Put More Frida in Your Fiction

In the past couple days I’ve been thinking a lot about this blog post by snarkynarwahl about needing less impossibly attractive females in fiction, and more real ones. 

I agree wholeheartedly with the sentiment: Women don’t look like super models. Even super models don’t look like super models. And equating heroism with those impossible (and, let’s be real, highly caucasian) standards of beauty is both damaging to young readers, and a total cop-out.

(I’m not even going to begin delving into the issues of associating heroism with able-bodiedness, because that’s a post in itself–and because having a “disability” and a conventionally attractive face aren’t mutually exclusive.)

Anyway. I’d like to take it a step even farther. I want more than “average”- and “ugly”-looking women, with crooked teeth and hairy upper lips and gangly scars and fat on their bones and lazy eyes and blemished skin and unibrows and broken noses. I want those characters to find beauty in themselves, instead of trying to shape themselves into someone else’s ideal. I want women like Frida Kahlo, who found beauty in her unibrow and mustache, where others may have found only a reason to buy a razor. I want female characters who aren’t supermodels, but are confident.

Frida Kahlo, Self Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird

Frida Kahlo, Self Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird (photo credit: fridakahlo.org)

Not all of them, because a lot of us are insecure about our physical appearances. But I’d like to see some of them–and especially some heroines. Because no one should be insecure about their looks. And some people really aren’t (at least most days).

There’s this kind of stigma around women believing themselves to be beautiful, regardless of others’s perceptions of their beauty: If a girl thinks she’s pretty, she must be vain. But there’s nothing wrong with a girl or a women who looks in the mirror and likes what she sees, who feels comfortable in her own skin. Women don’t need to look like a supermodel to feel that way about themselves–and neither do female characters.

So I don’t just want to see heroines who don’t fit society’s beauty mold. I want to see heroines who don’t fit that mold, and know that they’re beautiful anyway.

(But I guess that’s a huge part of why I want to write–to create the kinds of stories, and characters, that I want to see.)

What about you: are you tired of female protagonists with photoshopped good-looks? Would you like to see more “average/ugly” heroines with self-confidence? And, side note: if you know of any good stories with heroines like those I’ve discussed, drop me a line, because I’d love to read them.