I never liked Cinderella, Aurora, or Snow White. Instead, I found myself admiring characters like Mulan and Anastasia, women who were strong and didn’t need a man to save them. However, even in the 90’s, these characters were sparse, and there was still this misconception that strength wasn’t beautiful.
Today, girls are growing up with powerful role models like Moana and Katniss, among many others. It’s wonderful seeing women taking the lead, going on their own adventures, and fighting their own battles. Quite frankly, I still want more of it.
But recently, it feels like the strong female character has become more about a trope than representing real women, especially in young adult literature. There’s Celaena, the badass assassin; Eliana Ferracora, the feared bounty hunter; and Mare Barrow, the bitter thief. There’s this trend where the female protagonist’s strength comes from a place of anger, crime, and darkness. And while there’s nothing wrong with that, this isn’t the only way to represent strength.
While I understand that a tortured hero makes for an interesting story, there’s something to be said about a person who discovers their strength, not someone who has always had it. I think there’s something to be said about vulnerability, because being vulnerable does not mean being weak. And I think that darkness shouldn’t always be equated with strength.
I suppose, more than anything, that this is a trend. While I like it just as many other readers, I think it’s growing tired. More often than not, it feels like the authors only wanted to create a shocking female lead, so they crafted a “personality” and history around that idea. Essentially, plot and character development seems to come second to the shock factor, kind of like directors who go wild with special effects just because it looks cool.
Personally, I’d like to see less orphans with a tragic past or whatever, and more characters stemming from a more mundane background. After all, not every strong heroine has to have a troubled past or a deadly career.
In the end, there isn’t anything wrong with this trope. Honestly, I love a good female lead. But it would be nice to see something different, instead of the same old character in the same familiar situation.
So what do you think? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below! 🙂