Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Vertically Challenged Male

Well? What do you think? Is height a determining factor for you?

Too often when I read romance novels (or erotic stories) the male hero is always described as this tall, lanky hunk of a man. Taller than average. Bigger than average. Stronger than average.

But why?

In real life, does height and physical strength really matter all that much? Are shorter (smaller) guys just doomed and is there really no place for them in leadership roles?

I say NO. (As does my boyfriend--who happens to be a whopping 5ft 6in). In his own words my lovey says: "It shouldn't matter how tall you are, it's how you feel about yourself!" And I couldn't agree more. Confidence is sexy regardless how tall you are!

So why do we (as consumers) constantly sideline the vertically challenged in favor of taller, bulkier men? Like the female physique, are we setting impossible standards for men? Not every guy out there can look like Brad Pitt, and nor should he be expected to, however whenever we think of the classic "hero" character he is always the same 6ft+ with the rock hard 6-pack abdominals.

As a feminist, I can only imagine what it must be like for men who feel they must compete with this impossible image. And as a psychologist-to-be, I know it has led to things like "manorexia" and "body dysmorphic disorder." You don't hear very much about it from males, (as it isn't very "macho" to talk about this stuff) but men are negatively affected by these images. And as writers, we can play a part in how we reach our readers.

I think we have a responsibility to both men AND women (of all backgrounds) to represent them fairly and as nicely as possible.

Your thoughts?


Erobintica said...

Being on the short side myself, I've always found that I tend to personally prefer not to be towered over by my partners. I actually don't tend to focus much, if at all, on the height of my characters in my writing. At least not yet.

Vegetarian Cannibal said...

Thank you for commenting, Robin!

I never really thought about the height of my characters either UNTIL I started noticing a pattern in other books I read. Regardless the genre (fantasy, sci-fi, romance, etc.) the "hero" was always described the SAME way! You'd be surprised once you start looking out for it. Especially in romance. :D

Anonymous said...

Most people just aren't attracted to short guys. That's why there aren't a lot of short guys in heroic leads. I prefer taller men, myself.

Vegetarian Cannibal said...

I don't know about that...there are plenty of short male celebrities women can't get enough of. Tom Cruise, Michael J. Fox, Danny Devito, etc.

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