I love romance. It’s a declaration that took me years to make to myself and others. I’m not alone in my embarrassment, I know this much. But as a twelve-year-old girl only excited by the love-centered The Babysitter’s Club editions, I sure felt like a boy-crazed preteen that probably turn into a man-crazed woman who would be obsessed with finding and keeping love. At least, that’s how all the adults in my life made it seem. Especially my mother. I remember having a conversation across the dinner table that felt more like a standoff when she realized I was into The Clique – and their impressively active romance lives.
“So, you like books where girls are boy crazy?” She challenged.
Well, I liked books where people fall in love and out of love and around love and basically love. Because they were never just about girls fawning over guys to me. Of course, I didn’t say any of that. None of that matter to her. So I simply replied, “Yes, I do.” She banned me from reading romance heavy ones whenever she could. I still managed to sneak a few passed her. My fine-tuned stealth scored me a copy of Twilight one day and I consumed every word it all in one night.
Now, I’m sure that doesn’t sound like an act of rebellion but for me, it was as close to it I could get at any point in my life. I was a shy, socially anxious teenage with acne that wouldn’t let up and jeans that wouldn’t reach my ankles. I didn’t enjoy much but when I sat down to read a Judy Blume novel that included a love interest you could be sure I was going to have a good time escaping.
I’m now a twenty-two-year-old woman who won’t shy away from admitting she likes romance and spending all her extra time reading them. But I will shy away from being caught reading a certain type of romance. There are two main types of romance in the book industry: the ones with highly sexualized covers and the ones with subtle hints at a love story. I’m a sucker for both, but the suggestive covers are more difficult to explain than the tame ones. The difference often has me too embarrassed to display on my bookshelf, tuck into my purse on a road trip, or even leave on my carousel on my Kindle. This half-ownership of my love for romance has got me curious as to why this embarrassment continues to hold me back? Why do people see women who read romance and think they are desperate because they’re hoping for love? Especially since love is something girls have been feed to believe since they were children watching Disney Princesses. Is there a conspiracy where society desires to encourage girls to want romantic, sweep-off-her-feet love and then, shame them when that’s what they go for when they grow up? Is the shameful voice in my head partly my mother’s, reminding me that my own sexual expression is not okay? Or am I just reading into this like I do with everything else life? Hmm, we’ll see. That’s what I’m going to explore on the blog. My obsession with romance: the good, bad, and extremely bad that it’s almost good. My shyness when it comes to my own curiosity about sex and romantic relationships. And a whole ton of delving into romance in pop culture. Because I love me a good shipping debate.