I recently read a Twitter post stating they were changing there main character’s appearance to “average” to make her more “relatable” for female readers.
This is the moment I wish for an unlike button.
It’s not that book characters shouldn’t be average looking, by all means I’d appreciate it if more books were realistic. However, like gender swapping you can’t just change a character’s appearance and call it good, especially for women.
It’s sad, but true, culturally woman and girls are often valued by there looks.
If your character is beautiful it will change not only there confidence, demeanor, and mood, but it also will change how others react to her. This goes deep into character development in ways most of rarely think about or want to think about.
Here’s a personal example. I recently changed my profile picture from a fun, quirky photo(I’d just finished my first 5k race and was in great shape physically) to a serious and done-up photo (on my way to a wedding while 4 months pregnant, round is a shape…). No big deal right? Wrong. My Twitter account traffic is up, my interactions have increased, my blog following has increased. All because of a “prettier” picture.
Crazy. Sad. Fascinating. Take your pick.
It’s me in both photos but you have a different gut reaction to each.
What I’m getting at is looks matter deeply and psychologically to humans. Looking good increases our confidence and our ability to interact. The saying, “Dress for success” is not a joke it works in business and in life. Be careful about the character you paint with looks. If your hot college chick isn’t secure that says something else is going on- what is it? If your average girl is confident in her looks, why? Does she not give a care or does she have the maturity to appreciate herself?
Most of us don’t appreciate ourselves but you are beautiful just the way you are.
So don’t change your character’s looks on a whim to meet some marketing ploy or trick. Guys can be just as conscious about looks as girls can so don’t let gender fool you. If you do change it make sure you modify behaviors from and towards the character accordingly throughout your text. This isn’t an easy edit to make.
Our world is judgmental by default, sad truth. Be sure your characters reflect it.