It’s almost the norm these days for leads to be dashing and handsome or elegant and beautiful. It makes sense on a few fronts. Beautiful characters are often the kinds of people who are idealised, looked up to as paragons of humanity (or whichever group the give allegiance to). However, beauty in characters can have its faults.
First is the point I made above. Unfortunately for us common folk, conventional beauty does not come easy and because of this beautiful people stand out. As in, they’re different. It can be difficult for an audience to sympathise or empathise with someone who is different from them in such a drastic way as attractiveness. This means that conventionally attractive people are set up idols in stories where that might not fit.
The fact that beauty makes an idol can be, and has, been seen as incredibly shallow. Such characters may be given the stamp of perfection but may be awful people. It’s also an easy way out for a novice author (yes, I’ve done this) to give an additional character trait. Unless explored upon (which I’ve seen quite interestingly played with), attractiveness is no more of a character trait that being plain is. (You may make opposing arguments if you wish 🙂 )
I read an article recently in which the author asked for more ‘homely or just plain’ female characters in fiction. This, and the ensuing lines, gave the impression of a need for demographic spreading. Bombshells and the like cater to a specific demographic: men, generally under forty-five. The article argued that if people stopped staring at these characters, then their actions would be in greater focus and they’d be better characters. I give no opinion on the implications of what I just rephrased but I agree with the fact greater female role models and round characters need to inhabit traditionally ‘boy’s fiction’. I’m trying to rectify that right now. Wyvern Diary‘s current squad has a gender ratio of 4 male:3 female and one of the guys is going to *spoiler* die *spoiler*.
In short, attractiveness can be done poorly or done well and it can have important implications.