The first time Jessica Drew's chest really caught my attention was during Secret Invasion. Drawn in voluminous pop-off-the-page detail by Leinil Francis Yu, Spider-Woman's breasts were simply too distressingly weird to ignore. I suspect that if I had been a sixteen-year-old boy I would have been intrigued for very different reasons, but as a straight woman who would never go near a treadmill without a sports bra, the question going through my head was “Where is her support? What in the name of Galactus is holding those things in place?” Of course, Spider-Woman is not unique. Time and time again, you come across female characters in comics wearing costumes that look more like body paint than fabric.
The topic of how women are portrayed in comics has been an ever current point of discussion for years. While I would disagree that the female physique is always portrayed in ways that are less realistic than is the case for male heroes (how many men really look like Steve Rogers?), it is the female heroes who are usually guilty of wearing outfits that simply don't look up to the task. They leave delicate areas exposed, seem difficult to move around in and don't keep anything in place. With Women's Month coming to a close, I thought we'd take a look at the most outrageous trends in female costume design. Hit the jump for more skin.
Booty in Body Paint
As I see it, the problem with what these women are wearing on this cover is that they're not actually wearing anything. Adjust the color of those costumes to match the skin tone of each of these lovely ladies and draw nipples to complete the look and you have four naked superheroines staring back at you.
On the surface, the full-body costumes look like a nice step in the right direction, but these outfits are snug enough to look like nothing more than body paint - or possibly something in the high-tech nylon family.
You'd think this would upset me as a woman. To be honest, it upsets me more as a science geek. Spandex doesn't behave like that. But I'll tell you this, the day someone decides to give a male hero a form-fitted pair of tights that reveals every curve of said hero's crotch, I'll let this one go.
However, I can't see her moving for more than five minutes without having that skimpy costume start to dig into places it shouldn't be allowed to go. Ms Marvel isn't the only example of a superheroine who's made the unwise decision to pair an extremely high-cut suit with minimum coverage of her derriere, but we can be certain she's paying for it daily.
Oh, and don't get me started on the sash. I'd be hard-pressed to think of a more impractical costume detail...
Chafing Chest Plates
Metal does have one problem though. If we're not talking about something along the lines of chain mail, you're necessarily dealing with rigid structures that may not move along with the wearer. I see massive bruising, chafing and general discomfort. Ouch.
I will admit to being quite a fan of girls in armor though, and feel that metal symbolizes strength in a way that boob tube socks just don't. Would I recommend it outside the pages of a comic book? Probably not.
However, the look does work for the character and Emma's unapologetic way of pulling off all that sex appeal is refreshing in its honesty. It's like Black Canary's fishnet stockings in that it makes little sense, but is at least going all the way in what it's trying to communicate to the reader.
I just wish someone would give Emma a warm cardigan for Christmas. That, or we need more male heroes willing to fight crime while wearing a loin cloth (and, no, Ka-Zar doesn't count). In the interest of providing equal opportunity eye candy for comic book readers, it's only fair.
Supergirl must be the superpowered version of the Catholic school girl fantasy. Her costume, discussed in more detail by Kirk in a previous post, is a classic combination of (very) youthful and (overly) sexy and, aside from the practical aspects, I think that may be my main problem with it. It's a combination that very easily starts to look an awful lot like objectification of young girls, and that's just a tad creepy.
As Kirk mentioned in the post I linked to, Supergirl recently had the opportunity to try out a pair of sensible shorts to complete her outfit, and that's a step in the right direction.
However, too often the costumes we see on female characters defy both logic and taste, crossing the boundary from sexy to trashy. I say, tone down the body paint, scratch the wedgies and remember that form and function are a lovely combination. Being able to carry a pen under each boob while in costume isn't hot, it's just plain weird.