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Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Trope-tastic Tuesdays: Raven Hair, Ivory Skin

Trope: Raven Hair, Ivory Skin

Description: Though beauty ideals tend to go in cycles when it comes to what's popular at any given moment, Raven Hair, Ivory Skin is one of those tropes that's often used as a shortcut for "this character is physically attractive". Due to said cycles, these characters can take on all forms, from gothic heroines to 1950s pin-up girls to vampires from all different time periods. However, to qualify for this trope, they have to be good-looking. There can be some overlap with the Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette trope, but that one has more to do with how a character is perceived beyond physical beauty. Both have a tendency to skew female, but attractive raven-haired men with ivory skin are out there in all sorts of media.

Examples: Snow White in every form she's ever taken, Scarlett O'Hara, Miranda from Mass Effect, Yennefer from The Witcher

Pros: The visual contrast makes this appealing, even when you're writing and you want the reader to get a certain image in their minds. As stated above, it can also be a quick way to get to "this character is pretty!" without spending a huge amount of time on descriptions and perceptions right away. When it comes to the overlap with other tropes and genres, you can either lean in to the established tropes, or have some fun playing around with them and subverting expectations.

Cons: There's a fine line between "relying on tropes" and "laziness." (Let's not talk about how many times I've walked that line.) Also, as with all physical appearance tropes, beauty is highly subjective.

Would/Did I Use It?: Indeed I have! Tabitha from Hunting Astrid qualifies, as her appearance captures Astrid's attention right away. Alizeira from Flight of the Dragon Queen also fits this trope, and she might also count as an Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette, at least at the beginning of the book before we learn more about her. I gave some serious consideration to whether Jasmine from Out of Orbit and Sari from Fire Beyond the Frost qualify, and ultimately decided that they don't—aside from debating whether or not their brown hair is dark enough, while their love interests are attracted to them, it's never mentioned if they're considered objectively beautiful to most of the people around them.

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