There are many things about this trope that bug me. The biggest issue for me is the way it renders heroines to be utterly passive wrecks with no self-belief. I understand lacking in self-confidence. I’ve been there many times myself. However, it becomes incredibly tiring once you see the trope repeated over and over again and almost entirely coming from young women. It sets in place a deep-seated assumption about young women and the importance placed on looks.
Why is it so uncommon to see a YA heroine, or heroine of any category or genre, happily own her attractiveness? I would love to see a YA where the female protagonist knows she’s sexy and just gets on with her life without needing validation from a stock romantic hero. Of course, then there are the issues of how we perceive women who talk of their own attractiveness. There’s still a pretty unfair and gross generalisation of such women as “smug” or “bitches”, and the appearances of such women are then sneered at by both men and women. “She’s not that pretty” is all too often said, as if the standards of beauty placed upon girls and women weren’t ridiculous and unattainable. Indeed, the attractive female characters who exhibit some sort of body confidence are often smeared as “sluts” or “whores” because it’s seen as a sign of sexual promiscuity, something that the “good” girls don’t do. The reader is supposed to empathise with the shy but gorgeous protagonist who the boys love but has no self-belief, not the “slut” who dares to show some skin."
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Also, this post contains RuPaul. You better work!