This past week we got a brand new costume for Wonder Woman in the comics. This time around she’s wearing pants. Whether or not you like the way it looks, it’s certainly going to be easier to fight in. I’ve been thinking about it since it came out and it’s gotten me into a lot of late-night discussions about female costumes.
Before you start typing me that angry tweet, let me say this. I don’t think there is anything wrong with being sexy or looking sexy. I love the Slave Leia costume! She freaking strangles Jabba the Hutt in it! However, Carrie Fisher has stated that it was hard to — ahem, keep things where they were supposed to be in a metal bikini top.
Have you ever tried to do yoga in a bathing suit? Doesn’t work. You know why? It doesn’t hold anything in! Now, I know we’re talking fantasy in movies, TV, video games and comics. I don’t believe that a real person could wield a sword the size of Sigfried’s in the old game “Soul Calibur,” but Ivy’s costume stretches even the most elastic bits of acceptance to the breaking point. (I’m not saying she shouldn’t be drawn that way. I’m saying it’s a fun discussion to have.) Boobs the size of pumpkins cannot stay inside a one-inch piece of fabric, no matter how strong. If they were even really attempting to hold them in, boob physics (yes, I wrote that) would argue that they’d be smooshed in a bit.
Again, this isn’t a “don’t do it that way” piece. However, as I watch shows or read comics, I’ll find myself saying things like, “You can’t fight with a long pony tail! It’s practically a handle for your enemy!” or “No more boob armor! If she fell, her chest would be cut open by the edge of those things! Physics!” “Why would you have a metal bra on to fight but have nothing covering your stomach? You can die from a gut wound! Oh, right. You’re protecting the important bits.”
The reason I say all of this is that it might be interesting for artists and costume designers to consider what takes you out of the story. Or be wiling to admit what is done for artistic reasons vs. what is done for the straight male gaze. If that’s your thing, go for it. If you’re looking to bring in other types of readers or viewers as many studios and comic book companies are, it’s something worth thinking about. A friend of mine said to me recently that lots of male superheroes are drawn in skin-tight outfits that show an unrealistic muscle structure, so it’s not surprising that women are. There is a difference though. They’re drawn that way to look strong. Female characters are drawn in similar outfits to look sexy.
What I’m saying is this: How about we combine the two? And for Pete’s sake, no more fighting in pony tails!