Blog by VONNIE DAVIS -- International, Award-Winning Romance Author: Adventurous...Humorous...Amorous.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Do We Want Our Heroines Physically Perfect?

I enjoy a heroine who has fleshy thighs and broad hips. I suppose that preference reflects back on my own plus-sized figure. What about a heroine who wears glasses or has a bit of an overbite? What say you about a heroine who has had a masectomy? Or kinky hair that just won't do what she wants? How perfect do we like our heroines?

I ask myself this question everytime I start a new story.

You see, I get fed-up with society's opinion that one is worthy of love only when one is perfect.

We don't all have perky breasts. Nor long shapely legs that go to our waists. Or bedroom eyes that tempt a man. For some of us, take off our glass and we have to squint to see the man in our beds. Thank God for the power of touch.
 
Nature does not create us all perfect.
 
Then there are the effects of pregnancy or accidents or three too many donuts. In life, our bodies get abused either by outside influences or by our own bad habits. But does that deem us unworthy of love?
 
Do we feel a closer connection to heroines with a flaw or two? Or do we want them beautiful, toned and tanned? How perfect do you like your heroines?

24 comments:

LaVerne Clark said...

Its a relief to me to read of heroine's who are far from perfect - especially the older I'm getting! Two heroine's stand out for me not only because they were great stories, but the heroine's were both 'less than' perfect. The first is Skeeter in The Help - and the other was Theresa in Sweet Memories by LaVyrle Spencer. Both women had self-image issues, but they grew throughout the story to overcome them and see they weren't really issues after all.

By the way, Vonnie - I LOVE your new-look blog!! So elegant and welcoming. Where did you find your background wallpaper?

Christine Warner said...

I like to read and write about heroine's who aren't physically "perfect" and I also like them to have a feel insecurities too. Makes them more real and much more interesting and easy to relate to.

Liz Flaherty said...

I want the heroines I read (and write) less-than-perfect--I really don't care what the "flaws" are. Same with heroes. However, an ugly little truth about myself is that, even though I want flawed or scarred heroes, I still want'em handsome. I guess I have some growing to do. :-)

Good post, Vonnie!

Miss Snark said...

Great article, Vonnie, and all too true. I think it's a double standard that's actually not, though. Heroes are expected to be likewise perfect.

Personally, I've always loved Eric from PoO for the contrast between beauty (his voice) and ugly (his face).

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Hi LaVerne, I hope you're recovering well from surgery. I'm glad you like the new look. The wallpaper is one offered by Blogger. I looked through all they had until I found one that matched the photo of coffee cup and book I'd bought from depositphotos(dot)com for my header. I tweaked and fiddled with the colors for the printable portion of the background and shades for the titles, etc.

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Insecurities. Yes, most of us have them, don't we? Drawing on the pain of our own makes the writing of our heroine's deeper and richer. I think women relate to that because we so often demand so much from ourselves.

LaVerne Clark said...

I'm feeling great thanks! :) No more pain - that is until they fix the ACL anyway, but that is another couple of months away yet. Thanks for thinking of me my lovely friend!

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

I'll share a secret, Liz. I often look at a middle-age guy, big gut and sway-backed because of it and think--as a personal challenge--could I write that guy and make him into a hero. Then I mentally shake my head and go, "Nah." Do you think it goes back to our first stories as little girls about the "handsome prince"?

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Eric in Phantom of the Opera. I loved him, too, and will confess to wondering how the story would have gone had she chosen him. Could she have helped him see the prettier side of humanity? Or would the scarred side of his persona tainted their relationship?

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

LaVerne, that's great news. So glad the surgery produced positive results. Yay you!!!

Calisa Rhose said...

You know, V- I appreciate an IMperfect hero and heroine and this is a perfect post! My heroine in Risk Factors has a crooked tooth that Connor notices and brings to light in thought. Viv's also clumsy and a little insecure in her personal life. She also got in a wreck that she was at fault for. But to me, what makes those characters real is that they make mistakes or aren't physically perfect- cos the Good Lord knows I'm NOT. LOL

Calisa Rhose said...

I also meant to say I LOVE the new blog look! :)

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Yes, I remember Connor thinking about Viv's crooked tooth and smiling. It was an endearing attribute.

I suppose I'm wondering if since we read to escape do we enjoy reading stories set in places we dream of visiting? Do we also like reading about doing things we dream about, but know we'll never experience? And in that same vein, do we want to excape from the imperfectness of our own bodies to the perfectness of someone else's? Is this a part of our escapism or do we prefer reality?

Joanne Stewart said...

Oh, how I adore this question. Vonnie, you're so good with coming up with thought provoking questions! I have to admit, I don't really think about it too much. Or at least, I didn't until recently. I always tried to describe my heroines from the perspective of my hero--she's got flaws, and in her eyes, I try to show them. But in his? He thinks she's gorgeous. My recent, WIP, though, I've got an older woman/younger man, and she's far from perfect and she points it out. Big breasts that are less than perky, wide hips and a big keester. It becomes a playful moment. But I've also gone the exact opposite--I've got a heroine who has a boyish figure and small boobs.

I'm rambling now. Coffee's kicked in. Sorry. lol What i mean is, I'm with you. I'm starting to get braver and make my heroines not quite so perfect. I really enjoyed my last heroine, I specifically made her short and curvy, and then gave her a hot stud. I always did prefer the heroines more like Cinderella--the ones who were less than perfect and more on the real side. I think you do yours very well. :)

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Oh, Joanne, your comments about your imperfect heroines made me think of my DIL. She was super slender with small boobs. I was surprised when I met her since my son had always dated big-busted women. I'd hoped it was a sign of a maturing process for him to see the quality of the woman inside. And my DIL had great quality and I love her to bits. So imagine my shock, after they'd been married for four years, when she called me from the hospital to tell me she was having implants. Was she doing this to please my son? I wanted to grab him by the collar and shake him. He must have felt the heat of my long-distance vibes and took her phone. "Mom, this was not my idea. I love her the way she is. She's doing it for her own self-image and I have to support her in this." She took the phone back and said, "He asked me what I wanted for my 30th birthday and I told him I wanted boobs. That I was tired of trying to fill out an A-cup." I relaxed when I saw my son was trying to be a hero and give her what she'd long-desired. Suddenly I saw her insecurity over this issue and my heart went out to her. She was gorgeous before and she's gorgeous now...but mostly because of her loving heart. Thanks for commenting, Joanne.

Angel Nicholas said...

I love your new blog look, Vonnie. Very pretty!

I definitely prefer a more "natural" heroine, flaws and all. Physical perfection simply isn't realistic for 98% of the population, why should it be for our heroines? Or heroes, for that matter. Not to mention what one person considers perfection turns off the next guy/girl. If a man loves women with healthy curves, he isn't going to find a skinny woman beautiful.

I read samples of a few books last week that I ended up deleting, in part because the heroes were so agonizingly, breathtakingly perfect. Rippling abs, bulging biceps, movie star good-looks and easy charm. The secondary characters were just as hunky. Ugh. Kill me now.

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

Since nobody is perfect and people coverup with makeup, surgeries, etc. it's hard to figure out who they are. I love my friends because of who they are and always told me children how important it is to look beyond and not take the obvious on face value.

As far as Phantom of the OPera, I definitely would have chosen the Phantom, but I am a bit biased as Gerry Butler is my addiction and I am proud to day it.

Great post Miz Vonnie. Hugs!

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

I get a little tired of the ripped abs, too. My son is a natural body builder and often performs in shows (as a natural body builder, he has to submit for drug testing). I know how hard he has to exercise and diet to keep his six-pack. He counts every gram of fat--seriously--and measures his water intake. Yet every man in a romance simply gets his from hard work on the ranch or good genes. It normally doesn't happen that way.

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Thanks, Miz-Gerry-Fanatic. I loved his role in PoO.

Sadly, SOME of the younger generation of parents are not teaching their children to look beneath the surface. Looks are everything. Any thing less than perfection is to be scorned. So sad. And, of course, the media promotes this mentality as well.

Angela Adams said...

I always learn something when I check out your blog. Great post.

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Thanks Angela. I love hearing everyone's opinions. I get tired of hearing just mine...LOL.

meryvamp said...

Very interesting and engaging post.

Basically, I'm never bothered or put-off if the heroine is pretty, beautiful, slender, etc. For most of the stories I've read, there is reasoning behind why a character looks the way they do (i.e., altered DNA, witches using charms, and so forth).

The character, whether pretty, beautiful, or ugly, needs to be believable. Readers need to be able to relate to a beautiful character. So how do you do that? Show how the heroine views herself. Even if others think she is drop-dead gorgeous, she should still have insecurities. Or if she doesn't, she should be vain and egotistical. Those traits are flaws. Not many readers relate to those kind of flaws, but this gives you a lot of room for character growth.

Beyond what she looks like, she needs to have layers, emotional depth.





Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Oh Mery, I love emotional depth in characters and often have to rework them to get deeper into their psyches. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and please come back often!

Aria Glazki said...

I definitely do not like to write perfect heroines, & I agree wholeheartedly that romance novels need to begin showing that physically (or otherwise) imperfect people are worthy of love (without making them first newly perfect and then loved).