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Female Characters In YA

FemaleCharactersInYaI was thinking about this the other day, as I read the tenth book with a red-haired green-eyed heroine. 2% if the population has red hair. Only about 2% of the population has pure green eyes. And yet, it’s becoming super likely to find a heroine who’s red-haired and green-eyed.

As I thought more about this, I realized there seems to be a lot of trends going around YA.

  • Red hair and green eyes. Like I said, very, very few of people in the world actually have one or the other, and even fewer have this combination. Yet I can think of tons of YA heroines who do. Puck from the Scorpio Races. Tory from the Virals series.
  • Being short. Look, I’m not saying that someone who’s five-foot-one couldn’t stop a war. I’ve got a cousin who’s tiny but if you mention that you might just end up dead. But, again, I don’t meet tons of super short teenage girls. I think the shortest person I know who’s my age or older is only a half an inch shorter than me, and I’m 5’3″.
  • Being described as slender yet super curvy. It just doesn’t work like that. When I picture slender, I picture someone without a lot of curves. Not huge breasts, no big hips, just a very straight, almost boyish, sort of build.
  • Not describing themselves as pretty. I get that not everyone is drop-dead gorgeous, but still. When you imagine Annabeth or Katniss or Tris or someone like that, based on their descriptions, you imagine them being pretty. But they never actually say that, they seem to think that they aren’t good looking. POSITIVE BODY IMAGE, THAT’S WHAT I WANT. Seriously, is it really too much to ask for?
  • The stupid love-triangle thing, or the eyes-meet-across-the-room-and-I-knew-I-was-in-love-thing. First off, if you can’t choose between two people, I don’t think you really love either of them. Secondly, falling head-over-heels in love with someone without saying two words to them doesn’t guarantee the lifelong romance everything seems to get. You’re enamored with someone, not in love.

I’m sure there are tons more, but these are the ones that I think bug me the most. It’s something to really think about when you write, because it often feels like almost every heroine has all of these traits, even though it doesn’t really fit with real life.

Happy Friday,

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9 thoughts on “Female Characters In YA

  1. DUDE YES. TO ALL OF THESE. I wrote a list of all the red-haired heroines I could think of once and…it was a long list. >_> I’m not 100% sure about the green eyes part, but there’s also Hazel from The Darkest Part of the Forest, Clary from The Mortal Instruments, America from The Selection, and…like a million others. It does bother me. Like red hair is supposed to be something “special’?! Not that I’m saying it’s NOT. But I like realism. XD

    Positive body image would be nice in books too…I get that these are teen girls with flaws, but it’s so frustrating to read about a girl who swears she’ll “never get a boy”…and then by the end she has like a triangle?! SAY WHAT.

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    1. EXACTLY! I was sleep deprived when I wrote this so I couldn’t think of more than two, but there’s a super long list of red-haired heroines and it’s pretty frustrating. AND JUST BECAUSE SOME GIRLS DON’T HAVE POSITIVE BODY IMAGE DOESN’T MEAN WE ALL DON’T.

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  2. So many gingers- Clary from The Mortal Instruments, Ginny from Harry Potter etc. And I mean, I think the whole short turned is just so that the author can show that even if you think you’re small, weak, frail, and no able to “protect yourself” that you can take down your totalitarian government. I understand and personally feel all of these things on a personal level though.

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    1. Still, though. And if you’re tiny and weak like how Tris is portrayed, or Clary, you can’t take down people twice your size like they do. You’d still be short, but you’d have quite an impressive bit of muscle.

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      1. I know exactly what you’re talking about, and see as a writer I try to differ when I make characters and then when I read this post I realized that I was also doing the unrealistic thing with height. I think sometimes it’s just a subliminal thing that you want to show people how you can do things no matter how tall you are and whatnot.

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  3. I think yes to most of these as well, although I don’t feel like I come across many short main characters. I remember being shocked when Tris was described as short. I always felt they were lacking as lead characters. But maybe it’s because I notice it more, as I am only 5ft myself. And have a sister who is even shorter than me.

    The red hair and green eyes is so overdone!!!! It needs to stop!

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