For Real Friday: Super Special People

No, I could think of some who had it worse. Normal humans who knew about the gods. How many books had I read, or movies had I watched, where some normal teenager discovered they were special or had some ability that set them apart? Mortals craved that distinction, that power. They dreamed and wished and wondered. How much would it suck to realize all those things you’d dreamed of and hoped for were real, just not for you?


Growing up in the nineties, I was bombarded with super special people. Mutants, superheroes, vampires, and pretty much any other unique species. Most of the time the agent into the story was someone who thought they were normal, right up until they figured out that they were secretly a super special person.

There’s nothing wrong with that plot line. The idea that somewhere within you lies this untapped potential to be something better, something more, it’s not a bad thing. Personally, I can remember the day when I realized I was a lot happier with my life as it was then I would be if I found out I was really a super hero, or a lost princess, or some random alien species. But I never stopped wanting something that each and every one of those characters had.

The super special coloring or marking they had.

There’s always something. An unusual (yet conventionally attractive) birthmark. Unusual (and once again conventionally attractive) hair or eye colors. Glowing symbols that appear on your forehead when you shout out magic words. YA protagonists could never just be average looking. OR worse, when they were “average looking” they were always described as too thin and had three or more guys chasing after them at any given time (I’m looking at you Vicky Austin). And I kept the trope going. My gods and demigods are very attractive people. They’re gods. Unrealistic, unobtainable beauty just kind of made sense. But it’s not something I plan to keep up with outside of this series because I remember hating the way I looked because I had nothing that set me a part, nothing special. It wasn’t until I had a kid and actually got upset when her eyes changed from blue to brown (at 18 months, that six month thing is a lie) that I realized how deep my bias against the way I looked went.

The thing with super special markings or coloring is, as cool as it was, in a way it was just as damaging to me as the unobtainable models and movie stars I’m surrounded by every day. It made being normal, not having some super special (but don’t forget conventionally attractive) thing that set me apart seem like it wasn’t normal. I couldn’t see myself in the books I was reading or the shows I watched, but I wanted to. Books like Twilight and the Hunger Games would have meant a lot to me as a kid. And I’m still luckier than most. Ever notice how often the super special hair color/eye color/symbol code the character as white? Even when they don’t. I got an email complaining that I’d white washed the demigods by turning them gold. And despite the fact that gold skin/hair/eye tones can exist across every ethnicity, I completely understand how the reader got that impression. We’re so used to it that we don’t see anything else.

It’s entirely possible I was just over sensitive as a kid reading those books. I didn’t beg my mom for plastic surgery so I could look like a super model, I begged for purple contacts so I could look magic. It is entirely possible I’m just weird. But on the off chance that it’s not just me, I’m going to try harder not to fall into that trope in books I write outside of the Daughters of Zeus series.

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