In case you guys missed this a few weeks ago (in addition to being featured originally on Comics Alliance, it was also picked up by two of my favorite sites – Project Rooftop and Jezebel) here is part one of a great interview about superhero fashion with the illustrious Tim Gunn and comics historian Alan Kistler for the series Crazy Sexy Geeks.
As I said in a comment on Jezebel when it popped up there…I don’t really want to criticize either of these guys and this interview IS completely awesome….HOWEVER (isn’t there always a however?) I find it pretty frustrating that two such smart guys are just skipping over a huge part of the problem of the idealized body types (I’ll give Tim a pass since he’s not a superhero expert). The issue is not inequality between male and female superheroes because they are both idealized forms…of course they are…the problem is what those forms are BASED on. For the most part men get idealized ATHLETIC forms, which denotes power, ability, and strength (etc); while for the most part women get idealized MODEL/PORN STAR forms, which denotes beauty, sexuality, and far too often submissiveness.
And this same theme carries through to costumes and posing. Women get posed sexually, men get posed powerfully.
Yes, both sexes wear spandex, but the men are fully covered up (with a few usually logical exceptions – Namor comes instantly to mind) while women are subjected to swimsuits, thongs, fishnets, heels, unzipped body suits, skirts, bare midriffs, boob windows, and beyond (as well evidenced in their discussion in this clip) without any regard for if that fits their “character” the same way it makes sense for a character like Namor.
So while I still love this (and both these guys) it’s frustrating to see them blow off such a complicated issues with “see? it’s the same inequalities and idealization for BOTH the men and the women”.
If it was there wouldn’t have been a discussion of women in that clip as being portrayed as vulgar and slutty. Those characters are NOT vulgar and slutty (not that there’s anything particularly wrong with those characteristics) but it’s unfair to pigeonhole them as such because men have designed ridiculous costumes for them and given them idealized porn star figures for years.
Okay, end of rant (although I’ve been working on a post that delves more deeply into this issue…so of course expect to see more in the future). If you liked this first clip of Gunn and Kistler, check out part two here.