Simmer Starters – March 20, 2015

Happy first day of spring, everybody!!  My favorite season. 🙂  And now for some controversial Simmer Starter links to start your weekend – hahaha.

You Don’t Have to be Pretty – on YA Fiction and Beauty as a Priority (The Belle Jar) – There’s a lot of discussion about gender in YA fiction these days.  I post this not because I necessarily agree with the contents (though some I do agree with), but because it raised an interesting question in my mind.  Is the focus on outward beauty for women rooted in something healthy and good, gone haywire because of sin?  Did God design us to desire outward beauty?  Is it an unhealthy result of the fall that women put such value on their looks (and men on women’s looks), or is there some deeper root to it that goes back to Creation?

Dear Gay Community: Your Children Are Hurting (Heather Barwick at The Federalist) – “You taught me how to be brave, especially when it is hard. You taught me empathy. You taught me how to listen. And how to dance. You taught me not be afraid of things that are different. And you taught me how to stand up for myself, even if that means I stand alone. I’m writing to you because I’m letting myself out of the closet: I don’t support gay marriage. But it might not be for the reasons that you think.”

And some not so controversial…

Why Children Need Chores (Jennifer Breheny Wallace at the Wall Street Journal) – I occasionally need the reminder that my children should be doing more chores.  This article points out that children are much more motivated by the phrase “being a helper” than just “helping.”  Interesting.

Our Everyday Obedience is Our Best Witness (J.D. Greear) – “Your Christianity is best measured by the relationships most people don’t see.  That’s a chilling thought for a lot of people. If God judged your faith only by your relationships in your home, how would you measure up?”

Five Ways to Make Your Characters Stand Out (Chris Winkle at Mythcreants) – Some great tips here for breaking stereotypes and making your characters unique.

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7 Comments

  1. Kessie

     /  March 20, 2015

    Interesting posts! The gay one is something I’ve thought about for a long time–kids crave the influence of both genders, and in a one-sided family like that, there’s terrible imbalance. But ooooh man, don’t read the comments. There is some terrible vitriol being thrown around. People are absolutely rabid on this topic.

    The beauty one, though, I didn’t get. “OMG A GIRL WHO IS LIKED FOR HER PERSONALITY!” This is seriously deserving of a whole blogpost? That’s one of the foundational tenants of the romance genre–mask and essence. In a love triangle, one guy loves her for her mask and one guy loves her for her essence, and the essence guy is the right one. That blogpost smacked of feminist high-fives to me. :-p

    Reply
    • I didn’t see there were comments on the gay marriage one…I don’t think I’ll even look! O.o

      I don’t know whether there’s a love triangle in Divergent (haven’t read/seen it) but I assume there is. 😛 That makes sense about the mask and essence. The post DID smack of feminism, and I didn’t like it per se, but I’m interested in the “body image” aspect of it. Feminists like to complain that people fixate on women’s exterior only instead of her brains, strength, etc. But fixating on our exterior as women has always been an issue – even the Apostle Paul wrote about it! So I wonder to myself if desiring to be outwardly beautiful is inherent to femininity in some way, but not masculinity, and feminists take issue with the dichotomy.

      Reply
  2. I loved the one on the children can be hurt by gay marriage. I had read that one before and it was so insightful.

    Reply
    • I loved it! I already knew, intellectually, that children need a mom and a dad and gay parenting robs them of one or the other. So the content of the argument was not new to me. But it was expressed so graciously, from someone who’s actually been there and experienced it, and I really appreciated that.

      Reply
  3. I see it another way. I once set out to “break the mold” and write a “normal” character. I never mentioned her being pretty once. She liked to wear crazy make-up and fun clothing. She worked hard, but she never ran or did a single sit-up, and she enjoyed junk food. And I mentioned her being curvy more than once. For all that, I had many female betas assume she was pretty. I went back over my text. Nothing there. They had read that into it–and had no problem with that. So I have another idea. People don’t just read to imbibe socio-philosophical agendas. They read for characters who are not necessarily them, and they read for escapism. In the first instance? Maybe, despite what agenda the author has, the character would just be pretty or even beautiful. There are ways of making that a liability, and also ways of expressing that beauty without making the character a Mary Sue. In the second instant? Escapism is a legitimate use for fiction, as long as it isn’t idolatry or otherwise unhealthy. And while sometimes it’s great to play against type and make some kind of statement about beauty–why not just go for a handsome prince and pretty princess, just once? A final thought: how about writing characters as full, rounded people, and not be obsessed about beauty or not-beauty? Chances are, if you really write all aspects of a character well, a reader will enjoy the story and not even think about physical attraction. That was another thing with my “normal” character. She had a good heart and was very sympathetic. And because of that, they saw her as pretty. Kind of an interesting twist on “inner beauty shining through” huh?

    Reply
    • Good thoughts! I think it’s a little silly for people to get “uppity” about characters being attractive. After all, in real life often people ARE attractive! In fact, I think most human beings are attractive or beautiful in their own way. 🙂

      You inspired some longer thoughts from me, which I’ll stick in a separate comment…

      Reply
  4. Some new thoughts…

    As people made in the image of a beautiful God, we desire beauty by nature. We know we live in a world where not everyone is “beautiful” (at the very least, not in the outward, physical sense), but we yearn for a perfect world where we are all beautified.

    I theorize that beauty is what tends to naturally come out of our imaginations – whether as readers or writers. God is beautiful, and created beautiful things…I’m sure there was nothing ugly before the fall! And as sub-creators we imitate Him in seeking and making beauty. We tend to want our heroes and heroines to be handsome and beautiful, outwardly. We’re just kind of wired that way. (Plot twist, though…the Bible tells us there was nothing comely about Christ’s outward appearance. All that is gold does not glitter! And there is definitely a time and place for making a statement by not focusing on the outward beauty of a character.)

    I know when I write stories, it’s rare for me to create a truly unattractive character. I have one main girl who *thinks* she’s ugly, but I consider all my protagonists good-looking in their own way. 🙂 I don’t tend to mention their attractiveness, though, unless I’m looking at that character through the POV of another character who has a crush on them. 😛 I just describe their physical characteristics, and leave it to the reader to consider them beautiful or not.

    Reply

I love to hear your thoughts!