Books Magazine

What Heroines Should We Look Up To?

By Theliteraturelion @LiteratureLion
Last summer I made a post about what I wanted in female characters. I described them as "smart, yet bad-ass female protagonists."

Recently, I read an interview with Veronica Roth and Leigh Bardugo on Entertainment Weekly.

It starts out by asking Leigh her favorite things about Veronica's novel.

"I’m glad we live in an age of badass heroines, and I think Tris’ toughness feels real to me because she never loses her humanity and because she truly has to grow into her strength." -Leigh BardugoIt's entirely true. We live in an age where we look up to the characters that are strong and in all aspects: quite amazing. For example, there are characters like June Iparis, Katniss Everdeen, Mila 2.0 - all characters we look up to and you see them and say "I want to be like them."

"I also like that you don’t let your characters off easy. I think in YA there’s sometimes a temptation to create heroines who are infinitely resilient and wise and confident because those are the behaviors we want to see teens embrace and maybe we want to see those things in ourselves. We aren’t always comfortable witnessing real frailty or vulnerability in our heroines, but I like characters who struggle, and doubt, and who don’t always do the wise thing." -Leigh Bardugo
This statement was what really made me think. There are so many characters that you just look at and seem to be intelligent an always a step in front of everyone else. Especially in dystopians/paranormals. These characters always seem to be able to get out of the grasp of the bad guys and rise to their own victory.
"[Alina]'s also smart and strong, I would say, but she doesn’t suffer from what you’re describing above, that almost superhuman resilience. She’s a strong character who is also insecure a lot of the time, unsure of herself, and she makes big mistakes and errors in judgment throughout the books, and I find that really appealing, as a person who makes big mistakes and errors in judgment myself." -Veronica RothI feel that Alina from Shadow & Bone as well as Tris from Divergent epitomize the characters we should look up to. They're smart and bad-ass, yet we've seen them make many mistakes that pushes themselves as well as others into the eye of danger. They rise up from their failures and show that they're capable of being strong in spite of their mistakes.
Also, I admire how it's pointed that Alina and Tris aren't attractive. Alina is scrawny and underfed, with pointed features; Tris is child-like and hasn't yet filled out. When inside the male character's head, you wouldn't expect them to admire these girls for their appearance at first. They are drawn to these girls for their vulnerability, yet their ability to show strength at times.
This may seem directed towards the dystopian/supernatural aspects, but in a sense, isn't that who we look up to?
I don't know the last time I heard someone say "Oh, I want to be like Echo from Pushing the Limits because she's vulnerable, yet strong." No. Usually you hear "Oh, I want to be like Echo because she has Noah." We admire these girls because they have the swoon-worthy guys.
Isn't Echo no different than Alina and Tris? They all had a hardship and then rose up to be something great? They're not stuck up characters, boasting about their abilities, and even they need guidance at times. They aren't these all-mighty characters we regularly look up to like Katniss Everdeen or Rose Hathaway.
I'm just saying, let's give the underdogs some appreciation.

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