Aug 8 2017 7:01am

What Are Your Least Favorite Ways to See a Heroine Described?

Sassy woman in the pool

We've talked about our nope tropes and our squick words. We've talked about the types of heroines we love... but what about when a heroine we'd otherwise love is described in a way that we hate. For example, a reader once said she hated when a heroine was described as “sassy.”

What word do you not love to see used for a heroine? Why do you not like it?

Tell us about it in the comments!

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Carmen Pinzon
1. bungluna
I loathe the word sassy. It's become such a phobia that I've actually put down books where the heroine is relentlessly described as sassy. Ugh!
Jennifer Proffitt
2. JenniferProffitt
I'm not a huge fan of the word sassy either, though it's not the WORST word I've heard used. ... Well.... honestly I'm not sure. It IS pretty bad. I think it has to do with my own hangups on the word because in college any time I would show backbone and standup to people in my friend group, they would call me sassy, so I feel like it's either code for "I'm no longer your door mat" or "I'm going to be annoying and overly snarky and difficult but I'm sassy so it's fine."

I also don't like when a heroine is described as "luscious"
3. Jannah
I agree "sassy" is pretty bad without a doubt but I'll add "spunky" to the list. Who even uses that word nowadays? It's so BEYOND cringeworthy. Second word has to be "bombshell". I just feel like by using this word, the author makes the heroine lack any substance beyond the physical and we're supposed to focus on how hot she is.
Wendy the Super Librarian
4. SuperWendy
"Feisty." And it's not really the word itself, just that it has a long, unfortunate history of abuse in the genre dating back to the Bodice Ripper Era. I see "feisty" used to describe a heroine and I immediately jump to the conclusion that she's Too-Stupid-To-Live.
5. wsl0612
Virginal. Don't get me wrong, I'm not objecting to a virgin heroine, but the word virginal has been applied too often to those big-eyed "waify" types that have never picked up a book or seen a movie and OMG he's putting his tongue in my mouth! Ugh, go back to your Disney Princess cartoon cave!
6. IGotYou
I don't have any problem with the word 'sassy.' Maybe because I used to like the magazine with that name. What I hate is when a heroine is introduced and the first thing she does is hit the hero, with very little cause. He's usually just arrived on the scene, somewhat bewildered, and he might say something goofy or, I'm just gonna use the word, sassy. And she immediately piledrives him without gathering any more data to arrive at that decision. I don't find that kind reactionary behavior appealing in a friend, much less a heroine whose story I want to follow. There's being a strong female character, and there's being an asshole female character. The line doesn't have to be that fine.
7. SpiritedMuse
I concur on the sassy and fiesty front. As if a woman or female of any kind can't stand up for themselves without suddenly being considered a "problem" or going to cause a scene. I mean it be a different story if these words were applied to mean every time they caught a case of feelings/emotions about something.

My least fave words would have to be driven or "tough". Which in theory nothing typically wrong with these words. But sometimes based off these words the author has set the tone of what the heroine is going to be like for the rest of the book. Or how the reader is going to preceive her. And oh man, when I've done buddy or group reads with heroines like that. It is hard to always defend a character like that. Especially when the rest of the group has shut their minds to her, thinking she is a self absorbed b*tch.

Even if she has a plausible back story. And I've actually noticed a shift from admiring the female character that didn't have the necessarily perfect life. To that of someone that is a little more damsel in distress like. And that annoys me. Like really? What century are we living in where we are rooting for the fake peeps that haven't really been through something vs. someone that had to learn about life in the streets?
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