You’ve read that book, right? The one where the leading lady is a size 2. A man could put his hands around her waist and touch thumb to thumb, middle finger to middle finger.
Oh! And she’s g-o-r-g-e-o-u-s. Perfect hair. Supple lips that are the perfect tone even without lipstick. Her cheeks are blushing perfectly. Her nose curved cutely. Tiny feet.
She draws the attention of EVERY man in town. Right? But especially the eyes of the most handsome man. They fall in love. It’s perfect…kind of…yada yada yada.
I will never write a character who could stand in for a super model. I won’t make her a skinny mini just to fit the norm. I won’t. I won’t. I won’t write perfect looking characters.
Because that isn’t real.
Yeah. There are beauties in this world. A whole lot of them. And they all look different. Some are thin, others are curvy. Skin tone and hair texture and facial features are unique…and beautiful.
We have enough media screeching at us to be the “ideal”…whatever that is. To have bikini bodies. To zap cellulite. To make our legs look longer and our hair smoother and our wrinkles disappear. (Ironically, I just now…JUST NOW…got a Groupon email about teeth whitening)
Do you know what I think is beautiful? Crow’s feet. Because my Great Aunts had them due to lifetimes of smiles. Bellies of mama’s that have lines from carrying babies. Hands calloused from hard work to provide for a family.
Beauty is life lived well. Storms weathered. Mercy given. Babies loved. Kisses on a wedding day and kisses 50 years later. Feet that bring good news and little hands that bring dandelions.
A tiny waist is…well…just a tiny waist.
Beauty is so much bigger than a size 2.
“What your figure will be, goodness knows,” Ma warned her. “When I was married, your Pa could span my waist with his two hands.”
“He can’t now,” Laura answered, little saucily. “And he seems to like you.”
“You must not be saucy, Laura,” Ma reproved her, but Ma’s cheeks flushed pink and she could not help smiling.
–Laura Ingalls Wilder, “Little Town on the Prairie”
1. It was all due to corsets in the first place.
2. Even those figures age and have children and disappear–and their men still love them. 🙂
Ugh! Ouch! Corsets!
So glad I don’t have one of those.
Corsets. UGH! Caused prolapsed uterus problems in woman, miscarriages and other health problems. Also cause anorexia because digestion was so difficult that most of the time they could only choke down tea and dry toast. And that wasn’t just for what was the “tight-lacers.”
All to attract the “right” man.
Thanks for your commentary on this, Susie. And for staying true in your writing. You amaze me.
Thank you, Amy. I really appreciate your encouragement!
Mark Gungor says there is no such thing as an ugly woman. God did not create any such thing. There are, however, lazy women but all women have the ability to be beautiful.
I’m going to be honest, I am the lazy woman often. 🙂
I’ve seen the very sad side of young women with the need or desire to be thin. It has impacted them over their entire lives.
Yes. So sad. I think we need to show positive role models (of both men and women) who are full of true beauty. You know?
So beautiful. I’ve taken to “pinning” real photos of vintage ladies because it’s glamorous but real, you know? Not what Grace Kelly looked like but what my Grammy looked like.
You know, I love rummaging through the picture bins at antique shops! You can tell so much about people in those pictures. 🙂
I remember saying to my group of friends in high school that it didn’t matter if none of us were magazine-cover beautiful. We were the kind that would inspire our someday-husbands to call us the most beautiful woman in the world. The real kind. =)
I describe most all of my characters as beautiful…but that’s because to me, so many people are, like you say. Sometimes that means typical beauty. Sometimes it’s the kind that gets a woman in trouble in an age where men think they can just claim her because they want to. Sometimes it means it dawns quietly on the hero, the more he looks at her. Sometimes she relied on it too long and now has to learn what ELSE she is. Sometimes she’s scarred and called ugly and yet the hero thinks her the most beautiful woman he’s ever seen. I love finding each character’s real beauty. =)
I love that, Ro!
I don’t want perfect characters, I don’t want perfect situations. What can I learn from those?
I want to read about the woman who struggles with her weight because she hovers on the edge of depression, the woman who struggles with her self-worth because of how the world perceives her value in the marketplace, the woman who struggles with doubt-with-a-capital-D because of all the terrible, horrible, no-good things that life has thrown her way. And … I want to read about the man who struggles with his weight because the pleasure from eating is the only pleasure he knows, the man who struggles with self-worth because he can’t seem to get any further in his career, and the man who struggles with doubt-with-a-capital-D because all his prayers seem to go unanswered. I want to sit with them awhile and get to know them, learn about the circumstances and decisions which have made them the way they are; and then I want to see them learn and grow and change, be it ever so slightly or oh-so-mightily, becoming someone they never thought themselves capable of being, and then I want to think about the changes I need to make in my own life, and how much of what I have read can be applied in my own situation.
Besides, the flavor of a story comes strongest from the innermost thoughts of a character as evidenced by their actions, not their appearance: “She placed the rose delicately upon the polished grain of the catafalque, lingering only long enough for a single tear to fall from her anguished eyes and land upon a waiting petal, which bowed in respectful sympathy for her overwhelming grief.” Do I need to add physical detail to understand what is happening, what is being felt, what is being experienced? Only so much as is necessary to reveal the character. “Her brilliant blue eyes shone dimly through a veil of morphine, shuttered and shaded from the world, hiding a once-sparkling intellect behind garish makeup and street tramp fashions.” Let the mind fill in the blanks; let the reader have the joy of creating their own avatar.
And let the perfect characters stay over in Hollywood where they belong, entertaining the masses with vapid clichés and their pointless (and endless) sequels.