Okay, so what’s going on with characters lately? I’m in the process of reading a book currently on the best sellers list and just finished reading a couple of the more popular trilogies, and I’m seeing this puzzling pattern. Why are all the heroines in these most recent popular series clumsy, insecure, outsiders who see themselves as plain, when everyone else (i.e. the hero) is inexplicably drawn to them and think they are the most beautiful, amazing creatures on earth? Okay, that’s every woman’s dream to be loved for herself, but give it a rest. There’s got to be something reasonable about the attraction.
Authors, I challenge you to come up with some strong, attractive, secure heroines who don’t trip over doorways and don’t wear sneakers and baggy jeans. Characters don’t need to be dressed like Carrie and Samantha from Sex and the City, but why can’t they dress like adults? It’s difficult to relate to a heroine who is more worried about whether or not she has a scrunchie for her hair than if she has birth control.
Which brings us to the issue of giving all these wimpy heroines wild, unmanageable hair. So tell me, what’s even remotely attractive about hair that is so tangled and bushy that the heroine can’t comb it? That #1 book I’m reading now even starts out with her lamenting about her hair. Authors are making such a big deal about awful hair that these uncontrollable follicles are becoming characters of their own.
Let me tell you why this bothers me. I grew up in the Sixties when long, perfectly straight hair was the ideal. (Think Cher or Michelle Phillips.) I, of course, had curly, unmanageable hair that no matter what I did to straighten it or set it on giant rollers or yes, even iron it, it was still fluffy and frizzy and not in a cool way. I know how it looked when I woke up or when I let it air dry at the beach or after making love, and let me assure you, it was not a good look for anyone. (Thank you to the genius who invented flat irons.)
Come on authors, stop with the wild, crazy hair. It’s not attractive. It’s never attractive. Even Nicole Kidman and Taylor Swift look better when their curls are controlled or relaxed. Let’s not give our characters physical features that demand so much valuable space while the author is ignoring what’s really important…plot. One of the most valuable things I learned while writing screenplays is that if it doesn’t move the plot forward, it shouldn’t be on the page. Character flaws can help develop a character or cause a reader to be jarred out of the story. Enough with the ugly hair. Give us characters we care about and plots that envelop us.