Sunday, October 02, 2011

Wonder Woman needs a Wonder Bra

(Also titled Boobs Do Not Work That Way! BACK TO YOU!)

This is a thought that spun violently, like Darth Vader in a tie fighter, away from Wonder Woman's widely debated costume change this past summer

I'd like to take a moment to talk about boobs.

They're super popular, they're functional and they come in all shapes and sizes! Here's a super informative, super graphic wikipedia article! (NSFW) I'd like to draw particular attention to a specific passage:

There is considerable variation in the volume, shape, size and spacing of a woman's breasts.[9] They vary in size, density, shape, sag and position on a woman's chest, and their external appearance is not predictive of their internal anatomy or potential for nursing.

Fascinating! You learned something today!
But it would seem these facts do no apparently apply to Super Heroines.

There are at least four examples in the above who have given birth in some continuity and their junk is still in mint condition! Not cool! Ok, ok so this is sort of unfair, they are fictional, fantastic, regularly athletic specimens of woman-hood and probably shouldn't be held to realistic standards...but I'm gonna do it anyway! So there!

We women, here in reality land, go through a lot to make "the girls" stand up and face front. In fact there is a long a torturous history of strapping our bits into a multitude of sweaty medieval wire-framed monstrosities that both lift and separate. It's necessary, nobody thinks saggy boob looks good. (Support your ta-tas! It's good for your back! Here is some more helpful and informative reading material! Also NSFW.)

But I can probably find you lots of examples of fictional characters in general and female superheroes specifically whose often ample "ladies" seem to sit at attention without the assistance of anything more than sheer willpower.

Recent issues of Catwoman have made it vividly clear that Selena does in fact wear a bra under her leather catsuit. It is what appears to be a strapless frothy lace selection from a lingerie catalog,
but it's there. This at least proves her sweater kittens are being supported by something other than skintight leather and a prayer. But how, I ask you, can she then take off at a sprint up several flights of stairs and take flying leaps off of building and scaffolds and what-have-you without so much as a nip slip!? There aren't even straps on that thing! I have to readjust my own bra several times a day just sitting at a desk!

Boobs, as I'm sure you know, are not stationary objects. (At least, not real ones.) They are sacks of goo, just as susceptible to the laws of physics as everything else. No matter what their alignment, it seems that super-boobs are breaking the law.

I'll try to put this as delicately as possible. The act of running or jumping or fighting, especially for a woman with...assets, (and I speak from personal experience) can be painful unless you strap those puppies down. This is why sports bras exist.

I can almost give a pass to characters like Power Girl, (Can't talk about super-boobs without at least mentioning her.) I don't care how powerful she is, she shouldn't be able to stand up straight for more than ten minutes at a stretch, never-mind lift buses over her head! (Her back muscles are probably ridiculous looking.) But, she's super strong, so whatever. Her costume isn't that bad. It seems reasonably hardy and maybe has built in structure (and possibly industrial strength double-sided tape to prevent peeping) to support her ridiculous rack. I don't know and I doubt the people who designed her costume thought very hard about it.

But that's my beef! And so I say to thee, comic book creators, artists, writers, publishers, ALL of you! BOOBS DO NOT WORK THAT WAY!

I'll speak specifically on the costume design issues. I'm gonna use more DC examples because I'm more familiar with DC characters but here's the thing: Power Girl ain't where my problem is.

Wonder Woman had been getting some press this last summer, for a "controversial" change in costume. The woman has had a lot of different looks over the years. All of them silly, (in my opinion.)
Her new look this summer was all about PANTS. Which I was down with. It's always seemed a bit silly to me that she was stuck with an almost constant star-spangled wedgie from running around in high heeled boots and grannie panties. I didn't like that she seems to have mugged Black Canary for her leather jacket, and the W's on her bracelets are cringe inducing.
But this new look ALSO included straps on what has historically been a shiny tube top! Finally! Why has she consistently been stuck with a costume that is almost entirely non-functional and un-supportive? When she's chasing bad guys down she must be constantly pulling up and readjusting that thing just off panel. It's really a wonder she catches anyone! (Ahaha!...sorry)

A few of Wonder Woman's contemporaries have had similar costume issues. For example Black Canary used to sport what was basically a strapless one piece bathing suit and fishnets on top of high-heeled pirate boots, but she traded it in for a (slightly) more appropriate high collared one piece bathing suit, patterned tights and boots that are functional and more suitable for ass-kicking.

A lot of super heroines don't have this issue at all. Super-Girl is usually chastely dressed 'cause she's a teenager. Zatanna is really just wandering around in her work uniform. Batwoman and Batgirl are covered from head to toe. Big Barda; an equal to Wondy in many ways has a version of her costume that is basically a red space-bikini. For the most part she's more commonly shown in her armored Fury costume. (Big Barda can pretty much wear whatever she wants 'cause I'd like to see you tell her she can't.)

Almost the entirety of the women of the X-Men (with the notable exception of Emma Frost) and the Avengers tend to leave "the goods" to the imaginations of the readers. (Not that I'm saying those costumes aren't ridiculous looking in their own right) And you can make a reasonable argument that their skintight uni-tards have some modicum of support built into them.

It's mainly Wonder Woman who keeps getting stuck running around in an outfit that has a much higher chance of getting her arrested for indecency than having any worth in a crime fighting capacity.
Now, even after her revamp this summer, Wonder Woman has gotten yet another look in the New 52 comics, (sometimes with, sometimes without pants.) But, alas, we're back to the strapless look from before.

I get that it's iconic and that it doesn't really matter, (because us girls are such a small part of the audience comics are aimed at, which is dumb). I get that dudes just don't care; that they don't want to think about her that way. And honestly, I don't really want to read a comic where Diana stops mid-battle to adjust her bra either, but I feel like I already do. To me, her costume design is that distracting. The iconography argument only goes so far. A real woman trying to do anything involving major physical exertion wearing that costume would undoubtedly end up looking like this:
It doesn't matter how tight it is, she's gonna pop right outta the top of that thing eventually, then no super-villain is gonna be able to take her seriously. Why do we keep going back to that design? It doesn't work! What do we have to do to get comic creators to see that?

Ok, rant ending. Here are some my favorite costume alternatives that really work! They look comfortable, while still having the sex appeal factor! Leave your thoughts in the comments!



Anonymous said...

I'm a guy, i agree. I have to make a comic book hero for a high school class project, and i choose a female. I want to mostly thank you for the alternative outfits of WW. I've been trying to create that same type of costume that's practical and iconic, but still sexy. Not over the top sexy, just enough. I don't want her to be another piece of ass in comics. That happens to too many good characters already in my opinion. That's enough about my sitch, regarding the outfit issue, id have to say the one piece aspect of her costume isn't the most recognizable detail of her costume. while i do agree that i am male and i don't really think about her having to adjust that outfit, if it really does distract from the character that much it should be changed. Thanks for the female perspective on this, now back to my project.

Raph said...

Are the breasts of these superheroes/villains realistic? No. Are the costumes practical? No. Do the readers care? No.