It bugs me when women don’t eat. I like to eat. Whether in real life or in books – I’m suspicious of girls who never seem to eat, or just nibble.
I remember reading something about Drew Barrymore, when she was co-producing Charlie’s Angels. There’s a scene in the movie where the Angels go through the drive-thru and order burgers and milkshakes, because she wanted it to be clear that these women do eat, when they’re not busy kicking Crispin Glover’s ass.
So when I started writing this book, I knew I wanted to write a heroine who enjoys food. And a hero who delights in her enjoyment of food. Because I think a lot of women read their first romance novels as teens, at that “trying age” when they are trying to figure out their developing bodies and sexuality. I try to think about a teenage girl reading my book for clues, and I want to build in affirming messages about body image and sexual awakening — without being heavy-handed, of course.
So, Lucy likes to eat. A lot. And she never once feels guilty or apologetic about it.
Lucy Waltham’s appetite was insatiable.
Henry liked to jest that when she married, he would provide her a dowry of two cows, six pigs, and two dozen chickens – just so her husband could keep her fed. It was only a joke, of course. In all likelihood, her dowry would be worth far less.
But no one would be jesting to say Lucy downed meals that would put a farm laborer to shame. Lucy lived hungry. She devoured every day. This appetite for life required a steady supply of actual food. She nicked hot rolls from the kitchen, rang for cold chicken at midnight, and spent long afternoons grazing in the orchards. And she never missed breakfast.
How about you? What messages, good or bad, do you think the romance genre gives young women? Have you assigned your characters certain traits in hopes of sending a message? Or do you find the very idea of such “messages” overly PC or didactic?