Anyone reading romance or writing romance will understand THE RULES. Oh yes, there are rules. And I’m not just talking about the girl getting her guy in the end. Or the guy getting his guy in the end and sometimes – hopefully more often in the future – the girl getting her girl in the end. Nope, I’m talking about the other rules.
In conventional romance your average heroine is white. You have to do quite a bit of searching to find yourself an Indian heroine in conventional romance, or an Armenian heroine, a Turkish or Asian heroine. Italian is okay. Russian? Maybe. African? If anyone has read a conventional mainstream romance heroine from one of the African nations, any nation, please let me know, I want to read that book.
Religion? Well, there’s a sticky tricky one. Don’t want to offend anyone do we? So we’re better off keeping our characters Christian, right? Maybe a hint of atheism is okay but not too much... otherwise you’re steering into those tricky topics like *gasp* abortion and women’s rights.
And I’ll concede that these are all pretty political topics and I can’t blame readers looking for escapism for shying away from them. And I can definitely understand genre fiction writers wanting to stay away from controversial topics as well. Anyone having a look on Goodreads of late will see that the average debut writer gets bombastically criticized for breathing, so imagine the response if they wrote something seeking to engender a bit of debate. Given that the average writer only makes enough to buy one coffee a year, why would they subject themselves to all the drama?
HOWEVER, there is one particular topic in romance that only an intrepid few tackle, one which shouldn’t be taboo, and I want to know what the hell is going on. And I’m putting myself up for questioning as well since I’m just as guilty of this one. The topic I’m talking about is...acne.
Yes! Adult freakin’ acne. Spots, pimples, hormonal face bumps. Big pores, red face, you name it. Why can’t the un-pretty pretty heroine for once in a freakin’ while have acne? And not just one zit *gasp*. Why can’t she have a break out and feel really blah so that every broad in the world out there who gets that-time-of-the-month blotchies can go “YES! You’re like me! Maybe there will be a hot plumber, rollicking sex and a total life makeover in my future too!” Or at least something like that...
There are some brilliant exceptions to this rule and, much like plus-sized heroines or heroines of different races, it’ll take time for spotty girls to become ‘mainstream’. But every woman, whether big, small, short, tall, brown, white, pink or orange fake tanned, gets acne. So why is it such a no-go topic? Are we all so ashamed, embarrassed, and grossed out by acne that it’s unmentionable?
That seems ridiculous considering that more and more women get acne in their twenties, thirties, forties and even fifties nowadays. It’s probably got a whole lot to do with hormonal food (but who the hell really knows?) What I do know is that when I look in the mirror on those days when the ol’ ego isn’t up to scratch, and all I see is acne scars and big pores, is that I don’t have a go-to romance heroine I can consult that’ll make me feel that little bit better.
And isn’t that what romance is about? Making us feel okay?