Is it just me, or is it that almost every time I open a book, the main heroine has a problem with her physical appearance? Don't get me wrong. Being a teenager myself and a girl, I do notice that type of self-consciousness in others and in myself. It's not even out fault for thinking this way, either, but maybe YA is playing that out that stigma too much?
Growing up, girls will always worry about how they look. It's been hardwired into our brains that if we don't look like that DD-cup bombshell beauty with perfectly applied makeup and skinny limbs, we're not what's considered beautiful or hot, sexy, and very attractive. It's not our fault. But I don't think that this is every girl's main priority worry growing up through adolescence. I may just be speaking for myself, but, never have I felt truly insecure about my image 24/7. And, unless my friends haven't told me, neither do they care so much, either.
What I can't stand in YA books is that readers obviously know that this leading heroine is attractive and smart and talented in some way. We know this because 1) There's a love triangle. And let's face it, if the girl's got game, she's doing something right, or 2) When have we ever watched a successful movie where the leading and super hot hero love interest is interested in someone who isn't attractive? Never. To me, there is no definition between what is considered attractive and what is not, but all media focus on a certain kind of attractive. And this also includes books.
I'm not blaming authors and I'm not bashing books. I love books and I love authors. But what I think is that we need more female characters that are more confident in their appearance. This, meaning that the main girl can be all geeky and awkward and socially inept, but know that she is pretty and smart and in command of who she is.
Do I think I'm attractive? Uhhh, yes and no. I find that I am too skinny and my hair is flat and boring. I don't think that my face or body is all that stunning, but not only is it not a major issue for me, but I also am confident in who I am in some ways. I never wear makeup. Mainly, it's because I'm lazy and don't like makeup, but I also know that I don't look that unattractive without it. I don't consider myself to be pretty, but I think I'm cute. And that's what counts. Also, within the six years of high school I've been in, two boys have admitted that they had a crush on me. While that may not be all that impressive, it proves that I'm not all that ugly. I mean, there must be something that's physically appealing about my face that others see as well, along with my personality.
Instead of sending this message out to young girls that read YA that it's okay to think you're unattractive because, someday, your handsome prince will come and sweep you away, let's do something else. To me, this just makes the main heroine look like she's fishing for compliments and is in complete denial when her potential boyfriend insists that she is beautiful. While this idea has many perks (like relating to all those other girls that don't think that she's attractive and is a great technique for making character growth), it also has its downfalls, because this, in some ways, makes that girl look weak and a damsel, when in all actuality, that character's not because she ends up saving the day in the end.
What I think should happen with girls in YA is: make those girls confident in who she is right from the very start. What YA books are teaching the younger demographic is that it is okay to not like her body or her face because eventually, some guy will see the true beauty within her. That's not good! And to think I almost fell for this, too! Women shouldn't have to wait for the man. Women can be confident and women can be in control and women of all kinds can be pretty. I think I see this trend more in dystopia of female confidence than I do in, say, contemporary or paranormal. Perhaps this is why dystopia is a growing, popular genre?
Maybe I'm speaking nonsense here, but it's what has been on my mind. What are your thoughts? Do you think this is true? Do you disagree? Tell me what you think!