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Strong Female Characters

Trendsetter Blog Post

We asked our newest batch of Trendsetters to share blog posts about topics that matter to them in YA and in life—and it should surprise no one that we’ve got another Throne of Glass fangirl in our midst! Check out Alex’s post below. 

Hi, my name is Alex and I’m a sophomore. I ramble about over at @alexs_bookshelf on twitter, and I also run www.fieryreads.com, a website where you’ll find book reviews and long, bookish discussions. Today, I want to share another discussion with you, one I feel very passionately about.

People are always throwing around the term “strong female character,” but what exactly does that mean? It’s meant to be used to describe a woman who is complex, but all too often it is used to describe a woman who is physically strong, wields some sort of weapon expertly, and dresses vaguely masculine. While I love my warrior girls, I want to talk about a girl who loves her weapons just as much as she loves her dresses. She’s my favorite character ever, Celaena Sardothien from the Throne of Glass series.

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The new movie, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies looks amazing, and look! Girls with dresses being seriously fierce!

It’s not every day you come across a female character who is as multifaceted as Celaena. She could gut you like a fish, but she’d do it in a pretty, expensive dress. She’s an assassin, which would make you think that she’s very ruthless and cunning. This is true–but it’s also true that she spends her earnings from her job on expensive dresses. Talk about unexpected.

Surprised? I was at first, too. Here’s a character who I expected to be a heartless, cold killer, but instead ended up being a girl with a love for fancy outfits, chocolates and books, who happened to be an assassin. I believe that sends such an important message to girls, and it really resonated with me.

In YA fiction, the “warrior girl” and “girly girl” trope don’t overlap often, if at all. They typically fit into one of the two categories, especially in fantasy novels. But the best thing about Celaena’s character is that she completely defies this and fits both of these roles down to a T. The fact that she’s an assassin does not take away from the fact that she loves wearing dresses. When I read about this, I was delighted. I had never read a story about a character who was so unapologetically girly and ruthless.

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(These are some of the dresses on the back of the Throne of Glass books, and they’re absolutely gorgeous! Notice the weapons, too.)

Just like actors, singers or other famous figures, fictional characters can be role models. As someone who YA fiction is aimed at, I often find myself wishing that I could be more like the girls I read about. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wanted to be able to use a sword like a certain character–but none of those characters made me stop and think like Celaena Sardothien did. Her character made me realize that I don’t have to give up my femininity to be badass. I can slay my enemies and look cute in a pretty dress at the same time. Without reading Throne of Glass, I don’t know if I would’ve ever realized this. Celaena became my role model overnight as I devoured the novel. While I still love the girls who love their weapons and dark clothes, now I know I can be a girly girl and still make people cower before me (theoretically, of course. Girls who aren’t even 5 feet typically don’t instill fear in their enemies).

I am not just one stereotype. I am made up of tens, hundreds of stereotypes all rolled into one small, opinionated girl. I’m the warrior girl (I could definitely kill someone with my field hockey stick), and the girly girly (my closet is packed with dresses), and the smart girl (straight A, honor roll student), and the athlete (re: field hockey), and the bookworm (I’m always reading). I’m not just one of these things; I’m all of them, at the same time. Just because I’m playing field hockey doesn’t mean I’m not a bookworm, and just because Celaena Sardothien is an assassin doesn’t mean she’s not a girly girl.

Thank you, Celaena Sardothien, for showing me that I don’t have to fit into a box; I am myself, and I am far too big and vast to be held down by simple stereotypes and labels.

If you’re interested in becoming a Teen Trendsetter, email marketing@paperlanternlit.com

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