Redefining Female Superheroes

wonderwomen

I recently came across this blog post about a young woman who dared to go to Comic Con and participate in a portfolio review to share some of her drawings of female superheroes.  Among the drawings she submitted was this picture:

batgirlApparently, the reviews of the above drawing were rather brutal, not because the drawing wasn’t good, but because the woman in the drawing didn’t represent the proper proportions necessary for saving the world.  The artist reported that one reviewer said:

“Her breasts are much too small and do not have the lift that superhero women should have. Her jawline is fat and her neck much too long. The style of her hair is clunky and does not flow in a sense that a super human would. Her hips, waist and thighs are too big and she honestly looks fat. No one is going to want to read a comic with a fat female protagonist. I honestly recommend looking at issues of Sport’s Illustrated to get the right anatomy. Those women are the peak of human perfection, and that is what we want in this industry.”

Okay.  So what we want is the “peak of human perfection”–which for women, means perky breasts, thin hips, waist and thighs and flowing hair.  So while she’s saving the world, she can do promotional spots for hair conditioners and late night infomercials for fitness gimmicks?  Because the real superpower of a woman is boosting the economy with multifarious credit cards–assuaging her insecurity with extremely expensive but patently useless products, right? Right?

It’s perhaps not too surprising that a lot of people are starting to find this notion of female superhero as supermodel kind of frustrating.  And naturally, it has spawned some delicious and highly creative backlash.  (Yay, Internetz!) There’s this contest created on DeviantART inviting artists to submit their interpretations of a a fat female superhero. The creator of the contest shares her delight at both the incredible diversity of the drawings submitted and the fact that cartoonists are willing to step out of their comfort zone to draw body diversity.  There are so many cool pictures on there, it’s worth a look.  Seriously.

Then there’s this recent project, where Alexandria Law takes pictures of little girls dressed up like superheroes and draws them.  The photos of the kids are so cool.  These kids are clearly are having fun while demonstrating some well needed “girl power”.  I also love how the resultant drawings are powerful without being hypersexualized.  (Is that a real word?  If not, it should be.)

Little-Girl-Superheroes-09By the way, any kid that pairs a tutu and body armor wins super extra bonus points in my book.  And, I was heartened to see some movement towards recognizing that superheroes don’t all come in Sports Illustrated packages.

Which leads us to the origin of the picture on the top of this post.  It was created by Chicago artist twin sisters Sarah and Catherine Satrun.  They created this piece for sale at C2E2 (Chicago Comic Entertainment Expo in part as a response to those recent ads by Dove.  (More on that tomorrow).  And this image has started to go super, mega, viral. Which is curious in light of the reviewers statement that “nobody is interested in a comic with a fat female protagonist”.

So, my dear readers.  Here’s to the understanding that we are ALL Wonderwomen.  We all have the power to fly.  If not on stubby little wings like this fat chick, or an invisible plane, maybe with your very own superhero cape!

Then again, maybe not…

Love,

The Fat Chick

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10 thoughts on “Redefining Female Superheroes

  1. Catherine & Sarah

    Thanks for sharing our artwork in this article. How shameful of the comic book industry. I really hope things change soon and that this artist can find success in comics using realistic body types.

    Reply
  2. BJ

    That might be what the *industry* wants. But the people who actually *buy* the comics — which includes people who aren’t over- or underweight guys who don’t get laid — might disagree.

    Reply

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