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Monday, August 15, 2011

How Do We Feel About "Make-Over" Romance Novels?



I read a few books over vacation, and one of them was Too Perfect by Julie Ortolon. A formerly chubby slightly agoraphobic woman gets "stranded" on a tropical island and becomes a housekeeper for a reclusive man who refuses to be seen. Just to win a bet with her friends. Sure, that sounds....totally plausible. Anyhoo, the "recluse" is actually a big, jaded Hollywood star who is gorgeous and sexy. Since we can't have a frumpy, chubby girl get the hottie guy, said girl undergoes a transformation....transformation.....transformation....(imagine "Slim" from A Bug's Life is saying this part, which should be easy if you have kids and watched that movie 10 million times).

Needless to say, Chubby Girl gets a make-over by Hollywood Dude aka French Dude With A Fake Goatee aka The Recluse. Gone are the big, baggy clothes, replaced with bright colorful shirts with parrot motifs, chunky jewelry, and hair loosely piled on her head instead of pulled back in a tight bun. Because nothing says New And Improved Sexy Girl like a parrot motif.

(Yeah, I'm being sort of sarcastic here but as soon as I read "parrot motif" I got thrown out of the story.)

So, as I'm reading this, I'm thinking.....(A) Make-over books are sort of irritating, and (B) If I was getting a make-over and someone made me wear a shirt with effin parrots on it, I would be seriously pissed off, and (C) Why can't the chubby girl get the hottie guy?

There is something inherently romantic about a mousy little thing transformed into Cinderella for a night. But there is also something distressing about it, too. Can't a mousy little thing be beautiful, appealing, sexy, loved? Do we really need clunky jewelry or mascara for men to find us attractive? Who the hell finds parrots sexy? (Maybe a zookeeper or something?) The point is, I think the "make-over" theme in romance novels is pretty juvenile....it seems like the kind of thing a teenager would like. Teens, who spend millions of dollars on hair products and make-up and accessories and shoes with sparkles on them. I am hoping that adults have realized there are more important things than soft, wispy tendrils of hair falling seductively around one's face. And I would surely, surely hope that a hero would realize it, too. Even if the heroine is slightly chubby, or wears drab clothes, hopefully he could see past that and find her kind, generous, funny, sweet and lovely personality a big win. Because otherwise, he's looking pretty shallow.

The hero in this book is actually pretty cool. He does recognize that the heroine is genuine and wonderful, even without the bird-inspired apparel. As far as contemporary romance novels go, this is a cute book, although the make-over details were definitely overdone. (Grade: B+)

How do you feel about "make-over" books? Love them? Hate them? Do they make you feel inadequate about your own style, which may be sadly lacking in parrot shirts?

Happy Monday To All!
Penny

10 comments:

Sullivan McPig said...

I haven't read any make-over books, except one that had the clear message that make-overs aren't what makes a person beautiful, it's his/her personality that's most important.

I have seen tons of make-over movies though and they irritate me to no end. Especially as the girl always wears glasses in her 'ugly' state. Then the make-over happens, the glasses are replaced by contacts and presto: instant beauty! *vomits in disgust*

(Even more irritating are those books/movies where the cool goth chick turns into a pastel coloured ninny in the end)

Amber Skyze said...

I'd have to say this would irritate me. Chubby women should be able to get the sexy hero. They deserve love too. Why do they have to lose weight? What if they just can't?
A "make-over" type book would not be for me. :)

Penelope said...

Hi Sullivan McPig! Wouldn't it be totally great if the movie make-over had a pastel ninny turning into a goth girl...hee hee! That would rock! Also, the glasses thing pisses me off, too.

Penelope said...

Hi Amber! The heroine in this book lost weight, but still felt like she was fat. She was pretty insecure. The hero made her feel beautiful, which is wonderful, but I still felt like too much was being made about her physical appearance.

heidenkind said...

I read that book! I enjoyed it, but thought it was way too cutesy to really connect with.

Anyway, I usually really resent make-over books and movies. My main problem with them is that if the guy couldn't be bothered to care about your existence when you weren't spending an hour on getting dressed and putting on make-up, is he really going to stick it out with you? Answer: NO.

Penelope said...

Heidenkind.....Remember Grease? Her make-over from sweet girl with a pony tail to sluttinski in black leather? What a great idea! Turn into a major bimbo to attract a guy! Um...maybe not.

Julia Rachel Barrett said...

I avoid them like the plague. I guess the only kind of story that might appeal to me is the tomboy trying to become more womanly. But not with a parrot motif, chunky jewelry and an up-do. There is nothing less sexy than Hawaiian print-type shirts on either sex.

Besides, why can't the chubby woman be confident in herself? Or maybe if the author wants to do a makeover, find a way to give a chubby woman who lacks confidence, confidence. But for god's sake, don't put a big loud print shirt on her!

But wait - I do love Grease! I like those sewn on black pants. Let's remember, in Grease both try to make themselves over. He letters in track for her.

What about Pretty Woman? I enjoy the movie but it always annoys me because Julia Robert's character (as constituted in the film) would not have been in that situation. Sorry. Just would not have happened. She's too smart, too nice and not damaged enough. Her roommate I got.

Penelope said...

Hi Julia! Just say no to parrots! I have a lot of problems with the movie Pretty Woman. Mainly, I thought it was weird "romanticizing" prostitution. But what do I know? You are right about Grease....he turns into a dork for her, she turns into a slut for him. But at the end of the movie, everyone is wearing black leather and Sandra Dee is smoking a butt and wiggling her ass. I love that musical, but still, not a great message.

Kari said...

Wouldn't a real hero love her no matter what? Isn't that what we hope for, that our own hero loves the very things we don't love so much about ourselves? That he thinks we look cute in glasses? Or that a few extra curves look just right? Or that what we think of as frizzy bad hair days he thinks of as sexy bed hair?
I do like a makeover though when it kind of backfires and the heroine realizes that the new person isn't really her.

Penelope said...

Hi Kari! I totally agree with you. Those are the heroes I love the best....the ones who love the imperfections of their heroines. That's true love, baby!