If you've been on Twitter these past couple of days, you've probably noticed the #WeNeedDiverseBooks hashtag. If not, you should definitely make it a point to look through the tag. There are a lot of fantastic posts to go through.
I'm kind of in love with this tag at the moment because it's true.
We do need more diversity in our books.
Every person should be able to read a book and be able to see themselves within the story.
The problem in a lot of books is that nearly every heroine is presented as a stick thin, beyond beautiful girl with blue eyes and blonde/brown hair. Nearly every heroine is presented as "perfect". And it's usually always a male/female relationship. Which would be okay...if it wasn't the case with nearly every YA book out there.
These kinds of books are only representing a small portion of the world. And that isn't okay.
For me, when I was growing up. I actually hated reading. (I know, I know.) But that was because I couldn't connect with the characters. I'm short with olive skin, dark brown eyes, dark (nearly black) hair, and I was always struggling with my weight due to an eating disorder in my early teens. At this point, I also suffered from severe depression. (A lot of bad things happened when I was younger that forced me to grow up faster than I would've liked.) Most books I came across in my teens failed to connect with me. I think the only one that I managed to connect with back then was Go Ask Alice. Other than that? Nothing.
We live in a world where we find fault in magazines for highlighting stick thin models, but we fail to highlight the problem with diversity in fiction - especially YA and NA. That needs to change.
We need books that feature kick-ass heroines of every ethnicity.
We need books that aren't afraid to feature wonderful characters with disabilities (these books would also need to show that a disability doesn't make someone any less of a person).
We need books that deal with depression and the real life issues that teens face.
We need books that feature LBGT characters, because not everyone is straight.
We need books that feature characters of every body size/shape, because everyone is different.
We need books that showcase all sorts of diversity without making diversity the plot point.
I know, for me, I have every intention of making it a point to be more diverse in all of my upcoming books (I've already made it a point to right this wrong starting with Collide). I don't want a reader to feel as though they can't connect with my characters. I plan on adding characters of various ethnicities, LGBT characters, characters with disabilities, etc. Because I want my characters to represent everyone - not just one race, just one body image, just one sexual orientation.
All I ask is that, if you're a writer, you make an attempt to do the same.
And if you're a reader? Do whatever you can to demand more diversity.