As an indie author, I have to do a lot of things by myself, and finding a good cover is one of our worst nightmares – unless you’re skilled at graphic design. For those of us who aren’t, we have some solutions: pre-made covers which can be affordable, or attempting photomontage.
As I write about strong female characters, I have been dealing with even more hard choices each time I have to create a cover for my novels. First, I was browsing through a lot of pre-made covers in many genres: fantasy, thriller, drama, chick-lit, etc. There are some very beautiful works, some are as worthy as covers created by huge publishing houses.
However, it’s clear they’re all in need of a feminist helping hand.
The women represented on them are all overly feminine, wearing gowns and high heels. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with that, but not all women are like this, and these different women should be represented too.
Moreover, all the models look fragile, strike unnatural poses like holding their bare shoulder while looking away. They all seem to be in waiting, probably for Prince Charming or a bad boy who will harass them.
And this is when they’re not naked, offering themselves to the male gaze – or simply dead bodies.
It’s striking how male characters are not illustrated the same way, just as in the movies, on TV, or in any media that we know. Have you ever seen a cover or a film poster showing a man holding his shoulder with a sad patient look, longing for the girl of his dreams? We’re still waiting.
The thing is, for my first novel, I was looking for female warriors with realistic and practical outfits, but I only found two women, hypersexualized, wearing the same stuff we can see on The Hawkeye Initiative.
Then, I was looking for a determined Mexican woman who’s also a police officer, but could only find two Latina characters (yes, because there is also a lack of ethnic diversity): one who was sexy and passive, lying on a bed, and another one who was crying.
For another novel, I was looking for a confident plus size girl, but as the models on the pictures are all tall and thin, and mainly white, nothing matched. Or the few bigger women that could be found looked passive and/or hypersexualized too, which wasn’t the subject of my story at all.
Representation matters, and we need more diverse pictures and illustrations. We need women who aren’t scared, women with confident stares, women who can actually wear clothes and look powerful thanks to independent and self-assured positions. And also different body types.
We need different male models too, because as you scroll the pages, all you can see are bodybuilders, flexing muscles, and it shouldn’t be a standard either. There should be no standard.
S.N. Lemoing is the author of Powerful – Tome 1: The Realm of Harcilor. She was born in 1987 near Paris, France.
She graduated in Cinematography and English, studied philosophy, literature and lately, at University, she had the chance to follow classes about the Image of Women in the Media as well as the Female Gaze: Women directors. She then worked as a PA for films and TV, and also wrote, directed and produced episodes for 3 webseries and short films.
You can read more about Lemoing, and her book, here.