When it comes to the subject of body fat in comics, it’s not just a matter of being fat but also having flabby arms and legs in an otherwise normal weight body. I even half-suspected that why some cartoonists don’t give their characters and especially female characters flabby legs and arms is that either they’re so used to drawing muscular/skinny characters they can’t draw actual flab or that they’re afraid of making their female characters fat.
Even though ironically women tend to have more body fat than men do and if some women are predisposed to carry more fat in either their bellies or their legs, then the goal of having a toned stomach or toned legs would be this hard for them to achieve. In the case with big butts, it can go with muscular thighs but for some people it can also go with flabby thighs.
The latter, however, doesn’t show up that often in comics even though it’s one of those cases where if there’s a generous amount of fat in the lower body this should give way to a fattier, bigger bum. A proper pear shape if there’s ever one at all, though it’s something you don’t see that often in comics. Mostly due to a fear of making women look fat, which explains why they keep on giving them broken spines.
Or for another matter, giving them really narrow waists that can only be achieved due to a long time from wearing corsets. Maybe there are already cartoonists who give their female characters flabby arms and thighs, though it’s either not as well-known or possibly nowhere as popular as giving them toned arms and legs but really big butts and breasts. The latter I think you’ll encounter in cheesecake art a lot.
So much for claims about celebrating the female form, yet ignoring or glossing over the bodies of other women in favour of a nearly impossible ideal. It doesn’t help that the bodies of other women are often ignored or sometimes compared to the idealised physique unfavourably (especially in Frank Cho’s drawings). If it’s true, then there might be another reason why you don’t see flabby arms and thighs that often in comics.
But the thing here’s that for other women, losing body fat in other body parts is going to be hard. They can lift as much as they can, walk a lot as they can but still have flabby arms and thighs. They do get muscled, but they still have an amount of body fat. It seems in the world of superhero comics, the ideal woman has very muscled arms and thighs but also a big bum and bust. Not that there aren’t any muscular busty women.
But the only one I could name who isn’t fat is Rasa von Werder (also known as Kellie Everts when she was younger), she’s the only one that I can think of who’s built like a superheroine. It’s not that superhero cartoonists necessarily draw really muscular, almost flat-chested women (when they do, they get flack from misogynistic readers). But there’s a fear of making a woman look both fat and less feminine, as if these traits are mutually exclusive.
Maybe they are to an extent, but both because women tend to have more body fat than men do and that breasts contain a lot of fatty tissue so some women would find it hard to get rid of fat in their highs and some women wound up getting flat-chested if they lift a lot, diet a lot or are genetically predisposed to be thin. So it seems the slim but muscled and busty female character’s an impossible ideal for many others.
Maybe not entirely impossible, however it’s almost always impossible for women who’re predisposed towards certain body types. If you tend towards flabby thighs, then getting really muscular thighs would be really difficult. If you tend to be skinny, you’ll risk being really flat-chested if you lose more body fat. It doesn’t help that there are cartoonists who don’t diversify much in drawing different body shapes, that they’ll tend towards idealised shapes.
It’s like how Frank Cho’s got a habit of giving his female characters toned figures but big breasts and buttocks yet no flabby arms and thighs in sight, or why J Scott Campbell can’t give his otherwise normal weight women actual stomachs. Either it’s a fear of making them look fat, or that they idealise a certain body shape that they go so far to distort the anatomy to go after it. (It’s also telling that a Campbell male still has room for internal organs and a stomach.)
I do think it’s telling whenever cartoonists barely give some female characters actually flabby arms or thighs that they do adhere to an ideal, or if one woman gets unfavourably compared to another (as you see in Frank Cho’s cartoons) that says a lot about how they see women as.