Hi dear friends,
I am back from YALC!!! I know I have tons of posts and comments to catch up with and that’s what I’ll do in the coming days but I wanted to rekindle with my Thursday discussion tradition!
Today’s topic has been inspired by a comment from Lashaan @bookidote about one of the book launches I hosted on the blog weeks ago.
The synopsis or excerpt had a description of the male MC and Lashaan commented with “I always find it somewhat funny to read the detailed description of the body of men in romance novels. Is that the main difference between contemporary romance and pure romance? The amount of “sensuality” included? And if there’s explicit sexual content, it falls into erotica?”
Well as usual Lashaan is right and it had me thinking about physical description of main characters and how they usually “have to” fit the genre we read.
I used the “have to” on purpose and will test that theory.
Why do most people read romance?
Well I can’t speak for every reader of course but I read them to dream! To escape reality and live in a fantasy world.
If the main male character is bald, with a protruding belly and his breath smells of stale beer and cigarettes, chances are high that I won’t dream about him but rather have nightmares!
The character’s appearance must make the story believable!
And what do you have in romance? A love story!
I am not saying that in real life people who are not flawless can’t find love otherwise 90% of the population , me included, would stay celibate but every love story, even YA love story, begins with some chemistry between the two main character. It can be M/F, F/F, M/M. It can be at first sight or slow burn. But each time you have a “little something” happening between the heroes.
If the male MC is handsome it will be easier to believe in.
Handsome does not mean flawless! He has to have charisma or some cuteness. A cute shy nerd can beat a hot jock!
If you have a F/F love story it will be one (or both) of the main characters.
You would have a hard time buying it if the main MC was totally unattractive or even repulsive!
Of course we also have retelling of “The Beauty and the Beast” but most of the time we know or guess that there is a hidden beauty under that skin! And the hero is often not repulsive but rather different as in a beast versus a human.
Now let’s take the traditional M/F love story.
Does that mean that the female main character must also be very attractive? No!
Why? Because let’s face it, the majority (I don’t say all) of people reading romance is female. And we are not catwalk material most of the time but rather ordinary girls.
We will even have an easiest time identifying with the female MC if she looks just like the girl next door. Because we love the idea that you and me could be swept off our feet by the handsome hunk, even with uneven boobs and pudgy thighs.
I would compare it to the Disney movies and Grimm tales where the poor ordinary girl get chosen by the prince. It’s the EF as in Cinderella Effect 😀
Is it double standard? Definitely!
I think that physical appearance and stereotypes are the most important in the romance genre.
If you read a crime book, I don’t think you’d care if your detective is bald and smelly. What you’d care is his mind, the way he would solve the crime and sometimes his little quirks that can fit in the genre. If he is attractive, so be it but that’s not really important. Other factors would play a major part like the atmosphere, the clues left behind to solve the crime or the mystery etc.
The same can be said about horror stories (and no, not all monsters are hideous you can have angelic faces and morph into a beast the page after); woman fiction etc.
Is it fair? Probably not.
Shouldn’t we have more romance with ugly heroes? Well good luck with really repulsive ones! You have exceptions of course but you’ll notice they all have something special to “make up” for their “uglyness” (see Beauty and the Beats above).
And to answer Lashaan I think the hotter the book, the most bodily description, bare chest and bulging biceps you’ll have indeed!
Now do share your thoughts with me!
Do you agree that physical appearance is not as important in other genres?
If you read F/F or M/M is it also important?
Could you read and love a romance story with an ugly character?
Thanks for reading!