Friday, November 20, 2009

ARTICLE: The Atypical Heroine

The Atypical Heroine
by Jewel Amethyst

In romance, we dream of a fantasy land where heroines are uncommonly beautiful and the heroes are tall dark and handsome, not to mention rich. I’ve read so many books of women with exotic beauty snagging men with unbelievable wealth that I began to wonder, “Don’t ordinary women fall in love?”

Of course we want fantasy. Of course we want an escape from the realities of life. That’s what romance is about isn’t it? Maybe not.

I have learned over the years that even in our fantasy world we look for people we can identify with. Not every woman maintains a slender size 2 or a curvy size 6. We don’t all sport creamy flawless skin, endless lashes, high cheekbones and full sensuous lips. And we are not all tall with long shapely legs and a luxurious mane of thick shiny hair.

I have been toying for a while with the idea having a not so physically perfect female find her happily ever after (HEA). Hence I created Tamara Fontaine, atypical romance heroine of “A Marriage of Convenience”. Unlike most heroines, Tamara is short. She is what many would describe as a woman with “more to love” as she yo-yos between a size 16 and a size 22. She loses weight, and gains it right back.

She is also financially strapped and emotionally devastated. She was stood up at the altar by a con-artist she’d fallen in love with. She was robbed of all her savings and in credit card debt. Worst yet she was unemployed thanks to a bad job market and corporate downsizing and unable to pay her mortgage. In fear of losing her home she agrees to a green card marriage where the deal includes financial help for her. But things quickly turn from a marriage of convenience to a marriage of love as her handsome foreigner husband begins to fall in love with her.

The thing about Tamara is that she meets her hero at her lowest point in her life. She doesn’t lose weight to meet her man. She doesn’t dig herself out of her financial difficulties or win a lottery. She is in fact at her heaviest and her most vulnerable point in life when the romance is ignited. Yet her husband, Ghanaian born scientist Kwabena Opoku, sees in her beauty, not the overt physical beauty of a supermodel, but the kind that’s generated on the inside and radiates out. And he is captivated by it.

Yes they do find their happily ever after. She doesn’t have to lose weight to find it. And even though she does lose weight in the book, she remains a plus size woman, and she gains it right back. Isn’t that the story of the average American? Oprah Winfrey certainly taught us a lot about losing weight. For the average person, it is a struggle to maintain and we often gain it right back.

But the point is, we can have our happily ever after without being physically perfect. Everyone can find love. And love can overcome all obstacles, even the self imposed ones.

Tamara Fontaine is indeed an atypical heroine of a romance novel, but she is a woman most of us can identify with. I hope to see more romance heroines that reflect the average person. After all, won’t we all like to have our own HEA?

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