Contradictory Characters? Characteristics Don’t Have To Match

contradictory characteristics

Recently the Miss USA was crowned, and I was blown away by the woman, District of Columbia entrant Deshauna Barber.

 

  • She’s not only incredibly beautiful, but she has a master’s degree in management information systems and works as an IT analyst for the United States Department of Commerce.
  • She is a logistics commander for the 988th Quartermaster Detachment Unit of the United States Army. She joined the military when she was 17 and sees it as a family tradition.She wants to use her Miss USA reign to focus on PTSD treatment for soldiers returning from the war.
  • She was a sorority sister in a chapter that focuses on leadership and educating youth.
  • She cried when she won Miss USA.

This woman, this amazing, phenomenal badass, breaks stereotypes just by being herself. She’s ‘a mess of contradictions in a dress’, as Fiona from Shrek the Musical says.

Uncharacteristic

I don’t really like saying that a character’s actions are ‘uncharacteristic.’ Take for example Fluttershy from My Little Pony. She’s shy, she’s a pushover, she’s extremely kind and basically lets that demon bunny Angel get away with anything.

But Fluttershy’s also got this ‘stare’ that she uses on animals when they won’t do as she says. It’s very uncharacteristic  for Fluttershy to be bossy or mean.

fluttershy stare

Or is it?

When called for, Fluttershy can do anything, including joining in on Nightmare Night despite being afraid of everything, and helping Rainbow Dash bring water to Cloudsdale despite being a poor flyer.

Some characteristics can appear to be contradictory but it’s the author’s job to try to make them seem realistic. Unfortunately there’s a lot of readers out there who find contradictory characteristics to be unrealistic, despite it happening in real life.

Take me, for example.

I’m an introvert. I’d even go so far to say that I’m a little shy. People are constantly amazed that someone like me can get up in front of thousands of people and bare my soul by belting out a solo in musical theatre.

Shy people are supposed to get stage fright, right? Shy away from the spotlight. Only extroverts gambol about onstage because they love the attention.

And it’s true, I can’t break the ice with strangers. My voice literally sticks in my throat and I get so nervous I feel like I’m going to throw up.

Except for the time I walked up to and introduced myself to the Prime Minister of Australia.

See?

I’m also a mess of contradictions in a dress.

Realism And Suspension of Disbelief

And when it comes down to it, it’s not just about ‘realism’ or how well the author writes. It’s also up to the reader to suspend their disbelief. If they can’t handle a sweet and sassy ‘traditional’ princess who can also kick butt to defend herself yet never escapes from the dragon keeping her hostage, no matter how well the author writes it, the reader just isn’t going to accept it.

But maybe they should remember that the District of Colombia Miss USA 2016 winner is a badass military leader and a IT expert smashing gender expectations and contradicting her own characteristics everywhere she goes.

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