So for the past few weeks I've been gorging myself, literally, on African-American romance. I do have a question though--why are the majority of the women in these books possessing high cheekbones and long hair that flows around the shoulders. I've seen plenty of black women in my day, and the majority of them do not have high cheekbones or hair that flows around their shoulders. What's wrong with having "regular" cheekbones and hair that stops at the nape (or shorter, natural). Because admittedly, I'm seeing "weave" with that earlier (Eurocentric) expression, and I don't think that was the intention of these authors.
And why are they all skinny (small waists, full breasts, slender hips)? All of them? I've only read one who wasn't like that--Chamein Canton's Not His Type, but she was also light-skinned and had good hair, too. Not that that's a problem, but where are thick girls who are more dark than light, who have typical African features and hair? It's not that I have a problem reading about all the shades of black women, but when I, essentially, read about the same woman appearance-wise I get a little wary. In fact, I think my slimmest woman that I've written is probably Coralee. Maybe Margot, but she's preggers, so she doesn't count. Jada isn't fat, but she'd never be called slim. Tyler is plus-size, and so is Rosalyn, if a little smaller than Tyler; and Samara is also plus-size. I think the lightest one is Samara as well. Jada has the most Eurocentric hair in terms of texture (although it is curly), then Rosalyn, and then Tyler. Coralee's hair would be nappy if not for the hot comb, and Margot and Samara have nappy, "natural" hair (although I try to make sure all of my female characters have natural hair, but I'm not above introducing a weave or two :-P). I guess my standards of black beauty were pretty diverse and pretty strong, but I know how it is to see black women who look closer to the Eurocentric ideal of beauty than not, and I try to be very conscious of it when I write. Since I primarily write IR, I don't want these black women to have prominent Eurocentric features to be seen as a "reason" why the (usually) white man would be interested in the first place. It bothers me so much when I read that, especially when white authors start writing black women (I haven't read a black heroine from a white author who has two black parents or isn't so light and bright regardless of parentage that I have to flip back at the initial description of where the author says the heroine identifies as black. If anyone has, please point me to it.). There's nothing wrong with a woman being (unambiguously) black and beautiful and attractive to both black and nonblack men. She doesn't need hair all the way down her back or a slender figure or honey/caramel skin (and I have honey/caramel skin). Dark, "natural"-haired, more-African-featured-than-not, curvy/heavy sisters need some love, too, after all. We're sure not going to get it from Hollywood!
ETA: I didn't mention Addy, mainly because I'm not finished with her story, but since her look, I don't believe, shall be changing any time soon, I'll say this--I think she's the tallest of all my heroines; definitely heavyset, but it's better balanced because of her height; has relaxed hair to her shoulders; medium-brown skin (more dark than light, but not dark dark). And Eric loves her to pieces. Boy Eric . . .
ETA2: There is also Working Man by Melanie Schuster that also features a plus-size heroine, and I think she's darker than Canton's heroine, too.