Sunday, February 24, 2013
I feel pretty, oh so pretty
Do you know what I really hate?
(No, it's not the bogan neighbours at the flats next door who insist of playing crap music at 11 p.m. on a Sunday night -- hey look! I got old!)
What's annoying me this week are all those YA heroines who don't know how pretty they are.
I'm fairly sure that teenage girls know if they're good looking. If they don't, the boys soon let them know. Good-looking is like cool. You either have it or you don't, and in high school, you sure as hell know which camp you're in.
I won't. I'll hate you because you're either oblivious, or you're being wilfully dissembling.
It's like Bella in Twilight, and how she complained about her flawless pale skin and her flowing dark hair. The author wants us to think that Bella thinks she's not beautiful, but really, we're supposed to know she's actually beautiful.
And I get that. It's a workaround. Nobody is going to warm to a narrator who goes on about how wonderful good-looking she is. Except for this guy:
And this is where showing, not telling, is your friend. Show us how people react to your heroine. Show us boys who ask her out. Show us best friends who wish they had her hair. Show us siblings who get jealous. Show us, but don't stab us in the eye with it. Readers are smart. We'll get it.
Because it is possible to know you're good-looking and still be nice and smart at the same time, isn't it? Because if we really think that every beautiful teenage girl has to be the bitch of the story, then something has gone horribly wrong.
And if we think that if we write about that girl -- that smart, pretty, nice girl -- that we'll alienate our readers, then what does that say about sexism and feminism and prejudice?
Here is my mother's sage advice on feminism: "You girls can do anything you want, but don't burn your bra. Bras are expensive."
What's annoying you this week?