Yes, I know novels are a form of escapism, but do we have to be so far from reality? Mainstream movies and TV shows are full of beautiful people with perfect teeth and bodies. Real life, on the other hand, is full of women with stretch marks and men who can't control their waistlines.
One fantasy writer, Jim Hines, has taken to striking poses commonly used in Fantasy and SF artwork and turned them into...well, take a look for yourself.
|[Image copyright held by Ace Books/Amy Hines, copied from BBC website]|
He's not alone. Joss Whedon was recently asked why he always has strong women in his shows. He replied, 'Because people like you are still asking that question'. If you look at his output there are strong female characters everywhere, but, sadly, often played by actresses with perfect teeth and bodies. C'est la vie.
I've tried to change things by having a balding, middle-aged man and a chubby woman as lead characters, but I wonder if we are drawn to the stereotypes? Maybe that idea of escape is what we long for, but do we really desire to be that thin, that muscular, that perfect? Is life so bad we wish to escape that far? Or are these images used as a marketing device to entice men to lust after, and then buy, the product?
Challenge the stereotypes in your writing, try ordinary characters in difficult situations and see what happens.