Vive la difference?

Everyone knows that opposites attract. Right? That’s like, the oldest rule of coupling up, or creating fictional couples that belong together. Every romance writer knows, the heroine invariably detests the hero right off the bat — usually for his aggravating confidence and disarming seduction skills — but as the story wears on, she discovers he’s actually a total catch, does a 180, and bam! Opposites come together in a burst of fireworks. (Personally, I blame Jane Austen for all this.)

Of course, in real life things don’t usually happen that way. If you can’t stand a guy when you meet him, chances are you’ll never like him that much. Probably you’re right, and he really IS a jerk. Moreover, when you are attracted to someone in the first place, it’s usually for an entirely different reason: because you have things in common.

I still remember a college Biology class teaching us that some animals actually are attracted to difference. The more different the better! Orange bird gets the hots for blue bird of same species, for example. Then the professor asked us, “And what about humans? Are we attracted to differences, or to similarities?” Of course, we all parroted ‘opposites attract!’ And then she showed us a bunch of engagement photos. Like these:

(All courtesy of Google image search; click to go to source site)
View More: http://angelicacriscuolophotography.pass.us/marlonleslywashington-dc-lesbian-engagement-session-lgbt-37

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First of all, I’d like to say that I wish all of these lovely couples the very best! Long life, happy marriage, and all the good things that go with both. Anyway, as you can see — and as I saw all those years ago in Biology class — most couples are together because, well, they look alike. Because they ARE alike. They have a lot in common. That’s why they’re getting married!

And before you say anything like ‘But what about multiracial couples?’ I will counter by saying that, at least to me, ‘looking alike’ has less to do with the shape of your face, your height, size or shape, or color of your skin, than it does with your expression, the way you carry yourself, and how your personality shows. Kind of like how people grow to look like their dogs, right? And vice versa? Same thing for couples. (My mother-in-law took a look at our wedding photos and proclaimed that my husband and I both had the same smile; they could cut and paste them on our mouths and you wouldn’t know the difference! Doesn’t say much for my shade of lipstick… too discreet, maybe.) So whatever combination you happen to have made, I would bet you and your honey, set side by side, would ‘look like a couple.’ Am I right? Right. Let’s move on.

The reason I’m blogging about this today is because I’m thinking about what it all means for romance writers. Opposites attract, yes, but similarities are what bring staying power to a relationship. Therefore, when developing your characters, keep in mind that they must have more in common than not, if they are to be believable. ¬†Maybe they are the same height,¬†either much taller or shorter than ‘average.’ Perhaps they have a similar interest that ties them together, and affects the way they dress or behave. In lots of couples, both partners wear glasses. Something as simple as that, and yet it can make all the difference.

So let those hot opposites sparkle, crash, and burn, and vive les similaires!

Claim Your Beauty

curveIn the interest of sexing up my website a little bit (and also, just for fun), I’ve added some little photos here and there. You’ll notice themes of lace and soft lighting, curves of skin and peekaboo poses… and of course the fact that they’re all me. So now it’s clear that I have an exhibitionist streak – no surprises there, I’m sure, given my choice of writing genre! – as well as extremely pale skin, thanks to genetics and the cloudy, rainy, magnificent Pacific Northwest. Naturally I am only sharing photos that don’t include my face, just in case we work together. (I don’t think we do, but you never know! Ditto on the tattoos. I’ve cropped all my tattoos… though if you know where those are, chances are also good we don’t work together, though we may be enjoying a relaxing beach vacation together!)brashot

Now, a little history: these photos come from a wonderful afternoon my husband and I spent in Portland with a professional boudoir photographer. For us it was fun, but also a celebration of our bodies – as they really are at this particular moment in our lives. I haven’t been shy about my body for years; most of the time I am perfectly happy to dance around naked (weather permitting). Made for some fun times in college, and lots of skinny dipping. However, as confident as I feel about my body, and as comfortable as I am with it, I realize that many people – especially women – are not.

frontSociety has a way of telling women, subliminally or overtly, that they are insufficiently beautiful. Surely everyone has had the experience of staring in the mirror and feeling dissatisfied with their looks. This happened to me all the time, especially when I was younger. My breasts were too small, then too big, then not perky enough. My waist didn’t have enough dip; my hips were too narrow; I wished my butt was bigger, or my legs curvier. I used to sigh and wish my lips were fuller, or my eyes wider, or my nose shorter, or whatever. It doesn’t really matter, because at the heart of it is the feeling of inadequacy, of not being pretty according to the standards we set for ourselves – or, I should say, that society sets for us.

Gradually I grew out of this. In all fairness, I am lucky to have a body type that is generally admired in this country, in this decade, in this part of the world (nobody would have looked twice at me in the Italian Renaissance, though!). But that’s not why I got over it. It comes from looking at yourself clearly, seeing your body as a unique work of art, and claiming it. Claim your beauty. Nobody else can do this for you; you have to decide you are beautiful. And once you do, you will be.hello hands

Boudoir photography is just one way to claim your beauty, and have it validated through art. Erotica is another way: I am attentive to this, and write characters – male and female – of various body types, celebrating the deep capacity for beauty, sensuality, pleasure, and love that lies in everyone. True beauty has no body type. It has no skin color. It has no weight, no shoe size, no 34-25-36 measurements, no haircut. It is ageless. Beauty is always there, just waiting to be claimed. You are beautiful already.

So take it, claim it – it’s yours.