I didn't realize until my last in person writing group meeting that I had some serious body image issues. Of course, I'm well aware of the fact that I have a widening arse, and I fight valiantly against its expansion. The women in my family, both in-laws and my side, all have similar weight and dieting issues. My mother always cautioned against "getting fat" after eating something sugary, but it wasn't until just a few years ago that I realized it was her own feelings about weight that made her say that to me, which probably came as a result of things her father said to her about weight.
Anyway, something that came up in the writing group was that one of my supporting characters was overweight, and my main character didn't like her initially, and the weight was viewed as a negative characteristic. As well, a man the overweight supporting character eventually takes up with is also slightly overweight, and there was a definite a-ha moment with me and the group when we realized that the only reason it was okay for these two overweight supporting characters to be together was because they were both overweight -- meaning the male supporting character was not considered love interest material because he was portly.
Well, that was pretty crappy and definitely gave me pause for thought. Obviously I, and my main character in that particular story, have body image issues. So I looked for similar threads in my current WIP and noticed that it went the reverse. My main character is of average weight, but she is threatened by a woman who is thin and tall and blonde and leggy. Meaning, my main character feels inadequate because she is not those things. (However, she gets the guy in the end and the tall blonde doesn't, so it all works out for her.)
I was reading about Enid Blyton, beloved children's book author (and one of the most if not the, prolific writers of all time, producing about 800 books over her 40 year career), and a staple of my childhood. Many of you know her if you had some UK flava in your childhoods; her books are not published in the US. Anyway, many of Blyton's books fell under criticism for being racist or otherwise ill-advised in their language and views, which were largely seen as a product of Blyton's era and her upbringing. You can read about it on Wiki. Anyway, her opinions really came out in her stories and you can see she was prejudiced and ignorant about races, as well as sexist. (It's really unsettling actually and opens up the whole argument for editing offensive works for modern sensibilities, or preserving the author's words. I'm not sure what to do there, but I definitely am not into reading her racist stories.)
I would hope most of us think about what hang -ups or prejudices or violent views we hold and consider carefully how and why these come out in our stories, and whether they should be there at all. For example, my weight issues aren't really a problem in itself, but the fact that there was a negative connotation given to an overweight character IS a problem, and one I'm not comfortable with in my fiction. I'll be removing that aspect.