I got together with an amazingly wonderful group of girls this past week, and I am always blown away by the deep and interesting topics these ladies bring up. We were sitting in the middle of a Victorian-themed party, giggling over teacups and dainty snacks, talking about how thankful we were that we didn’t have to wear long dresses in the hot summer months, let alone corsets that probably would have made us all pass out

Why is our perception of beauty so distorted? Photo from news.softpedia.com

before we had finished laughing. Then came the subject of beauty and how humans view beauty. This made me think of the Dove Evolution video, a 1-minute clip in which they airbrush and makeup a lady so much that the end product–which ends up on a billboard–doesn’t look remotely the same as the original woman. This also tied into another frightening thought: What won’t women do to be seen as beautiful? For instance, we mentioned foot binding in Asian countries, neck rings in Africa, and in my mind, I eventually connected the topic to anorexia in the US.

All this to say: We as a culture have ideals of what beauty is. Should characters reflect this? I think that more often than not, a perfectly beautiful protagonist is boring. She doesn’t have insecurities about her nose, she doesn’t compulsively check her complexion in every mirror or window she passes, and she definitely is not lacking in attentions from the opposite gender. And it does seem to matter how mentally-absent she is or that her personality is more limp than a dead fish; she always ends up with the guy. Why is that? I do believe that every girl is beautiful, but then why do I gravitate toward societal norms as to what a beautiful girl “should” look like? I don’t want to write clichés, so why do I still cling to this? What is the best way to escape it?

Do “plain” protagonists attract your attention more? Do you tend to be attracted to looks or personality? Have you ever tried playing with a protagonist (or a good supporting/minor character) who truly was just revoltingly disgusting? Share some experiences!