I happened to glance at the television the other night in time to see a shirtless man on a commercial for Dancing with the Stars. I’ve never watched the show, so perhaps that’s a common sight, but it startled me enough to blurt out—”That man’s not got a shirt on!”
Immediately, my 20-year-old daughter replied, “Mom! You sound like you think he’s hot!” Her shock was obvious. Apparently a middle aged mom isn’t supposed to notice when a man flaunts his good looks.
That got me to thinking about characters in books I’ve read, and I realized that nearly every protagonist is gorgeous, talented, sexy, wealthy and/or powerful, with an exciting life. Am I the only one who finds that kind of person so unbelievable that I can’t relate to them?
Years ago I got tired of reading about the wimpy young woman who needed a strong, rich man to rescue her from her problems. Later it seemed like all the women were strong, ambitious, and adventurous, and involved with equally wonderful men.
Is it because I’m getting old that I now appreciate protagonists that I can relate to, which means they have realistic jobs, an average appearance, and problems that are believable? I love suspense, fantasy, romance, and many other genres, but many times I’m disappointed in the characters. Sure, they need interesting problems and conflicts to keep me reading, but why do the characters have to be so wonderful that they make normal people pale by comparison?
What’s wrong with a middle-aged protagonist with a receding hairline, glasses, and an average job? Can’t those guys be romantic, attractive, or interesting? What about a woman who’s slightly overweight, with hair that won’t hold a curl and nails that aren’t regularly manicured? Where are the books about those people?
Lots of people meet challenges with strength and integrity, fall in love with someone who is less than perfect, solve complex problems, come up with brilliant ideas, and don’t depend on the shock value of going shirtless in public to gain attention. That’s the kind of person I find “hot.”
What about you? How would you define a “hot” man or woman? Have your tastes changed as you’ve grown older? What characters can you think of that might not fit the stereotype of an attractive male or female, but were appealing anyway? Name someone that you think is attractive, other than your spouse or significant other.