Tuesday, June 05, 2007
A Serious Musing on the Female Body
This weekend I was able to have some interesting discussions with both women and men about realistic expectations and the portrayal of female bodies in comic books. One lady I spoke to felt strongly that a strong woman isn't afraid to dress sexier and more provocative. She also felt that the woman in question would dress more to please herself then to send a message of seduction to the men that might see her. It was an interesting point, and one that would naturally merit both immediate opposition and insight a great deal of thought. That discussion isn't the point here, but it really made me think.
As a woman who has battled her weight my entire adult life, I have always tried to dress modestly. Ideally, I want to look strong and healthy. I want to be able to wear a tank top or sleeveless shirt on a warm day. I like to wear shorts and skirts, and I like them to be above the knee. I don't particularly like lowcut blouses, but I like some breathing room in the neck. If I looked like the lovely Jamie Eason (pictured), an Oxygen cover model, I would most likely wear a two piece swimsuit to the beach without regret, and you know what? I would do it for myself. Hmm...
It really made me ponder how attainable a healthy, attractive body is to attain. As someone who works out six days a week, and lifts weights as well as doing cardio, I know it is quite difficult. I have been battling the "last 15 pounds" for the last month and a half, and it is driving me nuts. Several of my friends this weekend said that they find themselves in that position as well. That is why when I see Selina Kyle struggling into her Catwoman outfit after giving birth to her daughter, I really appreciate the realism of it all.
I loved Digital Femme's post about what a female super hero would look like if she were a real woman. Cheryl Lynn found pictures of fit women and made them into heroes. It was an eye opener. It also made me really respect Cheryl Lynn's point of view. She reads Oxygen like I do, and has a healthy appreciation for the amount of effort put into being so toned.
I would say that my point is this: I want to see female super heroes at least look healthy. As much as they work out and have to depend on excellent physical health to fight crime, they would have similar bodies to those I see in the fitness magazines I read, or the ladies I see at the gym. This means that the arms are toned and strong, and that the legs have powerful and toned thighs that have a muscular edge. As Cheryl Lynn points out, the waist wouldn't be so thin, but more cut and defined as well.
There will always be a market that showcases women as victims. Those are not books I am interested in reading. I want to read about Wonder Woman kicking ass. I love it when Power Girl and Black Canary stand toe to toe with the guys. The fact that these ladies are chairwomen of their respective teams makes me insanely gleeful. I am not always thrilled with the outfits the ladies wear, but I usually focus more on the overall fitness and general appearance. I have no doubt that the Huntress or Black Canary could kick my ass, and I know they have worked hard to do so.
Bottom line: I want my female heroes to look strong and healthy. While I don't necessarily know if I will ever attain my personal goal of having a fit body like the models in Oxygen or Flex, I know I have a hell of a lot better chance of looking that way then I do of looking like Mary Jane, who is a super model. I will never be 5'10 and stick thin, but I can be in good shape and have a long, healthy life. That is what matters in the end.