Anastasia Steele is the female protagonist in the popular E. L. James trilogy Fifty Shades of Grey. In the books, Steele is portrayed as a relatively attractive 21-year-old woman who is a bit naive and insecure. She meets the male protagonist, Christian Grey, when she fills in for her roommate to interview Grey, an attractive and powerful business man. As their relationship progresses, Steele discovers that Grey has a much darker side. The two begin a relationship in which Steele is introduced to sex and BDSM.
"Fifty Shades of Grey" was wildly popular, and topped many best seller lists. This book has been credited for helping modern-day women, from housewives to co-eds, embrace their sexuality. In the wake of the book's release, sex toy sales rose dramatically. Bondage and S&M toys were particularly good sellers.
As a character, Anastasia Steele has been both heralded as a heroine for female sexuality, and denounced as weak, submissive and lacking in self esteem.