A historian, feminist, and nerd living in Boise, ID. That is, this is the blog of someone who is all of those things, not the blog of three different people who are each one of those things. That would just be confusing.
who is this woman?! she’s so pretty and strong and i love her shape. can she be a superhero, please??
EDIT: okay, apparently she is Samantha Wright. gif is from this video.
Hey look, an awesome lady doing awesome stuff, AND a chance to talk to people about body types!
Because here’s the thing - I have seen a hella lot of shit posted on tumblr about “waif-fu,” which is basically mocking the idea that women like Summer Glau or Sarah Michelle Gellar could ever be badasses. They’re too skinny! They’re too frail! A big strong man could snap them like a twig! And I think that Ms. Wright here may have the body type that people think is more appropriate to a superhero/soldier/badass woman; densely muscled, powerful, big thighs etc. This, I think, is the ideal that Ms. Glau or Ms. Gellar fall short of.
But what people don’t seem to understand is that they are taking what they see in male superheroes/soldiers/badasses and grafting it onto female superheroes/soldiers/badasses without really questioning what it is they’re seeing in either gender. Because the thing is - Ms. Wright lifts weights. This is a weightlifter’s body. Chris Evans and Chris Hemsworth lift weights - those are also weightlifter bodies. For all that they might box or do yoga on the side, the actors who embody the Steve McGarretts or Derek Hales lift a shitton of weights, and that’s where their physique comes from (that and a shitton of nutritional restriction).
You know who has an actual fighter’s body? Robert Downey, Jr. And he is very attractive, and incredibly fit, but he’s not particularly broad or tapered; he’s got muscle pretty evenly distributed, and although he looks good without his shirt off he doesn’t look that intimidating. And for women, it’s no different; I knew a 110-pound girl who could beat the ass of any guy who came in the ring with her, and she wore her hair in Princess Leia buns while she did it.
I think it’s fine to bemoan the lack of body diversity in film, and even fine to say that the things we want to see our actors doing don’t line up often enough with the bodies we want to see our actors having. But making fun of “waif-fu” is just another way to body shame, with the added bonus of reinforcing the (incorrect) notion that you have to be big and buff in order to protect yourself. Thin women, skinny women, frail women - they can kick ass, probably harder than you’re comfortable admitting. Stop telling them what they should look like while they’re doing it.
This young woman has a wonderful form, I’d love to draw it. That said, Gus makes a really great point. This woman has a physique closer to a bodybuilder, which is great, but most action heroes shouldn’t have bodybuilding appearances, really, even men. He brings up a good point about too many male superheroes/etc having bodybuilding physiques when that’s really not the right type for that sort of adventuring.
This interpretation of men in particular largely comes from Arnold Schwarzenegger’s legacy, who conditioned us to associate being fighting fit with a body shape that’s really more appropriate for just lifting weights, not jumping out of helicopters or wrestling alligators. That big muscular physique you see in comic books would really be terrible for fighting crime. (Fun fact: Schwarzenegger’s longtime body double, Peter Kent, is of a thinner build and is actually capable of pulling off those famous stunts.)
Long story short: yes, women and men should have muscles and body definition if we’re going to take them seriously as action characters, but at the same time this doesn’t mean they all need to look like weightlifters either.
This is some great commentary but it also feels really “wait,don’t!” to me. I know that this is important to point out but this is one example of a different body type that is being embraced widely and it’s kind of a downer to me that we can’t just enjoy that without being reminded of this, that and the other(all the ways it’s wrong). I mean, male superheroes shouldn’t be built like bodybuilders, but they are. So I don’t want to hold female superheroes up to standards that male superheroes aren’t. The should thing just feels like another roadblock for women being anything but über slim and willowy and/or busty.
I know this isn’t supposed to defend the problems. But I just want to be able to enjoy it without the fine print. I don’t think it would be wrong to see female superheroes built like this. Abilities vary as much as body type. I’d rather think about that than feel like I’m enjoying it too much because it’s a little off. What isn’t these days? Let’s enjoy a bit of progress for body types while we can IMO.