“Big Girl” by Meg Elison

April 7, 2018

“Big Girl,” by Meg Elison, is a short story in the Nov/Dec 2017 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction.

The premise is simple: a teen aged girl is found, naked and enormous. Her giant bare body is exposed to the entire world; she cannot find clothing that fits; people stare at her and try to photograph her breasts and genitals to post online as porn; people write erotica about her, her personally, her the real person; people comment on the size and shape of her body; she is treated as dangerous, and a financial drain. Other than her immense size this is pretty much the teen girl experience, quite frankly. You are subject to constant scrutiny and measurement and are somehow inherently dangerous and of course it’s your fault for being so.

She manages to escape the attention by, literally, escaping. This teen aged girl has to leave the entire world she knows, and her family, to sequester herself on an island where she lives nude eating raw flesh until she begins shrinking again. When she’s “normal sized” she is able to rejoin society.

As she ages, of course, she starts shrinking; vanishing from view, one might say. Becoming invisible as opposed to her youthful hypervisibility.

The story is a fantastic look at the way women are treated in the real world, and in media. As “nubile” “hot teens” they are scrutinized and sexualized. As women age they have less and less representation and are expected to fade away… perhaps to walk off into the woods and take up knitting. As with many of this magazine’s stories, it’s very socially savvy.

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