Be careful with what you wish for

There’s nothing wrong with wanting verisimilitude in superhero fiction and the like but if it was mandatory, that’ll be realising that characters like Barry Allen don’t always wear tight outfits and that’s already true in-story. It would however be more interesting if Barry Allen spent way more time wearing different outfits.

But that’s because it’s just easier to draw characters in the same or similar outfits all over again for fear of being off-model. Even when in real life they could and will always step out of their public image anyways. Beyonce probably dresses more like the average woman most of her time.

The press expects her to dress otherwise even when she doesn’t feel like it. The same happens to any fictional character if they ever existed at all.


Need for modesty

There has been some discussion over what superheroines wear in the comics and likely a generation of cartoonists have been influenced by those to the detriment of a vocal number of readers that can’t stand the lack of cheesecake. The bigger problem isn’t just the costumes and cheesecake but that there’s a time and place for those.

Popstars only wear skimpy outfits on certain occasions and it’s far likelier for somebody like Beyonce to wear more modest outfits most of the time. If she shows up at a business meeting, she’ll dress up soberly thus proving my point. Same thing goes for sex scenes and why they make more sense when they’re in the appropriate context.

There lies the real problem with superhero cheesecake, it’s not that they don’t change their outfits frequently but that those that dress skimpily default to what readers expect of them even though if they existed, they wouldn’t always wear those either.


I guess given the superhero aesthetic’s growing desire for realism in art as to be easily adapted for live action, one has to be careful with what they wish for. This includes how female characters are drawn. Not that female athletes lack noticeable breasts but since breasts are made of fat and female athletes exercise a lot so they’d be less busty.

It’s also dependent on the bone structure that can support bigger breasts as these get heavy. Some buxom women even get chest reductions. That and not everybody looks the same. Not to mention the actors who get to play those characters don’t always perfectly fulfill those expectations for whatever reason and circumstance.

As for Carol Danvers, well it looks like she’s exercising a lot and has the same build as many of the earlier female bodybuilders. Muscular but not too muscular and predictably flatter-chested than normal. Something like Rachel McLish back in the day. (Elektra’s based on Lisa Lyon.)

While making every character flat-chested is just as bad, a better question is why should female characters need to be this strongly marked to be female? As if there’s not much subtlety and variation to begin with.

Slender Woman

Here’s something that I don’t get with some fantasy fiction depictions of comely women…at times. It’s as if whenever I read the description, I imagined the character to be fashion model skinny. Not that straight men aren’t attracted to fashion models, it seems whenever such female characters are illustrated at that their builds are closer to glamour models.

Though there’s some overlap, especially in how they’re treated and abused at times as well as with Victoria’s Secret models but generally tend to target different audiences. But it could be me expecting the pretty slender elf woman to look more like a fashion model than a glamour model. And that if the target audience for these fantasy women are stereotypical fat nerds, then they’d seem slimmer in comparison.

But it could just be me getting weirder out with what I expected and got.

The near-perfect muse

I bemused about what an asexual rockist popstar would be like, given the potentially sexist implications as women get damned for their sexuality (and sometimes singlehood at the expense of motherhood and being a wife). The asexual rockist popstar, if female, would seem near-perfect and be the near-perfect muse.

She’s practically untarnished, free to be immortalised in the media in a way other muses can’t and will never be. Elizabeth Siddal’s a Victorian muse who’s also an aspiring artist as well as somebody’s troubled wife. Sometimes said muse gets married to somebody else. At other times she turns out to have bad taste or wastes her motherhood on something else.

That isn’t to say that this hypothetical creature is perfect but rather her asexuality gives a curiously saintly air to it. Unable to experience sexual desire herself instead of deliberately controlling it, she becomes the true unrequited love of many. That’ll trouble other women who feel unworthy of her.

That’s the curse of being an asexual muse.

Closer to reality

Like I said about Fiffi Anaman and Usain Bolt, there’s going to be real life people who aren’t even actors who’re far closer to what fans expect of how the characters should be presented as. Usain Bolt’s practically a real life black Wally West not just because he runs fast but also because he’s said to be outgoing and easygoing. Much like how Wally was portrayed in the cartoons.

Logically Fiffi Anaman’s everything Supergirl’s James Olsen’s supposed to be, right down to the fashion sense being more reminiscent of the latter’s comics counterpart. It’s pretty remarkable that a real life person who’s not an actor (Fiifi’s an actual cub reporter and Usain’s a sprinter) is like a fictional character coming to life. A case of truth being stranger than fiction.

Pretty Fly For a Fire-Haired Guy

It seems redheaded men get short thrift in the media and society. Not that they can’t get laid but rather they’re hardly sexualised. There are some romance novels that do want to write about a red-haired hero but end up compromising by giving him reddish or chestnut brown hair instead. A similar process happened to Twilight’s Edward and 50 Shades’s Christian where they get played by a blond and a brunet instead.

Harry Potter’s one of the few book adaptations where the ginger characters stay the way they are (and some of the actors dye theirs red). Outlander’s another example where a blond actor dyed his hair to resemble the character who’s a red-haired leading man. Of course they’re getting lucky with calendars and books like Red Hot 100. Though well publicised, it remains to be seen if it can help overturn such stereotypes.