As a female, as a writer, and as an avid fan of all things “admirable heroine”, I find the subject of the “strong” female heroine becoming imbalanced and overburdened with grave misconceptions. What is it really that makes a female heroine “strong”? It seems to me that society in general is skewing what “strong” women really are.
The misconception is that our female character must lose her femininity in order to appear stronger.
And I have to strongly disagree.
By allowing this idea to erode confidence in femininity simultaneously humors the belief that there is only one kind of “strong” female heroine. And it discourages confidence in our natural strengths. The idea is that this heroine has to be more boyish or manly in her traits, her looks, her hobbies, and her attitude. She has to “win” by being manlier, stronger, better. But is that really a strong female heroine? And is there really just one kind of “strength”?
Our mind, our heart, our body- these are unique to who we are. Not our hobbies, favorite color, hair style, or what shoes we wear.
Femininity doesn’t limit women’s potential, as I think many women fear it does.
Further, it’s our resounding, admirable qualities as women that truly identify us and make us strong. And it is what we do with these qualities that decides how women affect society. Such priceless qualities make us unique. And when we hold fast to our positive qualities despite challenges that make us strong women.
These qualities, when held fast to, make for “strong” female characters as well.
Why do I say that? Why do I believe that these qualities make for a truly strong female character?
Because we see so few positive qualities in the world today. More often than not, challenges that face us test our ability to display such characteristics. Negative forces either external or internal berate our devotion to a positive life. And often it is this struggle that inspires our stories, our characters, our message to the world. And it is in our female heroines that our stories of struggle and overcoming darkness are relayed.
Despite the odds, despite the injustices, despite the pressures from society, your female heroine shouldn’t be afraid to respect and be proud of her femininity in its many forms.
Don’t shackle your female heroine to one cliched image of a “strong” female heroine.
We as writers have a responsibility to think outside the mainstream realm of what a truly valuable, memorable, strong female character is and try to reshape society’s image through our choices.
Is your female character going to positively affect society and reshape the idea of what makes a woman admirable?
Are you uncertain if your heroine is shaping up to be an unforgettable character?
Are you struggling to figure out your female character’s true purpose in your story?
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