03-23-19 – Paty Jager – All Feelings Are Universal

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Heroines Don't Have To Be Beautiful by Dora Bramden

I recently became engaged. Ahhh! When Sam asked me it was a huge thrill. I posted Our Romantic Proposal Story on my website blog last Sunday. The fact that I'm in my mid 50's and weigh more than I ever have, when the man I love proposed, reminded me of a post I put up in 2016 about heroines not needing to be perfect in the way they look. 

You see I'm the heroine of my own life, ( That's a line from the movie 'The Holiday' that resonated with me ).  I now wear a lovely diamond ring and am looking forward to our wedding in late 2019. When I met Sam, I suspected he would be my happily ever after, and I was right. I found a keeper, a man worthy of a kind hearted loving woman who doesn't need to be thin or young and beautiful to have love and romance in her life. 

Heroines D
on't Have To Be Beautiful

Heroines in romance novels seem to be always beautiful and slim, right?  Bertrice Small’s Sky O’Malley, had perfect skin unmarked by a single blemish. I loved that book but I also love it when an author goes against the trend and creates a less than perfect body type in a heroine who’s perhaps past her prime or has a plump figure.

In the book ‘Where The Heart Is’ by Billie Letts, the heroine, Novalee Nation, is overweight. I know, the movie version cast a tiny actress for the role but its heart and soul was born from the book that had had a less than perfect body heroine. Hero, Forney Hull, sees her inner beauty. He’s fascinated by Novalee when she visits the library to find out how to save her sick tree.

There is no perfect body, of course, and beauty really is in the eye of the beholder. As in Anne Gracie’s ‘The Perfect Rake’, hero, Gideon shows us. He falls in love with plump (by Georgian standards) Prudence; he admires her figure a number of times. She’s his kind of beautiful. She has a “mother hen” nature in taking care of her sisters that he loves too. He’d sworn off marriage but in Prudence, he finds the kind of woman he could spend a lifetime with and it’s his brand of attractive.

My favorite reunion-story, ‘Persuasion’, by (I don’t need to tell you but I simply must give her credit) Jane Austen, has the heroine, Anne Elliot, a faded version of her younger self. Poor heroic, heartbroken Captain Wentworth claims to barely recognize her she’s so changed. If this isn’t proof that she’s not the prettiest girl in the room, he drives it home by giving all his attention to the pleasing Miss Musgroves.  So much attention th
at by the time he realizes Anne is the only one he could ever love, her status as more attractive than any other has returned, but he’s created expectations in one Miss Musgrove that may divide him from Anne forever.  That his foolishness costs him a few sleepless nights is his just deserts.

All heroines have an inner beauty. They’re understanding and compassionate but flaws are fine, even physical ones. I’ve read lots of Mills and Boon Sexy and Desires with heroines who’ve been scarred or suffered burns, but their hero isn’t put off by them. For me, it makes the HEA all the sweeter because I want life to compensate her for her pain and I’ve become so invested in her worthiness of being loved by a good man.

Let’s acknowledge that most of us have something we feel a bit insecure about even though we know we shouldn’t. Fiona Lowe’s Ruby and Rita winning ‘Boomerang Bride’ has a secondary character who is dealing with physical disfigurement. I became so deeply invested in her journey and felt sad for her, but it was a joy to watch her find the courage to deal with real life issues and be valued and loved.

I guess we all want acceptance, so seeing a heroine who’s not beautiful in the traditional sense find love, reassures us that everyone is worthy of happiness as these heroines are. 
Christina Aguilera summed it up. “You are beautiful, no matter what they say.”

Dora Bramden writes contemporary romance. Find out about her books on her Amazon author page.
Follow Dora on Instagram or Facebook


Sarah Raplee said...

I loved this post! In the past few years I've run across a few more heroines (and heroes) who are not beautiful or perfect physically, but who deserve love, as we all do. Those are my favorite books.

I'm so glad you and Sam found each other, Dora. Congratulations on your engagement.

Maggie Lynch said...

I too love imperfections in our heroes and heroines. As romance writers, most of us have no compunction talking about imperfections of the soul but we don't reach for physical imperfections.

It so happens the book on writing at this exact moment is about a 46 year old woman and a 50 year old man. Both have lost many things in life and now she faces cancer, which will change things about her body and about how she can or can't use to to show physical love. Of course, this is a romance so you know there is an HEA in the end.

I've found, as I've grown older that physical things are not the most important. My husband and I married when I was 42 and he 44. I was, and still am, overweight. Yet he found plenty to love with me. He is not physically like the heroes on romance novels either, yet I adore him. Eighteen years later I can't imagine life with anyone else.

I hope you and Sam have lots of time to plumb the secrets of your love, and I'll bet it will give you even more reasons to write romances with people who are not perfect physical specimens but are perfectly in love.

Barbara Strickland said...

Great post and so true. I loved your story.

Dora Bramden said...

Thank you Sarah. Glad you enjoyed the post.

Dora Bramden said...

Hi Maggie. Congratulations on your happy marriage. The book sounds great. Thanks.

Dora Bramden said...

Thank you,Barbara. So pleased you enjoyed my story.

Judith Ashley said...

Dora, Thank you for sharing your own love story as well as some great romance novels. I'm excited that RWA in the US has a focus on diversity and disabilities and encouraging writers to include both in their characters.