I know what you are thinking. No, this post is not about memoirs or true life stories or nonfiction - it's about putting characters into a story that are realistic.
I've currently working on a project involving a main character who is slightly overweight. I want to express that this is a normal body style, and something to be cherished and honored. She has some unique qualities, namely werewolf qualities. I plan to have her meet a hunk of a man that looks kind of like a black "Mister Clean" and become his partner in a bounty hunting and investigative business.
I have this character all sketched out in my head. I know her body type, bra size, how often she shaves her legs, family background, hair color(s), eye and skin tone. But this is all in my head. I recently made a search through stock photos for inspiration. I often develop a cover concept early on and use it for inspiration as I'm completing a story. It works most of the time. But, there have been a few times when the character in my story developed a will of their own and the story went in another direction.
Anyway, the observance I've made is that it is difficult to find pictures of "normal" women or men to use for stock images. Depending on the search word used one might find women desires by those following a certain fetish, namely BBW or chubby chasers. I was just amazed at the vast quantity of stock available for stick-thin models and hugely obese women, but not so much for the woman with just a few extra pounds.
In this particular story, weight, or body type is an important factor in the plot and direction of the story. Her past is affected by her weight. Not so much her, because she's comfortable in her own body, but those around her. Men in the past thought they could take advantage of her because of her body type and she refused the man (werewolf) her parents chose for her mate. She runs off and begins a life of her own. This is were she meets the other main character in the story.
I have plans for more stories using this character so it is important that I develop her to some greater depth over time. The point to this post, or rant if you prefer, is to express the lack of photo material available showing a normal person in a romantic or sexy pose.