Sunday, August 05, 2007

Boycotting Avon Romance?

It may seem like an extreme response, but last weekend 6 of my close friends (who also happen to be avid readers, a few also writers) announced that they had sent letters to Avon, the romance publisher, informing them they'd decided to boycott all Avon romances in response to the horrible cover art depicting anorexic females. I've complained about this in the past, as well. Most recently a book specifically addressing body image, size acceptance, and celebrating a plump female protagonist was marketed with a disturbingly thin woman on the cover. This isn't just bad marketing... it's insulting.

And it IS a trend for Avon. But I must admit, my friends (who indicated that several others were joining them) have more dedication than I. A few of my absolute favorite authors write for Avon. Eloisa James, Suzanne Enoch, Julia Quinn... I don't know if I could survive without them in my library!

But I must admit... this thing has been bothering me for a long time. We're not talking about slender women who don't match the description of the lady inside the cover. That's annoying, and it happens a lot, but it's not so much offensive as stupid. Consistently slapping freakishly thin models done in emaciated pastels, with arms so twiggy they appear skeletal, is irresponsible, offensive, and unhealthy. Worse, it perpetuates a negative impression many have of romance readers and romance itself: that we are vapid, stupid women who live in a fantasy land.

Will I be putting Avon books back on the shelf? I wish I could be gutsy enough to say "yes." It will certainly require some careful thought and soul searching.

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