Let's stop doing this, shall we?

Saturday, October 6, 2012

There's this scene that appears in every novel ever written that features a teenage girl protagonist*.

It's the old 'catch my reflection in the mirror and talk about how much I hate my appearance for three pages' scene.

This scene occurs near the start of the book. It begins like this: "I look at my dark, shiny hair, deep brown eyes and tanned skin in the mirror" and then devolves into "Why am I so ugly? Unlike my mum/best friend/sister, who is the most beautiful woman alive and gets lots of ~male~ attention. My life is terrible!" 

The characters who think they are unattractive all seem to have physical characteristics that are considered very attractive in the Western world. But whether the character is conventionally attractive or not doesn't matter. It is still a very annoying scene.

Please don't tell me people in the real world actually do this.**

I am very tired of stories about self-loathing conventionally-attractive teenage girls realising their worth and beauty because of ~true love~. I feel this narrative is both overused and irresponsible.

In summing up:

Dear Writers of these sorts of scenes in these sorts of novels,

Please stop perpetuating the idea that all teenage girls should hate their appearance.

Please stop perpetuating the idea that all teenage girls should value themselves largely based on their appearance.

There are plenty of other kinds of teenage self-loathing to write about! Or more creative ways to write about this one, that don't involve 1) 'the mirror scene', 2) resenting an attractive friend, or 3) whether the protagonist is liked by boys being of utmost importance.


Steph Bowe

P.S. Don't say 'but this is how all teenage girls are in the real world! This is real!' I would say this is influenced by the fact that popular culture/the media is telling them to behave this way. We need to make people liking themselves/their appearance more acceptable.

*If you had to do a breakdown of 'persuasive language techniques' in my blog posts for school, which of course you don't but I'm speaking hypothetically here, this would be an example of hyperbole.

**Every time I see a mirror, here in the real world***, I say: 'Hey! Steph Bowe! Love your work!' And then I get my autograph.

***Not 100% sure this is the real world. You might just be in a coma dream! Well done on inventing me. I'm great. You're very imaginative.
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