Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Weighty topics

(Relaxing after New York trip)

So somehow last night, we ended up talking about female characters and their body issues

"Why is it," one of the lovely people who came to Partners and Crime last night asked, "that so many mysteries focus on women who are naturally thin and never gain weight, women who are proudly heavy, or women who are heavy and obsess constantly about food and dieting?"

"Sales," came the obvious answer from more than one of us. "Weight is such a common concern that some marketing folks have pushed writers to make it a primary focus. The result: our dream (i.e., the characters who can eat anything), our runner-up dream (ok, I weigh too much - but I don't care), and our all too common reality (the weight obsession)." But is that really what we want to read? Do such characterizations make us feel better about who we are, or do they just feed our worst self-image neuroses?

While we were batting this around, I admitted that my Theda Krakow works out a lot more than I do (wish fulfillment - she runs, albeit irregularly; I peddle away at a stationary bike and read). But she's not obsessed, and she (like I) work out as much to relieve stress as to burn off calories. (Hey, it may as well be doing some good!) Besides, I get so many of my good ideas while I'm at the gym that my husband is now used to seeing me, dripping from the shower banging away at my computer keyboard. So, I figure it's good for me, as a 46-year-old woman and as a writer. But is it a good trait for a character?

After all (and you knew there had to be a tie-in here somewhere), cats don't exercise much. And they have absolutely no body image issues!


Sassy Brit said...

HELLO! Lovely to find you here, I shall add you to my blogroll!

I would like to say that I don't think every woman wants to read about a woman with a perfect body, and no weight problems, and if that's what publishers think, then I am afraid they have got it all wrong!

After all, characters are supposed to be realistic. Just how many model shaped women do we see wandering around the supermarket? LOL Great topic.

Take care, and have a lovely day!


Clea Simon said...

Thanks, Sassy, that's my take, too, but I didn't know if I was being willfully blind - particularly in this season of cookies and warm, spiced drinks.