Monday, November 25, 2013

Monday Musings: Stereoptyping and diversity in books

I have seen a lot of discussion on stereotypes and diversity on various blogs that I follow.  And I am in total agreement with them - why aren't  there more Hispanic girls as main characters or Korean love interests or black best friends?  But there's more to all of this than protagonists:  I'm talking mean girls.

- A mean girl is attractive.  Generally she is at the top of the food chain in high school, and to be there, one has to be attractive.
- She is often a cheerleader.  Again, this comes with being at the top of the food chain.  (If she's not a cheerleader, which is shocking, she's usually team captain of something)  So I can excuse that this is often used, although I would like to point out that there were plenty of popular girls at my school who were not cheerleaders.  But then on the flip side, to my knowledge we didn't really have mean girls, so there's that too.

What I don't get is why the leader of the mean girls is almost always blonde.  And always white.  I mean statistically speaking, blondes are not leading the genetic polls here, it's a recessive gene.  And why aren't there other ethnicities?  It's not like blonde cheerleaders are the only mean girls in the world!  And it's not like there aren't popular kids of all ethnicities in schools (or at least there were plenty in mine!).   So why aren't they represented more in books? I can understand people feeling wary of being called racist for having a minority represented as the villain of your book.  But honestly guys?  Why can't we just have all different sorts of races as all different sorts of characters?  Protagonists, best friends, villains, anti-heroes, rogues - we don't need to make a big deal out of it.  You know what I LOVED about The Hunger Games?  It was racially diverse - and understated about it.  Simply a couple sentences written here and there so it was clear that people were different races, and that was it.  I mean honestly when you are out running errands, do you honestly think OMG!! There's a Latino!  WOW THAT'S CRAZY.  I mean, I don't.  In fact I'm not sure I consciously think anything other than "oh there's a person there, I should try not to run into them.  Or that street sign I ran into yesterday."

Ok I know this is not a street sign, but it's freaking adorable and hilarious

I'm torn because on the one hand, I'm always so excited when books turn gender roles upside down or if there is diversity at all...but I wish I could read things without having to make such a big deal about them because it is normal.  In my life, it's only a big deal running into diversity in YA books (although racism and sexism in the classical  music world is a discussion for another day).  In any case this has turned into a tangent I didn't mean to go down, because as a white girl while I can sympathize with diversity issues, it's not really anything I can truly understand.  Mostly I'm just pissed off because as a blue-eyed, blonde girl if I were cast in a YA novel I'd have like a 90% chance of being the mean girl.  And also all my junior high school classmates called me a Nazi. 

Moral of the story:  Please make more books with less stereotyping so if I become a famous actress one day I won't have to be a mean girl!  (Or a dumb blonde, or the geeky smart girl when I wear glasses.  Why are all these stereotypes still in existence?  They've been proven false over and over again!)


  1. I see your point, although I do think there are plenty of blond protagonists out there too. You don't have to be the mean girl! :-)

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

  2. There's hope for me yet! Not that I'd want to be an actress in the first place, but still.


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