How to Build A Hero: Part 1 ~ Physique

 

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Although it seems irreverent, I sort of got the idea for this post from Build a Bear. 🙂  But romance writers create heroes, build them from the ground up.  And I thought it might be helpful to look at the major components and what kinds of things go into the creation of a romance hero.

Over the next few weeks I’ll post a series of three articles offering some of my research in what goes into creating heroes that women want to read and fantasize about.  The areas I’m going to look at are the physique, the features, and the characteristics of a hero.

The most fundamental question, perhaps, is how do women in the real world want a man to be built?  And after doing some research, I have a good inkling of what women want both in a real man and in a romance hero.

According to Men’s Health, women looking for a hook-up go for big muscles.  They are “looking for something hot.”  The ideal shape is the V-torso:  broad shoulders, small waist, narrow hips.  And tall to boot.

When they are looking for a husband, however, they choose “scrawny over brawny” according to an article on Netscape.  The big, muscular guys are nice to look at, but are deemed “less faithful, less likely to treat them well, less emotionally sensitive.”  Muscular guys are also deemed more intimidating and dominant.  For husband material women want a guy with an average build, a little taller than themselves, who is less hot and therefore less likely to stray and more likely to value family.

But if you look at most romance heroes (although there are exceptions of course) they combine the best of both worlds.  They are tall and broad-shouldered, with a small waist and narrow hips.  They are muscular and physically fit.  Quite often they dwarf the heroine.  They are, in fact, the ultimate hottie.

Despite this incredible build, however, the romance hero also possesses the attributes of the good husband:  faithful, family oriented, and sensitive to the heroine’s emotional needs. He may be intimidating and dominant, but the heroine is able to tame these attributes until they are non-threatening toward her. He is, quite simply, the best of both worlds.  This fantasy, of finding the perfect man, is at the core of romance novels.  The Happy Ever After is happy partially because the hero fulfills both roles of hottie and husband.

So we now have the perfect build for our hero.  Next week we’ll look at what features are most desirable to women.  And no, I’m not thinking that feature necessarily. LOL

Do you agree with the research?  Do women have a double standard for men?  And do romance heroes need to embody both standards?

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30 Responses to How to Build A Hero: Part 1 ~ Physique

  1. Pingback: E-Making of a Hero: Liza O’Connor’s Coming to Reason | Jenna Jaxon Romance–because passion is timeless.

  2. ki pha says:

    Reblogged this on doingsomereading and commented:
    Eeeeekkkk~!!!! 😉

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  3. Jessi Gage says:

    This is a fun discussion, Jenna. It makes me wonder what research would show about the best-of-both-worlds heroine for men. What would be their perfect body-type and internal composition for the woman of their dreams? Would she be like the heroines in romance novels, I wonder? I’m thinking she would be less opinionated and more deferring than most romance heroines, LOL!

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    • Jenna Jaxon says:

      LOL Jessi! I think you’re right. I’ve thought for a while that today’s romance heroines are more as women would like to see themselves and less as women really are. So would real men go for the kick-ass heroine or would they prefer the less in-you face type of woman? Sounds like a whole other post and a survey of men. Of course, it’s going to be hard to find men who read romance novels. LOL Thanks so much for coming by!

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  4. Daryl Devore says:

    Day late here – yes I’d say we have a double standard for our romance men vs our husband men. We know one is fantasy and the other is long term and for love.

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    • Jenna Jaxon says:

      And that’s a distinction women have to deal with emotionally and mentally. They have to know that the fantasy is seldom the reality and be willing to accept the reality. The romance hero is an ideal we can seek, but if we will settle for nothing less than the fantasy, we may very well end up alone. Thanks so much for coming by, Daryl! I definitely don’t mind latecomers! 🙂

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  5. Cd Brennan says:

    Jenna, I agree with almost all the ladies. I like a man over 6foot as I am fairly tall myself, but no bulging muscles for me. And not the gym type either. Although, saying that, my hubby is into working out (ex rugby). Ah, we are so different…unless you count wine-tipping a workout. What can I say? Opposites attract!

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    • Jenna Jaxon says:

      My hubby and I are opposites also, Cd. And sometimes it’s fun, but others…still it makes for an interesting life. 🙂 He’s very tall, not the bulging muscle type, but has a great sense of humor. Would he be romance hero material? Not in a standard romance. And he doesn’t want to be the hero. He wants to be the piano-playing town drunk. You see what I mean about a sense of humor? LOL Thanks so much for coming by!

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  6. I like men with a little bulk. Broad shoulders are a must, and he must be taller than me, if only by a few inches. I dated a guy who was 6’9″ once and that pretty much convinced me to limit my idea of “taller.” But fellas I’m attracted to don’t have to have 6-pack abs or spend 4 hours a day in the gym. Men who have more than an interest in body building are much more appealing. I live the life of the mind, and I like that in men, too. However, all that said, in my romance novels, I expect a guy to be dominant in a friendly way, fit and physically capable, and always intelligent, even wise. I believe there are guys like that out there, maybe more than we give them credit for. Beauty is definitely in the eye of the beholder.

    Wonderful article, Jenna. It really makes one think.

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    • Jenna Jaxon says:

      LOL Trish! Yes, taller is a relative term! And very definitely beauty is in the eye of the beholder, whether in the real world or in a romance novel. And one thing I think i’m convinced of is that looks don’t always matter most. They are the initial attraction usually, but it seems a lot of women will trade the drop dead gorgeous looks for someone who is kind, intelligent and has a sense of humor. Thank you so much for coming by today!

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  7. Melissa Keir says:

    I think that the difference is not just the body but the mind. Those body builders who spend so much time working out are not deemed as husband material because they are self centered on their bodies and workout routines. Women love men who are hot looking but who also have time to put them first. A scrawny guy who spends all his time working or hanging out with friends is still just as bad as someone who cheats in my opinion.

    My hubby has a v-shape body. He’s not as hot as he was years ago, but then again, I’m not either. 🙂 But it’s his mind and compassion toward me that make things work. We’ve been married almost 8 years.

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    • Jenna Jaxon says:

      And I think that’s something you find in the journey most romance novel couples take, where they find that they want to put the other one first in their life. It doesn’t usually start out that way–or let’s face it, there would be no conflict–but by the end they are in accord. The V-shaped man will always be hunky, but he won’t be a hero unless he’s less self-centered and more centered on his heroine. Thanks for coming by, Melissa! Sounds like you found your perfect hero too! 🙂

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  8. Carrie-Anne says:

    I love men over six feet tall, though not necessarily musclemen. I’m rather attracted to tall, lanky guys, but muscle mass is good too. I’m not so sure I’ll marry or have another relationship given my track record, but if I did, I’d want him to be at least five-eight. Since I’m only five-two in sneakers, I don’t want my kids to be at twice the risk of being short themselves. My ex-“fiancé” is about five-eight and not very muscular, though he had a brown belt in Tae Kwan Do at one point.

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    • Jenna Jaxon says:

      Well, I do hope you find the perfect man, Carrie-Anne! Everyone has an ideal and there are a lot of guys out there who will fill the bill. Finding them is the challenge! 🙂

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  9. ldsmith1818 says:

    I must be an outlier haha. I wouldn’t want to marry a guy smaller and more scrawny, or even normal. I want a big guy, maybe because I’m a tough cookie and I’d need a man who I couldn’t push around emotionally or physically in order to feel safe. I would definitely want a big tall muscled guy in order to feel protected. I wouldn’t want him to be domineering necessarily, but I sure wouldn’t want to date a push over you know?
    And on a side note, I’m a total sucker for the abs and the V shape body. Yum!

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    • Jenna Jaxon says:

      LOL Lauren! Scrawny is the word they used in the article I read, but the comparison they used was Ray Romano (who’s not a little guy really) and Arnold Swartzenagger as far as body type goes. So no, women don’t usually go for men shorter than them, but the guy doesn’t have to be a body builder either. And of course if you can have the whole 9 yards, hey, of course you’ll go for it! Nothing wrong with taking eye candy home with you. 🙂

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  10. Zenia says:

    I love being able to read about the hero with both attributes. Do you happen to know the name of those side muscles on a well built male. I guess they could be considered love handles on them but there has to be a name for them that can be described without calling them love handles. =)

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    • Jenna Jaxon says:

      I have no medical knowledge at all, so I dn’ know what they’re called, but on a hard body they probably can’t be called love handles–I doubt you could grasp them the same way! LOL I have a casual friend who has a well defined body that’s like a Greek statue–and just as hard. When I hug him there’s no softness whatsoever. I’ll have to see if I can find out a name for that side muscle group. Thanks for stopping in, Zenia!

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  11. I’ve always been drawn to men who are well built and taller than me, but lets face it being taller than me is not that hard! LOL I can’t think of a single man I’ve been involved with who wasn’t at least a foot taller than me.

    When it comes to romance novel heroes I want that muscular dominant build. As I read primarily historical romance I find that a strong and physical hero makes a heroine feel safe and in spite of the 19th century being civilized there were still dangers out there.

    It would be interesting to study the traits of men who stray. Many are the scrawny type, but even the handsome ones who stray are a bit too “pretty boy” for me.

    What a great idea for research, Jenna!

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    • Jenna Jaxon says:

      Since I read and write historicals too, I tend to think of those heroes as needing to be the big physical types. Like you said, the 19th century still had its dangers and the 18th century was very wild. You needed that physical protection from a man. Still, contemporary heroes, depending on their profession, need to be buff too. And of course there are dangers in the modern city as well.

      I may have to take up that study of the traits of men who stray–or do some research to see if it’s been covered. Thanks for stopping in, Louisa!

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  12. I have to have a guy taller than me. Don’t know why. It just is weird if a guy was a lot shorter than me. 🙂

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    • Jenna Jaxon says:

      Height is one of the requirements women seem most adamant about, Andrea. I don’t know if it’s ingrained or what, but most women (according to the research) want a man 1-3 inches taller than her at the minimum. I’ve had kind of the opposite problem because my husband is a foot taller than me! I’d really like him to be about 6″ shorter. LOL It would make dancing much easier!

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      • I’m with you here, Jenna. Mine is 6’4″ and I’m only 5’1″ – it has posed problems in all kinds of ways not just on the dance floor. I think my next man will be under 6 foot, it makes life much more comfortable.
        I just found this series and am totally hooked. Got yourself a new follower. 😉
        Thanks!

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  13. Judith Laik says:

    I’m not really turned on by the six-pack-abs look, especially when it looks like it came from a gym and not his occupational requirements for fitness. I think “seriously narcissistic” instead of “really masculine.” I wonder if, with the right treatment, an out-of-shape hero couldn’t be just as sexy as a guy with the stereotypical hero’s physique? (Okay, no man-boobs, I agree! Don’t mind a little bit of love-handles, though!)

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    • Jenna Jaxon says:

      I think the hero with the less than fabulous physique is out there, Judith. I haven’t run across a lot of them, but I think you’re right, that with the correct treatment a less than perfect body could win the day with the ladies. Many women are just as interested in what’s on the inside as the package it comes in. And I quite agree, no man-boobs please! 🙂 Thanks for coming by!

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  14. Pingback: How to Build A Hero: Part 1 ~ Physique | Collette Cameron Author

  15. My hubby is still well-muscled, and 30 years ago, he had a book-cover bod. He’s never been unfaithful, though both males and females have propositioned him.

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  16. Interesting. Particularly considering that many of the men making the news with infidelities are short and, what I would consider to be scrawny.

    Traditionally, women wanted a large, well-built man as a husband. The reason being that he was more able to protect her and any children. My husband is large, and, 32 years ago, had the V body. He’s also been faithful.

    I wonder what would happen if someone did a survey regarding the traits of unfaithful men.

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    • Jenna Jaxon says:

      Now that would be some interesting research. I wonder if we’ve gotten too tied to a stereotype of the good-looking guy being the playboy. Although I did check out some bodybuilder sites where the men themselves were saying that bigger and heavily muscled guys did not seem to be what women wanted.

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