What makes beauty?
Thinking someone is attractive is a very subjective thing. It’s all in the eye of the beholder. A beautiful woman with a poisonous attitude isn’t necessarily appealing. An ugly woman with a heart of gold may be. It just depends on who is doing the judging.
I try hard to keep this in mind when writing. In One More Day, Mackenzie finds herself to be chubby, boring, and completely forgettable, but Ryan doesn’t agree. He sees himself as a loser covered in tattoos, and assumes that every glance is a judgement against his past. Mackenzie doesn’t agree. This isn’t a problem that is confined to women, but something we all suffer through.
Society creates expectations. Boys see impossibly perfect (photoshopped) women, and treat them as the “norm”. Girls hear that, and think they can never be good enough. But it’s not just women who fall into this trap.
Every Romance novel cover out there has some beefcake with abs of steel and airbrush. Faces are stretched, pulled, smoothed, and reformed to be ideal, but look around. Dad bods and imperfection are amazing. Women fall for little things, like a twinkle in his eyes, the way he cradles his coffee so gently, or the sound of his laugh, but we never tell men this. We let society pressure them just as much as it does us, and in the end, we’re all convinced that we can’t be the beautiful hero in the story.
All of my heroes are real people, portrayed through the gaze of someone who finds them amazing. That doesn’t mean the entire world does. Read closer, and you’ll see the hints.