Excellent analysis and super timely. This wasn’t something I noticed as I read the book, but I have noticed the pattern as well: The strong heroine needs is really pretty, though she doesn’t know/feel it, and the hero-love interest comes along and validates it for her.
I think a lot of young women identify with that – they don’t feel pretty, either – and then they wait for a hero-love interest to prove it. ‘Cause that’s what happens in books.
What do they do when life doesn’t turn out that way?