I'm reading a book for review by a first-time author, and it's a sweet story, not a lot of action or sex or drama, and that's perfectly okay with me. I don't mind stepping back and just reading a book about ordinary people going about their lives, making connections and falling in love. In fact I kinda like it because it's set in a world I can totally relate to.
But as I'm reading this story, I'm realizing that the heroine is hitting some wrong buttons with me. Not because of anything outrageous or unredeemable, but because she's falling into a stereotypical role that really drives me crazy when I come across it: that of the insecure heroine.
Now I know at some time or another we've all felt insecure, whether it's about our bodies or our jobs or where we fit in. Hell I seem to feel insecure on a daily basis. But there comes a point when you can't let it hold you back, not if you really want something badly enough. And that's hard to believe. People, especially women, are conditioned to believe we're not good enough, despite the fact that you are a mother, wife, daughter, careerwoman, best friend. You act as doctor, chef, maid, chauffeur. You listen to your friends when they have problems and support your significant other. You love your kids unconditionally and would die for them. Yet despite all that, yeah, we do have our moments of weakness and don't think it's good enough.
So when I read a story with a heroine who is very insecure, I try to be open-minded. She's real, not a superhero, and it's normal for her to have doubts. But then it goes on. And on. It totally boggles her mind that the hero would think she's smart and beautiful and amazing. She pushes him away because she can't wrap her head around the idea that he could possibly be attracted to her: she's too fat, too plain, not interesting enough. And at this point I'm getting rather irritated with her.
I've met a lot of wonderful, amazing women who read romance. Some of them are single with interesting careers. Some are married and stay at home to raise their kids. Some are just starting out, in the early twenties. Others have grown children and possibly even grandchildren. Romance readers come in a variety of shapes, sizes, ages. They are funny and smart and fearless and opinionated. What I really love is when I see one of them, who might not fit the public's version of thin and beautiful, show off her stuff. She might be a little heavier, not quite so pretty, but she's interesting and has a naughty sense of humor, and everyone wants to talk to her. She's might have a boyfriend or husband, but maybe not, and hey, she likes it like that. She's confident in who she is and in what she has to say. She has her bad days like anyone else, but she's not shocked when a cute guy asks her out. Instead she might be the one to do the asking. I want to know her. She's the kind of woman I want to read about.
I read my first adult romance when I was twelve, and I know there are a lot of girls today who are that same age that pick up their mom's romances and start reading them. Such an impressionable time in their lives. I worry that they will feel just as unworthy as the heroine and not be able to see beyond to the strength and imagination they themselves possess.
What about you? Do insecure heroines drive you up a wall, or do you think they are an accurate depiction of today's woman and easier to relate to? For those of you who are writers, what type of heroine are you compelled to write and how do you feel about creating a character who doesn't think she's good enough? I'm curious to know what drives an author to write about a female who just doesn't see her worth. Why can't there be more heroines who love who they are and the rest be damned?