Love thyself. And cats.

cats

This drifted across my twitter feed this morning, and made me laugh far louder than is decent. There’s no life lesson that can’t be improved with cats.

On a more serious note, body angst is something that so many people deal with every day. We might think of ourselves as a series of interchanging parts, where this bit should be bigger, that bit should be smaller, and then everything will be ok. Except, we’re not cars. We’re people, with bodies that are capable of so much more than fitting into somebody else’s mould.

One of the first pieces of (unsolicited) advice I received when I first started writing romance is that you should always be positive about the woman’s body. You can be as idealistic with her suitor as you want, rippling muscles, the whole bit. It is, after all, a fantasy escape for many readers. But for the woman you shouldn’t be afraid to put in “flaws”, as long as you talk about them positively.

I was slightly confused by this advice. Not because I disagreed with it, but more that the person (a respected editor who know the industry well) felt it was necessary to mention. Shouldn’t we always talk about the women in our books positively? Have a range of gorgeous people, who spark desire in others? Particularly in romance, where bodies will be talked about, sometimes in great detail?

I live a lot of my life according to the principle that the personal is political. I make choices every day knowing that it could impact someone else’s choices, and trying to leave the world slightly better than how I found it. So I suppose while this idea of body positivity wasn’t new to me, perhaps it would be to others. Perhaps while I hadn’t even considered it to be an issue, maybe others wouldn’t have considered it to be a problem.

Anyway, I love the cat advice. Make like a cat today, and love your cute behind no matter what shape it is. And maybe find someone who’ll make you purr.

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5 thoughts on “Love thyself. And cats.

  1. Here here, that’s too true. When I first started writing I was always told to give your characters flaws mainly to avoid them becoming a “Mary Sue” or a character that’s too perfect. But now I just write characters that appeal to my readers and ensure that the flaws that I give them have a purpose or reason for being there. Whether it be to flesh out backstory or develop the character’s personality.

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  2. I think the advice was more meant to avoid the angst that often comes up in narrative (personal or otherwise) when a woman discusses her flaws. A lot of romance is written like a diary, or at least very close 3rd person, so if she bemoans the “jiggle on her thighs” instead of “her curves” it sends a different message. I agree with you, though. 🙂

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  3. I love this. My mum has almost completed a book and one of the characters in it is a far cry from perfect or flawless and she found that when she wrote about her imperfections she made it almost comedic and she said she felt bad that she’d done that. Why did wobbly bits, scars, hairy knees have to be a joke, something to laugh at, why couldn’t they just ‘be’? I know she went back and found that everywhere there was a move intimate encounter for this character it always descended into comedy. She edited it and injected her humour in other places, some of the scenes were funny but she left them in only if they were legitimately needed for the plot and the humour was not solely at the expense of the ‘flawed’ character. She said that in the beginning this character was meant to represent a normal, average, every day middle aged woman and yet she became a caricature and she felt bad that she had allowed that to happen to her.

    Liked by 1 person

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