Since being cooped up indoors, I have admittedly been doing a little more “Netflix and Chill” (alone!) than normal. I watched a documentary called “Miss Representation” the other evening and it touched on something I thought was interesting, because I have noticed it and felt the same way!
I’m talking about the “sexy” super hero portrayal, particularly within the female realm. Not even just superhero’s but more broadly the “action” genre of media/film and video games. While trying to market things as “female empowerment” and “girls kicking ass” they completely undermine the actual authenticity and strength of the woman by the over-sexualization of her clothing, appearance and body type.
Lara Croft – Tomb Raider – Even dressed in a full t-shirt and pants, her character’s clothes are skintight!! I hope those trousers are of the “yoga pant” material because if not, it’s gonna be difficult to do all that jumping around. Her body is portrayed with laughable proportions, as are her facial features. The newest reboot with Alicia Vikander as the lead was a bit less ridiculous in the clothing and did seem to try and portray her as “fit” and “strong” rather than just a sex symbol.
Captain Marvel – I GET (to a degree) the necessity of aerodynamic suits for superhero work … but still, yet another representation of skintight clothing and a very misleading waist:hip:bust ratio.
Wonder Woman – Gal Gadot’s character not only gets skintight apparel, but then has a strapless corset style top and a damn skirt. Seriously? I get that it hearkens back to her “island” appearance of her youth – but it’s literally laughable later when they put her into era appropriate dresses, the contrast being undeniable. Also, the wonderful, strong Amazonian fighting women are all so powerful seeming – but just forced to power through a literal battle on the beach in fur covered swimwear? … ok…?
All in all – I make these points because I fear for the future little girls, who will grow up comparing themselves to the “strong” women on the silver screen – but who they will likely never be able to replicate. Between personal chefs, private trainers, full time jobs that allow them to work out endlessly, cosmetic surgery, airbrushing and green screens and SO much more, our girls (and women) have a measure to compare against that just cannot be replicated. I’m saddened by the fact that “strong” and “empowered” women (seemingly) can’t stand on their own merit. Their courage, their physical prowess, their brains or capability in their field aren’t seen unless packaged in a “sexy” body, flawless face and skintight clothing. Why can’t women embody their femininity and sexy appeal – yet still retain their creativity, mental capacities and skills? It is (and should be) both – but sadly the visual portrayal means we are digesting their appearance far more and far beyond what’s inside.
The true heroes of our hour (at this snapshot in history) are not wearing latex, they are wearing scrubs. They are outfitted with books to teach (via the internet), and wielding pen & paper to write legislation. They are in military uniforms, serving their country and bearing arms (firearms not biceps). These women are fully clothed AND fully capable. I hope we, as a society, begin to demand better and really push for realistic representation.