call the storyteller style, you can address it even more directly, and say, "in those days" or "in that country, the standards of beauty were very different from our own." There is a lot of this style to be found in Kipling.

Or you can use a narrative frame (as Conrad does in Heart of Darkness) where the story is told by a character to an audience, and can explain things to that audience. Naturally here you portray an audience and a narrator that fits the kind of thing you want to get across. So choose an audience who would want to hear and a narrator who would want to comment on different standards of beauty.

Whatever you choose, though, is likely to be a choice for the whole work. You probably can't get away with dropping into a different style for one scene just to get this point across. It is difficult to change narrative styles in the middle, though Melville does it to great effect in Moby Dick. But it is entirely appropriate to choose a narrative style that gives you the liberty to deal with the issues you want to deal with in a work.

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    Yeah, I've read a lot of Kipling, and specifically want to avoid that style, or Conrad's . I've also avoided listing the attributes specifically because of the creep factor. What I have done is described someone as plump through the eyes of one character, and had her referred to as pretty by another from the culture. I'll pick some Austen again, think that might fit better. – Erin Thursby Aug 12 '16 at 4:10
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The most natural way to do this is just to have characters from the culture, in the story, comment on the traits of someone they find beautiful. People often do this in real life, so it shouldn't be too hard to do this subtly.

If you really want the culture to feel fully realized, however, you might think about the entire range of differences that surround the different beauty standard. I would imagine a culture that celebrates thinness as being more ascetic and goal focused, and one that celebrates a heavier body type as being more sensual and pleasure focused. Compare these two real life quotes from different sub-cultures. "I hate her, she's so skinny!" (one woman envious of another in a thin-oriented culture). "Man, she thick as hell!" (a man boasting to a friend about the attractive heft of a woman in a buxom-oriented culture).

I believe thin-orientation is more common in the societies where food is plentiful and obesity is common, heavy-orientation is more common in places where food is scarce, something you might want to consider. You also want to think about about perjorative terms being reversed. For instance, your culture wouldn't use the term "overweight" because that implies being heavier is wrong. Conversely, they might say "scrawny" instead of "skinny." The subgenre of African-American romance novels is a good place to find fiction from a sub-culture with a tendency to be oriented towards heavier body types. Alexander McCall Smith's well-known Number 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, set in Botswana, might be another good place to look.

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    +1 for great ideas, @Chis. Interesting how you see the thin-subculture as female and the buxom-subculture as male. See my last comment to my own answer. And I find your suggestion of using judgmental terms ("scrawny", "sensual") very valuable and would recommend it also. – user5645 Aug 12 '16 at 20:46
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There are a lot of great answers here already, but I wanted to chime in with something that I felt was missing.

If you want to show (not tell, as alluded to earlier in the Conrad / Kipling discussion) that a culture has a different beauty standard, then that different standard should be represented in their cultural media.

You mention in your post what the standard of beauty is in the US -- how did you arrive at that conception of what the standard of beauty is? Are people constantly talking about what is beautiful to them? Or, more likely, are people who match up with the standard of beauty more represented in media than people who don't? Wouldn't this be the same in the society you're writing about?

Whatever means of cultural transmission the society you're thinking about uses, the standard of beauty will be represented in them. Paintings will feature people that meet the standard, professional or popular actors and dancers will exemplify the beauty standard, even bathroom signs might subtly reflect what that society expects people to look like.

Have fun with it -- try to notice what everyday things subtly (and not-so-subtly) reinforce the beauty standards you've grown up with, and try to think of what would be analogous to those reinforcements in the society you're writing about.

Overall, don't forget that while the characters in your story can represent and indicate the beauty standards of cultures, so can the objects.

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One way to go about this would be to have the narrator and/or another character describe or comment on the character's looks in a positive way. If it's important to you to contrast this culture's standards of beauty with those in the U.S., I think that's best done through the words of a character.

I think you can also play around with emotional and psychological cues. I'm reading a Jane Smiley novel right now in which one of the most physically attractive characters is a narcissist and a disengaged parent, and another character is described as plain but is at the emotional center of many of the relationships in the book because she is warm and funny and empathetic. Your narrator can filter and shape what your readers know and think about your characters.

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There are at least three ways to do this:

  1. Explain it in narration. This could be direct and blunt, like, "In this culture, unlike our own, to be considered beautiful a woman had to be a little plump." I suspect it would work better if done a little more subtly, like, "Fwacnia was considered very beautiful and had many men chasing after her. In our culture she might be considered overweight, but by Ruritanian standards she was just about perfect."

  2. Have the characters discuss their standards of beauty. "'You know,' Rothnar said, 'I really like a woman with a little meat on her.' 'Yes,' Bragniss agreed, 'Skinny women just look too unhealthy to me.'" This has the danger of making the men involved seem overly ... objectifying? judgmental? I'm sure it can work if done well. There's also the problem that it can fall into the "as you know dialog" trap: characters sitting around telling each other things that they all know, not to inform each other, but to inform the reader who they are not supposed to know exists. Personally it always throws me off when characters start telling each other, "As you know, your father owns a shoe store", or "As you know, since the Martians invaded Earth two years ago we have been living under their domination." Why would people tell each other things that they all know?

  3. Have a character from another culture discuss standards of beauty with the locals. This should have less of the "sexist jerk" problem, as there's then good reason for all involved to view it as an interesting philosophical discussion. Toss in a few sentences of speculation about how different standards came to be and it could be made to sound not weird at all.

Trying to do this with a pure "show don't tell" approach seems to me to be very difficult. Yes, you could say in chapter 1 that Sally weights 180 pounds, and then in chapter 3 talk about Sally winning a beauty contest. But without some explanation, that's likely to just be confusing. An American reader might well be forgiven for wondering, "Did she lose weight? Is there something about how she carries herself that makes men think she's beautiful despite her weight? Did she win the contest because it's not really about physical beauty at all but that the judges were impressed with her grace or musical talent or something?" Etc. I'd think you'd have to include at least a sentence or two explaining the different standard somewhere.

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    I'm not going to explicitly point out that it's different as n #1. If I'm writing fantasy (which I am) mentioning the current cultural standard in the modern US would be quite jarring. I'm not going to mention there is a different standard, as in #3, because, again, fantasy, and it is normal to them. #2 I am trying to avoid, because it's...a little squicky. Just going to have to have female characters worry about losing weight, like girls here worry about gaining it. It's a common conversation, I'll just flip the script. – Erin Thursby Aug 15 '16 at 5:39
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    RE Ok, I didn't catch that this is set in an alternate world where the U.S. does not exist. Still, #1, you could still say in narration, "In our world ..." Or just not make a contrast to anything. Just say, "To be considered beautiful, a woman should ..." #3 could be made to work if you can have multiple cultures in your fantasy world with different standards. It should be easy enough to make the different standards clear once the characters start talking, without someone having to reference the (non-existent) U.S. And yes, having a female character talk about her own weight is a 4th idea. – Jay Aug 15 '16 at 13:32
  • I wasn't clear about that, not your fault! – Erin Thursby Aug 15 '16 at 14:46
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So if you want to create a culture in which overweight bodies are perceived as beautiful, you really don't have to be too subtle, because no matter how subtle or unsubtle you are, only the readers that share that ideal will be attracted by that book, while all others will find it uninteresting or irritating.

While the post I quote has many valid points I am not sure that the passage above works for each and every scenario. The subtlety of your depiction of the said cultural standard depends largely on how important it is for your story.

If your world being full of fat beautiful women is one of the many aspects of the culture you are building, you can just brush upon that here and there, describing different characters--through the narrator's or other character's perception--and using positive wording to convey the person's reaction to the certain features, like 'smooth curves of her ample body', 'magnificent breasts', etc., and let the reader's imagination fill in the blanks without much risk of irritating or distancing them.

However, if your main character struggles with the fact that she is way too thin and considers herself ugly because of that and her internal conflict is what drives your story, then, by all means, go full throttle. You still may consider employing a targeted mixture of positive and negative epithets when she enviously measures herself up against her peers, who are beautiful, and 'my elbows are bony', 'oh, I have a gap between my thighs--it is repulsive', etc.

What I am trying to say is that for as long as you are not trying to blantly expose your reader to the rather alien to our culture idea that 'flapping folds of fat' are a pinnacle of physical attractiveness, you might have a better chance to reliably suspend disbelief.

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The trick that most novels use is not to describe what is thought beautiful in that world. In most novels, when a character is supposed to be beautiful, this is simply stated, and it is up to the reader to imagine what that person looks like. In fact, in most novels you have no idea what skin color, body height, or wheight the protagonists have. I like this approach, because it allows anyone to project their own ideas of beauty into their reading and come out satisfied.

Only when physical characteristics play a role in the story, is it necessary to describe them in more detail. Otherwise I would abstain from physical descriptions, as they stifle the imagination of the reader and limit the novel's applicability.

If you want to explicitly define a beauty ideal different than the one prevalent in your culture, this will always lead to friction. I remember reading a book about some non-human characters, and one character was seen as beautiful by another and the aspects of their beauty were described. I remember clearly how I thought that fur is not something I find erotic on a person and how I could not follow the character in their emotions, so I finally dropped that book.

You will cause a similar effect. If you explicitly describe overweight bodies as beautiful, no matter how subtle, there will be a point at which those that don't share that beauty ideal will drop out, or at least take a distance and start reading differently: no longer involved, but more like reading a documentary.

I guess that overweight persons have a similar experience when they read of a thin ideal, so there is a choice you have to make: when you promote non-standard ideals, you will lose readers that do not subscribe to this ideal; when you promote standard ideals, you will lose readers that have other ideals; when you promote no beauty ideals at all, all readers can follow you, but beauty ideals are no longer a topic of your book.

So if you want to create a culture in which overweight bodies are perceived as beautiful, you really don't have to be too subtle, because no matter how subtle or unsubtle you are, only the readers that share that ideal will be attracted by that book, while all others will find it uninteresting or irritating.

So don't focus your attention on the subtleness, but rather focus your attention on conveying that culture well. For that, just get into your characters and look at their world through their eyes. How would they describe it? Use their words. It is all about understanding your characters well, and the challenge is not to tell them from your own, outsider eyes.


But if you want to convincingly show a culture-wide beauty ideal that differs from what is healthy and vigorous, you will have a problem. People do not simply think something beautiful because it is beautiful. Beauty always signifies something for them.

For example, a certain facial shape appears attractive to a person because it signifies a certain personality. A look (hair style, clothing) appears beautiful because it signifies a lifestyle that we find attractive. And so on. In US-mainstream culture, physical beauty is what signifies youth, health and physical power. There are subcultures where men fatten their wives because they like fat bodies, but for a person from the cultural center another person appears beautiful because they appear vigorous and healthy.

So if you have a culture where the majority find overweight bodies beautiful, a person of that culture will think of and feel the reasons for this beauty ideal.

Think of US culture. The average man looking at the average beautiful woman will not just think: "She is beautiful." He will think: "Oh my god, her skin is so smooth [= healthy], her waist is so thin [= vigorous], etc." So in an overweight-loving culture, you'll have to argue for your ideal in a similar way. A person of that culture looking at another person will have to think of what being overweight signifies for them, and since it is not a fringe subculture (such as the fattening subcultrue in America today), those arguments have to be such that a whole culture can endorse them. And that is difficult, as being overweight is unhealthy (scientifically proven fact) and limits the physical ability of the individual (they cannot run so fast, jump so high, stand for so long, etc.), so you'll have to be very creative in finding a convincing mechanism that lead a whole culture to that ideal.

In the polynesian culture that I mentioned in my comment to your question, the ideal of being fat was limited to the upper class. It was not something thought beautiful, but something thought aristocratic. Being fat was a luxury that only very few could afford, so it signified power and wealth. It was not an idea that every member of the culture tried to aspire to, but more like a crown: a symbol of a social position.

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    I must say that whenever I've read a SF or fantasy novel in which non-humans had different standards of beauty to human standards, far from making me want to drop the book it made me admire the author's wordbuilding. Unusually for your posts, I think you are mistaken when you say "only the readers that share that ideal will be attracted by that book" - I think that many readers who don't share it at all will be interested by a good description of a character different to them. One of the attractions of fiction is that it allows you to experience difference. – Lostinfrance Aug 12 '16 at 9:38
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    @Lostinfrance I guess you are right for some part of the readership, but other readers (like myself) read to find self-affirmation and not be irritated :-) Readers are different, and Erin Thursby must decide which kind of reader she wants to write for. But your objection is valid and I'm glad you raised it. – user5645 Aug 12 '16 at 9:48
  • Actually, it depends on how much overweight you are, as to whether it's unhealthy. If you become seriously ill, your chances of survival actually go up if you are overweight by a little, and go down if you are right on target or underweight. Yes, the upper classes in my story are not slender. Weight shows wealth in this culture. – Erin Thursby Aug 12 '16 at 18:31
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    @ErinThursby The beauty ideals that have been shaped in the course of evolution aren't as accurate and fine tuned as that. Looking healthy is not the same as being healthy, of course, but prejudices are the best guess that an individual choosing a partner can make. Only very few people find the results from a physical more attractive than body shape. It's like women who on average like to choose men with high status. High status does not make them nice or good fathers or anything, and yet it means "provider" and appears sexy. Attraction is not logical, and beauty ideals aren't either. – user5645 Aug 12 '16 at 20:33
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    But then there are different female beauty ideals among men and women. Men seem to prefer women who are healthy, while women, currently, appear to prefer women who are more on the thin side (think of the "sick look" popular in fashion photos). Look at women's magazines, and then look at men's magazines. They show different types of women. Maybe our different perspective on this has to do with you being a woman (if I'm not mistaken) and thinking about how women look at women, while I'm a man and most men like women that are either muscular-slim ("toned") or slightly overweight ("chubby"). – user5645 Aug 12 '16 at 20:39
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Does the story you're writing center around this idea of the concept of what is beautiful being different from what the current Western standard of beauty is? Or is this just window dressing and world building?

If it's just background for the story, then treat it that way. Mention it casually, and incorporate it in as you would hover car or faster than light travel. It's there, and it belongs as naturally as trees belong in a forest and glass belongs in high rise buildings. Say the girl is beautiful and has deliciously chubby fingers, or whatever, and leave it at that.

It doesn't have to be a big deal. It's a given - this is what people think in the culture of your story.

And the idea that you're going to lose readers just because of some small element of world building is nuts. You might lose readers if your plot has holes in it, or if your writing is poor, but not for something like this.

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  • It's background, not a main piece. I'm not worried about losing readers b/c of it. Just looking to place the standard in there in ways which are subtle. I've done a decent job so far, but I'm looking to avoid too much objectification, which I find in standard fic--except that this subject is naturally objectifying. – Erin Thursby Aug 15 '16 at 6:16
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    I think if you think about it too much what you'll end up with is flat characters that aren't really characters but caricatures. Yes, this subject can lead toward objectification, and you may have a character that objectifies men or women. In some sense, our characters failings and imperfections are the things that give them depth and move them from being just made up things to real imaginary people... so if your character is someone who does a little objectifying, then go for it. – DoWhileNot Aug 15 '16 at 15:18
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Lots of helpful answers here. I'm adding one more as I think the suggestions which accompanied this quote...

The show-don't-tell style that is so popular among aspiring writers today, forces you to do almost all exposition through physical action or naturalistic conversation. It does not work well for this kind of thing because a culture's standards of beauty are largely assumed in polite converation.

...are very helpful for writers who want to eschew the 'show-don't-tell' style mentioned, but I also think there's no need to eschew it. That style allows more than enough freedom to do this naturally.

How to do it, without departing from a normal, modern style of narrative

Most non-word-people haven't heard of free indirect speech, but all modern readers intuitively understand it. That means you can give us the point-of-view character's internal monologue as part of the narrative. For example:

Jack stared at the door. What was behind it? Could Sarah still be alive? He wiped a dramatic bead of sweat from his brow.

It's perfectly fine in this style to give your character's thoughts about something, as long as those thoughts feel like a natural part of the character's internal monologue at that time. You can use this to show your character is attracted to a person, the same way you could show your character is attracted to anything else.

Jack stared at the door. The craftsmanship was stunning. He moistened his lips. Mahogany. Viennese jambs. The studs were iron, smooth and plump. The varnish was thick, fresh, gleaming... he extended a hand to touch it, but stopped himself. To sully something so beautiful would be unthinkable.

The example is daft, of course, but hopefully you get the idea. If you let us live inside your point-of-view character's head, we can see what they're thinking about, what distracts them, what they fixate on.

Creepiness

Noticing someone's attractive features doesn't have to make them a creep — it's all about context. They could be...

  • Aware of the attractive person but trying not to stare
  • Shaking their head at an advert, say, where the attractive features of the picture are cartoonishly exaggerated
  • Ruefully recalling how somebody else fell for the charms of the attractive person
  • Tutting at how the attractive person was treated by others who are being creepy
  • Giving the attractive person direct compliments and attention which the person actually wants (let's not forget that between consenting adults it does occasionally happen!)

Closing blather

I sense (perhaps wrongly) that the person who kindly gave you the answer above is not a fan of the 'show-don't tell' principle. That's fine, of course. But I would caution that it's popular for a reason.

It engages the reader with your story better, because it more closely approximates the experience of being there for the story. The experience of reading the words 'Cole was angry' has only a distant connection to the experience of being confronted with an angry person. If instead you make me feel present as Cole punches the table, see him hyperventillate through his teeth, make me twitch when I'm flecked with his spittle — that more closely approximates the experience of being in the story, and that makes it more compelling.

I wouldn't be so quick to abandon 'show-don't-tell' style. Of course, maybe I'm just blinded by my slavish adherence to fashion ;)

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  • Yes, you can use free indirect speech, but then you are telling, not showing. How would someone know from being present in the scene that this is what Jack is thinking? They wouldn't. They would only know what he is doing and what he is saying. That is the limit of show. As soon as you narrate things an observer cannot see, you are telling. – user16226 Aug 16 '16 at 13:42
  • I think the style you are describing is close POV. In you second example, we are only allowed to look at the door when Jack is looking at it. An independent narrator would be at liberty to describe the room without reference to the character seeing it. In close POV, they can only describe it when the character sees it. An independent narrator or close POV can both tell Jack's feelings about it, which a bystander would not know except by observing his reactions (show). But an independent narrator can give the entire history of the door, which close POV cannot give unless Jack knows it. – user16226 Aug 16 '16 at 14:00
  • BTW, there is quite a bit of independent narrator and telling in successful modern books. Taken the opening pages of the first Harry Potter book for example. – user16226 Aug 16 '16 at 14:01
  • Yes, that’s the POV I mean. Thanks for elaborating: I've heard this POV described with various names including ‘third person limited’ and the mind-bogglingly silly name ‘limited omniscient’ (from a university textbook, no less), but I’ve never heard it called ‘close’, so I’ll know that one in future. – Cakebox Aug 16 '16 at 14:55
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    If that’s your understanding of ‘show, don’t tell’, I can see why you wouldn’t like it! What you're describing is what I’m familiar with calling ‘cinematic POV’ — no seeing the character’s thoughts. It’s a rare POV because seeing the character’s thoughts is what prose fiction does best. Cinema already comes with a soundtrack, a load of special effects and bucket of popcorn — we can’t afford to give up the only thing we do better than them! – Cakebox Aug 16 '16 at 14:55
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Skinny=beautiful is a recent western concept, most cultures still see fat as healthy, beautiful, lively, or desirable and skinny women as diseased, ugly, barren, and close to death. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

A good illustration of Fat as ugly or sexy is in the Soldier Son Trilogy by Robin Hobb.

N.B. I admit that a large part of this was a rant, I skimmed your Q and I may have been unfair and over-reacted. Also, I just saw that you are a recent member, in Writer’s we tend to be nicer than in other SE sites and less-judgmental, particularly for new users, so mea culpa.

After rereading I saw that you that you mentioned other cultures standards, and that you used “for the most part”.

(because based on American’s rap culture, strategically placed, fat seems highly desirable, and having lived in the US I knew many people who though of fashion models as walking skeletons and preferred more rotund people. I guess I just didn’t like my interpretation of those “our standards”, and that “Hey guys” was the drop that pushed my buttons the wrong way.

Anyways, here are some beautiful descriptions, some of them about unconventional beauty

“She possessed a beauty much different from Daisy, more like a wildflower in the unspoiled earth than a prize-winning rose in a formal garden.” ― Gary Inbinder, The Flower to the Painter

I also found a mention of bigger girl lit featuring fat protagonists like in in Good in Bed, Conversations with the Fat Girl, The Way It Is, and Alternative Beauty.

Since it is a foreign culture, a fantasy culture I assume, readers should not expect western cultural standards; so any descriptions you make should be taken at face value, they would be a natural part of that society and not "weird" in any way.

You can just use classical descriptions of beauty and substitute what is beautiful to that person and expend it with sexy fat terms. Something like: the heavenly softness of her ample thighs, the inviting curve of her round belly, the glow of her moon face, her lustrous thick arm, voluptuous curves, full-figured majesty, plump over-ripe breasts, motherly/womanly form, imposing body, big as a mountain; filled with honey-dew, shapely as a fathered pillow, chubby , curvaceous body, comfortable folds, full lips, prominent bottom, generous features, land of plenty, country of milk and honey, mountain of beauty, abundant gifts, liberal size, gorgeous ampleness, stunning presence, picturesque curvature, pleasing softness, superb figure, pleasing roundness, encompassing arms, spherical perfection, substantial form, profuse gifts, wide comforting chest, portly padding, stout flawlessness, striking splendor, grand fruitfulness, vast bosom, considerable attributes, bursting cleavage , shapely body, munificent shape.....

You could also build the differences progressively introducing the alternative standards of beauty and smoothly building up on it; this may be less jarring to readers unused to see things differently.

You wrote that you are afraid of loosing readers who could be weirded out. I think this relies more on the skill of the description that its subject. A good description can make literally anything seem beautiful. For instance, I used to dislike mushrooms, after reading Tolkien, I began craving to eat some raw, now I like them, and every time I eat one, I am transported back to middle-earth.

Jay, you argue

“But if the book is written in English, presumably the target audience is English-speaking countries, where for the most part the standard is "thin”

I am not sure about SE, but in similar sites user are up to 40% from India. The site is international and speaking English is no the same as sharing a mostly modern western cultural bias.

Here is the distribution based on an estimate on professional developers for SE. While modern Indians are influenced by western standards, traditionally Fat is a sign of health, welth and beauty. Read Indian women taking dangerous 'fat pills' to GAIN weight and emulate curvy Bollywood stars“

“Read “ it has never been considered attractive to be thin in India” , yes it is changing, but still, there are countries were girls try their damnest to be fat; read about forcefeeding or west Africa , or fat is beautiful, or Top 10 Countries Celebrating Female Obesity

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    That's why the words "here in the US" qualified that statement--I do realize that it's an international site. However varied men are as to what they prefer, the cultural standards that I can see--living here, watching TV, seeing magazines at the check out, seem to be pretty darn skinny. – Erin Thursby Aug 15 '16 at 5:34
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    I'm not worried that readers will find it weird, and in fact, I never said that. Read the question again. Maybe a little more carefully. I want to convey this standard without pointing out that it is in any way odd, weird or abnormal. Because, as I said in the question, it's normal for this culture. – Erin Thursby Aug 15 '16 at 5:51
  • What I am writing is not in the first person. Perhaps you mean in dialogue, not that I should change my book's POV to suit this. I am not going to change it for this detail. If you could edit your question to include more actual answer and less berating me for even asking the question, that would be helpful. I thank you for the book recommendation. – Erin Thursby Aug 15 '16 at 14:57
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    If the target audience was a culture where fat is beautiful, the question would all become moot. But if the book is written in English, presumably the target audience is English-speaking countries, where for the most part the standard is "thin". And you don't have to think of something as "weird" in the sense of "can't imagine any rational person thinking that" to find that it confusing, distracting, or requiring explanation. – Jay Aug 15 '16 at 19:41
  • Thank you for the edit. I am still not worried about losing readers, although in other answers, people are sure worried for me. I have no idea why the "Hey guys" bit bugged you so much. It was just a reminder because I was starting to see a lot of answers with no lit examples. The tips have been great, but I also wanted to gather some lit examples. The more I read, the better I get. – Erin Thursby Aug 17 '16 at 18:56

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