Laurell K. Hamilton focuses a lot on exotified/exoticized bodies. I may have touched on the topic on several occasions at Elia’s Diamonds, but here’s the real deal. By making them normative, Hamilton hypes up the hype and fetishizing surrounding certain body types. For example, several of the polyamorous Anita’s guyfriends and/or significant others and sex partners are “exotic dancers” (I don’t know how PC that is, so the quotations), strippers, have been prostitutes, cops/ex-military/mercenaries, or trained dancers. Most of the men surrounding her are either totally survival-of-the-fittest-tight-bod or decorative beauties. Normal yet intelligent guys (Zerbrowski? Maybe? Though he is a cop….) with just enough fighting skill to get them out of a tough situation are few and far between. Women for that matter, too. Most of the women are either weaker than her or some kind of challenge to her. I understand that normal people will most likely die around her, sure, but that doesn’t cover the fact that Anita looks down on people who are, er, “preternaturally challenged” (meaning that they are human), or who are survivors of physical and sexual abuse and torture at the same time that she champions them.
It’s like taking all the beauty and the brutality of the world’s most prominently exotified animals, mixing them with human beings, and putting them in strip clubs and other places where people sell sex, and saying this is the world, deal with it. This isn’t to ignore the kitchen-bedroom-restaurant-life scenes; its just to draw more attention to the exoticizing. The most problematic thing for me is that if lycans really existed, this is probably how it would be. Although, Hamilton claims that being made a vampire doesn’t make you any sexier or rather it doesn’t change your appearance. But does lycanthropy change your appearance (since it changes your metabolism and eating habits)??? The unanswered question, yah! If I’m not mistaken.
The further you get along in the series, the less “normal” people you see as main characters. And primarily by “normal”, I mean usual body types or ostracized body types. Its all six-packs, broad shoulders, breasts-that-need-bras or cute small high tight breasts, muscles-in-extra-places-that people-can’t-see-and-that-mere-humans-don’t-have, sexy but petite lingerie, curls and waves and long hair, brushed silk drawers, kinky corsets, pale white this and pale white that, blonde hair-blue winter-spring sky eyes, the ardeur made me do this and the ardeur made me do that. And Hamilton seems to think that adding in some scars here and some folds there makes that big of a difference. Just like she seems to think that giving Anita curly hair and dark eyes makes her appearance less than that of a white girl.
Anita tries hard not to boo-hoo about being half-Latina in her blonde family. Reality check, honey, you’re white to most eyes….
A character like Jamil is portrayed as “dark-skinned ‘muscle'”, of course. And, of course, his body is probably very tight.
I’m not going to lie: I’ve been socialized to think that tight bodies and thinness are sexy. That defined curves and hollows reign supreme. In some part of my mind, I’m always questioning what I think is beautiful or sexy because I know its social conditioning from a society that has taught me not only to hate myself but to disregard and harshly criticize body types that aren’t of the type of molds Hamilton depicts. Those bodies that everybody secretly thinks of as sexy and slutty and beautiful.
The disclaimer here is that the tight bod, hypersexualized bodies in these books are kind of an embedded motif. That is to say, the exoticism is part of the package.
Ever more on point,