Covering Stereotypes

First, I’d like to say that WordPress has been working horribly. I got 50 emails of SPAM comments that weren’t filtered yesterday, and now, I just spent an HOUR writing a post. When I hit the “Post” button my post was blank. Wonderful.  Now I have to start from scratch again. Yesterday I happened to come across a post by the Misfortune of Knowing, What Do We Want? Better Titles and Covers! When Do We Want It? NOW!. This article discussed the lengthy titles that no one will ever remember, but most importantly, the stereotypical covers that are often seen in Young Adult novels. The ones of twig-like girls, in big poofy dresses that practically devour them; not only this, these covers have no validity in the scope of the novels internal workings. AMB discussed one particular cover where the girl showcased that is sickeningly thin, has arms the circumference of a broomstick, snow white pale skin, and brown hair with blonde highlights. The novel’s main character is girl whom is described as having dark, almost black, ruddy hair and brown skin. The book’s main character is the exact opposite of the cover. Another thing to note, to those who have candidly told me that I need to eat a sandwich, is that this girl needs a big-mac with a super sized side of fries, smothered in a frosty. Why is this done when we spend so much time talking about the proliferation of eating disorders in today’s youth? It is because it’s popular and selling right now? I believe so. Publishers don’t go for what’s new and break-out, or what’s right. They grab for what’s worked in the past without any credence to the value of the cover of the book. This relates directly to my previous article, Cover Catastrophe. AMB’s thoughtful insights began my mind running over a similar stereotype that I’ve seen in the New Adult publishing world, but this time with the opposite sex.  Edward Cullen could not have put it any better when he said , “Does he own a shirt?”. The theme of a shirtless young man, typically embracing a clothed female has run rampant in the New Adult publishing world. Thank goodness the young man is somewhat more realistic than that of the stick-figured girls in the Young Adult covers. The reason I say somewhat is because the young man usually displays some musculature, but only due to his innate scrawniness. They don’t really display real men–they usually aren’t that thin, nor are they completely hairless except for a bit of scruff on the face–at least this is my observation. I don’t like that ‘I have muscles because my body fat is only 5%’ look. I don’t want my man to weigh the same or less than me. I want to know that he can pick me up and wrap me in his arms without  breaking. The thing that really struck out to me was the similarities to these New Adult covers and the covers of the trashy-romances New Adult is touting it is not. Those harlequin novels only have ONE difference, the men are roided to an inch of their lives. As a New Adult author I have been astonished and aggravated by the media spin that New Adult is simply smutty Young Adult. Unfortunately, I must admit that now I am starting to understand the misunderstanding that created this situation. We are putting New Adult covers on the market that look exactly to the tune of what we are saying we aren’t. Sure, the men are more boys than men, but they are still shirtless and posed in sexy positions of power over their women. My point is, we cannot begin to annihilate the stereotype that the media has driven that New Adult is Young Adult gone trashy without admitting that we are somewhat at fault for the situation. I’m not a feminist, but woman (myself included) often wonder why that other woman doesn’t leave more to the imagination–these covers are just the same, except with men. Reading is about using our imaginations, is it not? It’s about being engrossed in another world, in other characters and falling in love with them. We can use those imaginations to not only infer those steam scenes without the gaudy details, but to imagine covers that are better than what we have done.  In my opinion the cover should be an important scene in the novel, or showcase the main character in a light that will help the reader–if New Adult isn’t smut then why are 95% of the covers sexual scenes? I implore my fellow New Adult authors to think about this. The only way to change the impression that the media has is to SHOW that we aren’t what they say we are. The thing that SHOWS the most on the book is the cover. Let’s leave a little to the imagination and show that sex isn’t the most important part of New Adult. Actions speak louder than words–covers speak louder than our crossed arms saying it’s not Young Adult Smut.

smut tastic


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