Tracy Edna Turnblad is a self-described "pleasantly plump" teenager with a big heart, and the main protagonist of Hairspray. She dreams of being a dancing star on her favorite program, The Corny Collins Show, leading to conflict with her agoraphobic mother, Edna.
Tracy is kind-hearted and eternally optimistic. She sees that her hometown of Baltimore and society as a whole is flawed. At various points, she notes Balitmore's issues with flashers, alcoholics, homelessness, racism, bigotry, and discrimination. Despite all of this, she holds onto the hope that the future can be changed and that she can work to make her dreams a reality.
Tracy dreams of becoming a dancer on The Corny Collins Show, a teen dance show starring several of the popular students from her school. She deals with bullying and discrimination at school because of her weight and her fashion sense, in particular her hair. During her journey, she befriends black classmates who share her dream, but are only allowed to dance in segregated spaces, such as on The Corny Collins Show's monthly "Negro Day" special.
Seeing the injustice in their plight, Tracy makes it her mission to desegregate The Corny Collins Show.
Tracy appears in or participates in the following songs.
- Good Morning Baltimore (performed by Tracy)
- Run and Tell That (performed by Seaweed and Inez)
- I Know Where I've Been (performed by Maybelle and protesters)
- (The Legend of) Miss Baltimore Crabs (performed by Velma)
- It Takes Two (performed by Link)
- The Nicest Kids in Town (performed by Corny Collins and Corny Collins Show cast)
- Big, Blonde, and Beautiful (performed by Edna and Maybelle, reprise performed by Edna and Velma)
- Hairspray (performed by Corny Collins)
- Ladies' Choice (performed by Link)
- I Can Hear The Bells (performed by Tracy)
- Welcome to the '60s (performed by Tracy and Edna)
- Without Love (performed by Tracy, Penny, Seaweed, Link, and others)
- The New Girl in Town (performed by Amber, Tammy, and Brenda 1st version, the Dynamites 2nd version)
- You Can't Stop the Beat (performed by the entire main cast)
- So Far to Go (performed by the entire main cast)
- Mama, I'm a Big Girl Now (performed by Tracy, Penny, and Amber)
- Tracy was played by actress Ricki Lake in the 1988 film, Ricki Lake later made an appearance in the 2007 remake as a talent agent.