|Okay, not this young!|
So why aren’t romance heroines more reflective of their target market demographics? I have a (no doubt very unpopular) theory about that.
First, let’s set aside talk about historical romance, which almost necessitates a young heroine (when you’re considered over-the-hill at 21, that skews things a bit ;-) But other genres could very well lend themselves to older heroines, right? They could include older heroines who have lived and loved and learned, just like we have, and have survived to tell about it. They could include heroines who don’t have to deal with the tedious drama of being young. Who know who they are and what they want in life because they’ve earned the right to be that secure.
My question is: Don’t we already have those heroines?
Isn’t age just a number? By saying we need older, wiser heroines, you assume everyone in their forties has it all figured out. And that no one in their 20s does. Maybe it’s me—I admit I often feel like a hot mess of a 16-year old trapped in a 40*cough*cough*-year old’s body—but I don’t write my heroines to reflect what I was like back in my 20s and 30s (Dear God, those would be boooooring, tediously insecure heroines!). My heroines--all two of them so far--blossom from where I am now: a slightly older, mature, wizened, worldly woman. Sure, they struggle with the age-old question of “what they want to be when they grow up.” But so am I. My heroines are my way of reliving “then,” knowing what I know now.
I bring to my characters the little bit of worldliness and maturity I’ve been able to piece together over the years. Hopefully, that makes them better at being “young” than I was. And, hopefully that also makes them people even older readers can identify with.
In addition, I write heroines in their mid-twenties because I write hot sex that tends to be a little more gymnastic that what I can personally handle at my age. I don’t want to write about aching joints and bodily noises and having to sneak sex in between parenting responsibilities… which is what I have to deal with in real life. Romance (and the sex that goes with it) is an escape for me. I want to watch young, beautiful people getting’ it on in my media entertainment, and I similarly want to read about beautiful bodies doing the nasty in my books. Again, maybe it’s just me, but as much as my hubby tells me I’m beautiful and sexy, he doesn’t see me like I do. However, in the head of a heroine, I can set that self-doubt aside and feel what it’s like to be beautiful ('cuz, even with all their flaws and insecurities, my heroines are always prettier, skinnier, and sexier than I’ve ever been or will ever be).
While I’m lost in the POV of my heroine, I get to live vicariously through her. I get to experience danger, adventure, travel in space and interact with aliens, and make love to a smokin’ hot hero who loves me unconditionally, doesn’t ever stink of sweaty ass and lawnmower fumes, and never nags me about the pile of dirty dishes in the sink. And I get to do it without worrying about favoring my bad hip, any rolls of fat getting in the way, or if there is any left-over toilet paper shrapnel “down there.”
If I wanted real life all the time, I would just live in mine.
So, while I understand the desire to see heroines who appear to be more like us older women. I felt the need to offer up these (hopefully valid) reasons why there may still be such an emphasis on younger (in age alone) ones. Let me know your thoughts. And don’t be afraid to disagree. Just be gentle… I have a bad hip. J