Julie Murphy is redefining what a leading lady looks like. Murphy is the author of Dumplin’ (turned into a Netflix film starring Danielle Macdonald and Jennifer Aniston, no big deal!!!), Puddin’, Dear Sweet Pea, and most recently, Faith: Taking Flight. Disappointed by the way books, movies, and the media in general represent plus-size characters, Julie Murphy is on a mission to showcase them genuinely and authentically. Newsflash — plus-size women are more than just the funny best friend! In Faith: Taking Flight, Faith, the main character, is a plus-size superhero, a narrative I am very excited to get behind! I sat down with Murphy to learn more about Faith, her thoughts on plus-size characters, and of course, her sense of style.
There’s usually a particular image and body type for female superheroes, what was it like creating the origin story for a plus-size superhero?
This was so incredibly exciting. Growing up, I never really gravitated toward superhero comics, and that was partially because it was so impossible for me to find characters that resonated with me. I discovered Faith a few years before taking on this project, and became an instant fan, so getting to dabble in her world is an actual fangirl dream come true.
Why is it so crucial for plus-size bodies to be leading characters in young adult novels?
We have a saying in our industry that goes something like, “If you can’t see it, you can’t be it.” The genre is read by teens and adults alike, but especially for teens it’s so important to see examples of people who look like you and people who don’t doing all kinds of things, from saving the world to falling in love. When you’re plus-size, it’s so very important to normalize the existence of plus-size people in all facets of life. It really helps you come to terms with your body a whole lot faster. It’s why I’m constantly looking to diversify not only the books and film I consume, but also all of my social media.
There is a chapter in Faith: Taking Flight where Faith references that since she is fat, if she went to school looking like she rolled out of bed, she would be called a slob. Do you feel plus-size women feel a certain pressure to dress up?
Oh, definitely! I think for straight size women, there’s this sort of cutsieness to being able to wear cozy clothes as real clothes or the no makeup/floppy bun look. Plus-size women have an extra barrier there. Not only do we need to be incredibly qualified, smart, and funny, but we also have to be the perfect presentation of femininity. Of course, those ideals are starting to slowly shift, but I still revert back to that thinking sometimes. Somedays (okay, most) I just want to wear sweats!
A turning point for Faith was when she finally embraced her powers and put together her makeshift costume. Clothing can absolutely empower! If you were a superhero, can you describe your ideal outfit?
Honestly, it would probably be pretty on far with Faith’s! I love a ringer tee and jeans moment. I sort of think if you’re going to save the world, you might as well do it in your fave jeans. That said, I love the Sailor Moon vibe so, so much and of course, I adore a good jumpsuit, but nothing makes me feel more powerless than having to strip down naked in a public bathroom stall just to pee. Ha!
What famous person’s closet (dead or alive) would you most like to raid? Why? What’s the best style advice you’ve received?
I love, love Aidy Bryant’s look. Katherine Hepburn too. Her pants collection! The best style advice I’ve ever gotten was to let go of the word flattering. I don’t care about flattering clothing. I care about clothes that excite me and make me feel like my truest myself. As far as I’m concerned, I don’t need clothes to flatter me. My body does just fine all on its own.
Lightning Round Time!
One non-work hobby that brings you joy?
I love swimming and Animal Crossing! My island is named Dollywood.
One life hack you’re very proud of?
Mastering pick-up groceries and Target pick-ups before the onset of the pandemic. I was ready, baby!
Go-to outfit when you are trying to get out the door in under 5 minutes?
For the summer? A cute denim skirt with a band tee tucked in and maybe some sandals or Allbirds. That or a giant smock dress.
It’s Friday night, do you have JOMO or FOMO?
I had to Google JOMO, but JOMO all the way. I would have to say I am completely immune to FOMO. You have to be hanging with one of my idols or snoozing at a remote beach for me to feel any sense of FOMO.
What book are you curling up with on a Sunday night?
I love a good romance! Right now my faves are Beach Read by Emily Henry and You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson.