Jan 25, 2013

Friday Fronts: (Dead) Girls In Dresses & why I hate them

I really like dresses. I really like pretty people. Who doesn't?

But I'm really annoyed at this trend of taking any YA book with a female protagonist, decking her in the prettiest dress that can be found, and having her lay on the ground or thrown into water or tossed into the air.

It's not that these covers aren't pretty. They are. And they sell, or there wouldn't be so many of them.

But why can't we have pretty girls, maybe even in dresses, actually... you know... moving?

A lot of the covers have girls still. The world affects them rather than them affecting the world, and in a lot of these books, that's not how it works. It gives the world the power in the images rather than giving the girls the power.

And while the covers are pretty, I don't think changing how we portray them in the pictures - letting them stand on their own instead of lying down; letting them look fierce instead of dainty; letting them wield a sword rather than being thrown into the air - I don't think it will change how often the books sell. They can be gorgeous and still be active.

And let's face it - I'm more likely to pick up a book if there's weaponry on the cover.

What do you guys think?


  1. I'm with you on that one. I also don't have anything against a pretty dress, but often in the book the main character doesn't even wear a ball dress. What is the point of tossing her on green grass with a beautiful long pink dress if the girl is a bad-ass chick that fights with swords and in 98% of the story she wears jeans?
    Those kind of covers make me think that the book might be more of a romance novel and I am not that big of a fan of those.

  2. To be honest, I don't find these covers attractive at all and I love pretty covers (and aesthetically pleasing things in general)! I never thought about it deeply before, but I've always been turned off by covers like this. I guess I was just innately repelled by how helpless and lifeless the girls look in these covers. It really makes everything look flat right from the start, and I've never bothered to look further into them. =/

  3. Yes, why do you put girls in ball gowns on covers when it has nothing to do with the plot?

    Some of these bother me a lot more than others, but it is a disturbing trend.

    1. Ditto and ditto.

      (Some actually make sense AND are lovely, and we're cool with that. But most just do it for the sake of... well, we're not even sure what.)

  4. Agreed, I completely balked when they changed the cover of Kim Harrington's The Dead and Buried to a dead girl in dress. I'm all for more weaponry on covers.

  5. At first I liked some of the covers. But I have to agree with you. The trend is starting to feel gratuitous. As some have mentioned, the prom gown has nothing to do with the plot or the way the character dresses at all. The only time it seemed appropriate is the cover for The Selection by Kiera Cass or an story about an actual prom. And I love the point you made about how static the girl seems--just lying down instead of active. Makes the character seem passive.

  6. This trend doesn't bother me too much, except when it doesn't actually match the plot.

    If it's a high fantasy or historical or an important part of the story is something that has a girl in a dress (e.g. prom, wedding, that sort of thing), then that's fine...but if it's just a girl in a pretty dress for the sake of it, then it's annoying.

    The weapons thing: while I do love that, again, I'd only like it if it fits with the story.

    The whole "active" thing - I both agree and disagree. It depends on the book, sometimes the passive thing suits the plot/character more.

    Basically, I'm fine with these sorts of covers so long as they actually make sense when paired with the book they're the cover for (for example, of the ones you show here that I've read: Fracture actually really fits the story--and she's not in a dress--while The Name of the Star doesn't...at least not the girl in the dress part).

  7. You are more likely to see a woman with a weapon in an adult book. Check out Jill Kismet books by Lilith Saintcrow.

  8. This trend ticks me off as well. No matter how pretty it is, I don't want to pick up a book that looks as though it has a passive female protagonist. (Mind you I said female because you'd *never* see a guy looking so weak on a cover.) I'm not sure if the cover for Mara Dyer fits, though, as the model doesn't really look weak/in distress and it fits the tone of the book.

  9. The only "dead girl in pretty dress" cover I approve of is Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake. Because the main girl is dead. And a dress is the only thing she wears.

    I'm weird, I know. I totally agree with this post though! I like a bit more excitement with covers! Pretty girls laying limp don't tell me ANYTHING about the story.

  10. I'm much more attracted to illustrated or abstract covers, but I can understand why publishers are still riding this trend. They attract the target audience who aren't as crazy into reading as some of us.


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