Why I Hate Ugly Duckling Stories (in Theory)

by Lori, @lorisizemore on 03.18.2016

in writing

(I say in theory because I’m sure I’ve read and loved a few. I’m definitely not putting down anyone else’s writing. I think the right person can tell any story and make it great. But, back to the subject.)

ducklingPygmalion. My Fair Lady. Pretty Woman. You can call them transformation stories, but at their heart, it’s ugly duckling syndrome. And they just get under my skin. Here’s why:

There’s something ‘not enough’ about the hero/ine.

Don’t get me wrong, I know that protagonists need to have flaws. There’s no character growth without imperfection.

What I take issue with is the unlovableness (I made that word up) of a woman until she is made prettier, or shinier, or softer around the edges.

It’s so shallow.

Which leads me to this problem. When we’re talking flaw, we’re discussing a deep issue. It’s not something a haircut is going to help the heroine change.

A person shouldn’t have to change to be acceptable.

Did Julia Roberts need to not be a prostitute to be in a relationship? Sure, that’s fair. But didn’t he like her realness, the parts that made her different from the society women he had already discarded? Yes. Yes, he did.

A change doesn’t need to make a person lovable.

It needs to make them able to love as a fully-developed, healthy human being.

Do you have any books or movies that you think did this well? Or, conversely, did it badly?

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Four reasons ugly-duckling syndrome makes me want to wall-bang a book. #romance #blog Click To Tweet

 

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