The article (at least the first one) quotes the descriptions of the heroines from the books.
Well, for starters, both Insurgent and Hunger Games are set in dystopias with occasional food shortages. And I'm not trying to say we shouldn't be looking critically at the trope of the bird-boned protagonist.
Perhaps not totally related, but when watching Haywire it was really refreshing to see a female protagonist who really gives the visceral sense that she could straight murder me with one hand.
I think they're more the equivalent of the weedy boy protagonists of many YA adventure stories who cater to the reader's wish-fulfillment fantasies that even a scrawny, unpopular outcast can eventually go on to save the world, get the girl etc.
I wonder if petiteness is employed because that is how many girls are presumed to see themselves on a figurative level, as a small figure in a busy landscape? Regarding Jennifer Lawrence's body type, there isn't really a logical reason to assume that her character would be thin, let alone stick-thin.
And in more adult fare, this archetype of the delicate-looking action hero often gets twisted into a fetish disguised as girl power. I think it is unfair to say that Joss Whedon is not sincerely supporting women in his writings. Fans debate whether she's supposed to be fat or just thinks she's fat, but Eleanor in Eleanor and Park is described by other people as being chubby. I know that there's probably enough written about how awful Twilight is and why, but I read all of those stupid books, and Bella's behavior is not the worst part of that story line. I'm sorry, but a 100 pound woman punching with near perfect efficiency isn't going to make much of a dent in a 260 pound man's chest. I was about to joke that I'd like to see a fantasy book in which the Kitchen Boy's long-honed turnip trimming skills actually play a part in the plot, but then I remembered that L.E. The whole waif-y heroine thing is a way of undercutting and minimizing whatever gender role transgressions having a girl assume traditionally masculine roles of being the active, assertive, go-getter. Part of the reason I made my characters small was wish fulfillment: from elementary school to high school I was taller and heavier than nearly all of the girls my age, and I wanted to be petite. None of the stories I tried to write as a teenager really went anywhere, which is probably for the best. Is there something about being a Slayer or psychic super-soldier that means that you have to be teensy-tinsy?
So, of course, these books are what we give to teenage girls whose bodies are developing in directions that they have no control over.
Yes, described in the series as increased speed, strength and endurance, but actually depicted on screen in terms of how she fights as either being denser than an ordinary human, or somehow being able to control her inertia and momentum in contravention of the laws of physics. For heroines with any meat on them, you pretty much have to go to webcomics, as far as I can see. To follow the David-and-Goliath trope, your David and your Goliath have to be distinct, and operating at opposite ends of the spectrum of assumed advantage. The heroines in the novels often talk in terms of their potential, of what's going to happen when they leave childhood behind and become a woman.
I was hoping to be the first to mention Tamora Pierce's Keladry books, but I see I'm a little late to that party. Those books (and the Alanna books, kind of - she is short, but I believe she is described as stout and, frankly, not very attractive) go into quite a bit of detail about how their heroines' physicality deviates from the feminine ideal. I would like to see more heroines whose appearance isn't even a factor, ones who are completely average.
This actually reminds me of an insight I read a while back about magical girl stories in anime.
But then their stories have to be partially about getting thin, finding boyfriends, and still feeling insecure.


I loved Tamora Pierce's Beka Cooper series, the way the fighting and training was depicted especially. And as such, she can just kick ass like a bare-knuckle boxer without even having to think about her technique.
I get the intent, and better camera work and choreography might've made it look like that was what was happening.
China Mieville's YA novel Un Lun Dun is told from the point of view of a slightly chubby, extremely average-looking girl. Also, a lot of these books are about the transition from childhood to adulthood and being smaller is a mark of childhood.
In some ways, this is one way that the pendulum is swinging away from the trope that women and smaller people need to be protected by Big Strong Men. I agree that that's good, and I'm glad tiny women have literary and media heroines to look up to, but what about the rest of us? Totally agree with you and feel you on this, but I don't think that petite (by which I mean 5'3 or less) = ideal. More media with female protagonists to begin with would be a good start, I think; maybe then there would be room for more of a variety of physical types. I agree with this oh so wholeheartedly, and I think the best route to it is more female writers getting opportunities, especially in film, TV and video games. Buffy is great, but things like Veronica Mars, where the scrawny protagonist isn't super-strong but just uses her brain to get out of hairy situations, are even better. When Jennifer Lawrence was cast as Katniss, there was a huge outcry (at least in my circles), that a Native American actress wasn't cast - Katniss's skin is specifically remarked as being olive, her hair straight and dark, and the presumed location of district 12 has a high Native American population.
I don't read much YA fiction (not due to lack of interest or anything), and I'd be really interested to see mention of other top titles. Katniss's parents came from opposite sides of the tracks, as it were, and she and her sister look fairly different, in a way that gets them treated somewhat differently in their society.
He thinks Bella is dead so he goes to Italy to get offed by the vampire equivalent of the Mafia. Lawrence seemed well cast to me in that she has a strong physical presence and doesn't look like a tiny delicate flower. But keep in mind that on the show she's routinely mocked for being, well, able to beat asses from daybreak to dusk. Like sure, she's tough as nails and calm under fire, but she also looks oh-so-pretty in a prom dress.
Between Sarah Michelle Gellar, Eliza Dushku, and Summer Glau his depictions of women fighting are informed by a kind of comic book physics style. Nearly all of my story ideas were what you'd expect from a teenage girl: a young female protagonist going on some sort of Virgin's Promise-type journey. But part of it was that I created protagonists that mirrored how I felt in real life, and I felt small and powerless. They were full of cliches, not the least of which was the scrawny girl trying to stand her ground in a huge, overwhelming world.
In much the same way that the reader of Mendelsohn can easily understand that Leonard doesn't fit in at Bat Masterson, the reader of Hunger Games can assume that Katniss is at a disadvantage in her very physical, hardscrabble environment. I'm not sure if the character was big, but you got the sense she was a bit stocky from training, and she makes excellent use of a club to whack the hell out of people. In the Divergent and Hunger Games series, the women are physically fighting and being smaller often puts you at a disadvantage when you fight people. Everything else being equal, it's harder for a petite woman to pass as an adult than a tall woman. I'm very petite and have to live with the knowledge that no matter how hard I train, any man, even a very out of shape one, even a drunk or high one, could take me down.


Petite women are infantilized in the workplace and socially, and taken less seriously than average-height women in general.
He never treated me like I was anything but his equal, and respected my privacy and my decisions.
It made it seem like he was an animal who could not control his hormones and I was nothing more than two breasts and a vagina.
Mandy Stewart also offers up her own advice: Be Divergent and Other Lessons for My Daughter. The first article is much more fleshed out (no pun intended), but it's mainly about the size of the heriones.
And the show tones down the abuse -- both from others and herself -- that she gets for her non-conventional interests and looks in the books. Of course, that feeds back into perpetuating the idea that Strong Girls™ must never be so strong that they'd intimidate the boys.
My protagonists were almost always overlooked outsiders with few social connections, and for the most part, they were short and slight. I have vivid memories from taking karate in my early teens when I was not quite 5 feet tall. Plus being a teenager is a time when one struggles between wanting to blend in and wanting to stand out.
The point is that he assumed that we were together just for sex, that even by virtue of being both his best friend and his girlfriend at that time, I did not deserve the time he gave me because I was born with a vagina, that my boyfriend liked spending time with me simply because he hoped to get inside my pants. Even in the decidedly more adult world of GoT, the female bruiser is still the outcast (even when she is also clearly a sympathetic character). I did have a couple of tall, powerfully built, confident female protagonists, but I didn't know what to do with them, and I kept coming back to the idea of the tiny waif coming into her own.
If someone is going to cite MAGIC!, I'd appreciate if they made some tiny efforts at making the explanation consistent with the depiction, or preferably leaving the explanation out entirely to avoid the inconsistency. The only way that I could compete against taller people was by becoming really flexible so I could kick people in the head, leading to a pulled groin muscle which is embarrassing at any age but especially 13.
YA literature frequently puts an emphasis on breaking away from blending in and wanting to stand out. It's a different kind of emotional body struggle than many other women have, but it's definitely a real one and for that reason it's really vindicating and fun to consume media that shows tiny women kicking ass. The point is that no one should be able to say something like that; no one should even be thinking along those lines.
AND, what I appreciate even more, the physical grunt work they have to do to become competent soldiers, and the changes it makes in their bodies.
I have no objection to depicting smaller women kicking ass, but it should be with finesse and joint manipulation or precision strikes to soft targets like eyes and throats.
While your friends get curves, you get elbows and knees that are slightly further away from the center of your body than they were a year earlier, but which are still just as pointy.
You feel like you're a year or two behind them, sort of waiting for your status to be upgraded to Woman from .
ArbitraryAndCapricious mentioned the wonderful Eleanor and Park, and boy did I identify with that character.



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