Two of the biggest teen series to hit the 21st century are without a doubt Twilight and The Hunger Games. Their main characters, Bella Swan and Katniss Everdeen respectively, have since become role models, as well as household names, particularly with young tweens and teens. The problem we have, however, is that Bella does not represent the type of person young girls should aspire to be.
I read The Hunger Games series and the first two books of the Twilight Saga. Unlike Hunger Games, the reason I never got to the final two Twilight books was because I so strongly disagreed with codependent Bella being portrayed as a female heroine. Throughout the Twilight series, Bella goes through bouts of depression and nearly dies several times because of her love for vampire Edward, but ultimately survives due to Edward saving the day. Edward saves her by merely returning her affections when she’s depressed for weeks, and by actually protecting her against werewolves and other vampires. Bella, rather than prioritizing her health and well-being, becomes dependent on Edward for her happiness and, ultimately, her survival.
Bella’s character provides young teens with the impression that “love conquers all” when your only priority is being with that person. I would argue that your priority should be yourself by creating a well-balanced life, not a life that completely revolves around another person.
Strong courageous Katniss, on the other hand, I have no problem getting behind. Unlike Bella, Katniss prioritized the welfare of her family and her own survival, and pushed her romantic life aside until she had the capacity to deal with it. I believe Katniss proves to be the better role model for girls because she’s more emotionally balanced by not allowing the romantic attentions of young men to compromise her decision making.
***Because the OYM team is such a big fan of Katniss, there will be another post about her tomorrow – stay tuned!