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Real Women Aren't Shiny (or Plastic)

The Adolescent Female Body in YA Fantasy

Leah Phillips

In this article I explore how mythopoeic Young Adult (YA) fantasy offers examples of living and being an adolescent female body that challenge the dominant, hegemonic discourses dictating the adolescent girl's appearance in the West's imagesaturated culture. I begin by establishing the features of mythopoeic YA fantasy, before looking at Daine in Tamora Pierce's Immortals quartet and Cinder(ella) in Marissa Meyer's The Lunar Chronicles. Daine's shape-shifting body and Cinder's cybernetic one offer bodily change as an integral part of the (adolescent female) body, as opposed to the fixed perfection required by the fantasy femininity on offer in popular culture, including print, televisual, and social media. Employing a reading of touch in order to explore the multiplicity that is available on, and through, these bodies, I question the representational economy dominating the hegemonic discursive construction of the adolescent girl.