I absolutely loathe romances in which all one or the other brings to the relationship is beauty, and the reader is clearly expected to think that sufficient unto itself. Feh.
Oh, yes! Oh, yes, indeed!
I also hate the assumption that beauty=goodness, that beauty is something that everyone agrees about, and that beauty is something everyone aspires to.
Don’t get me wrong, finding someone aesthetically pleasing is kind of important if a romance is to happen. But I have never gone out with anyone (for more than a sec) who didn’t have something else going on as well. And, frankly, smarts and humour are vastly more important to me than anything else.
For a romance to work you have to engage with both of the lovers. If one of them only has beauty then that’s the end of my interest because the only people I’ve ever met who went out with people solely because of their hotness have been shallow and gross and not folks I want to spend any time with. Certainly not a whole novel’s worth of time. Erk.
I’m also irritated by books where everyone agrees that the hero or heroine or both is hot. I’ve never known anyone who was a universally acclaimed beauty. There’s always someone who looks at the so-called beauty and shrugs. For example, I don’t get the appeal of Gwyneth Paltrow, Paris Hilton, Matt Damon, or Leonardo diCaprio. They all look plain and boring to me. I also find it hard to see beauty in stick-thin men or women. I look at them and think, “Oh, honey. I know where we can get you some really good pasta followed by olive oil ice cream.”
So when in a book everyone is falling over themselves about the beauty of one character I don’t believe it. I’ve never seen that kind of over the top response to a person’s looks.1 Not unless they’ve swallowed a love potion of something. I know it’s a cliche but beauty really is in the eye of the beholder.
One of the many things I adore about Pride and Prejudice is that not everyone agrees that Elizabeth is beautiful or Darcy handsome. They don’t even think it of each other on first meeting. Their attraction slowly grows. And millions of readers over the last almost two hundred years have totally bought it.
- The only times I’ve seen everyone stop and stare is when a person is Bill Clinton or Halle Berry. Fame is the real head turner. [↩]