Books & Comics Fangirl

Superheroine Costume Controversy

newpowergirl An adorable collection of illustrations have had the cosplay and comic community in a tizzy this week! They are by Michael Lee Lunsford and show female comic characters with redesigned outfits that are much more modest.  The skimpy clothes that female characters wear in comics have long been a controversial topic, especially among female fans. Some fans feel that the skimpy clothes are a way to pander to the young male demographic. Others feel that a woman should be free to wear whatever she likes and that there is nothing wrong with skimpy clothes. These pictures have rekindled the debate on how females are depicted in comics, and in turn, how cosplayers represent those characters in the real world. As an avid comic reader and cosplayer, I also had a very strong reaction to them.

 

catwoman52I agree that women have the right to wear whatever they want, but most comic book characters are being designed and drawn by men. There is no women’s choice involved. The lithe female character poses and convenient camera angles of many panels only serve to further objectify the female characters in a way that simply doesn’t happen with male characters. The impracticality of the designs is what annoys me the most. Yes, it’s easier to do gymnastics in a leotard, but is it the most practical thing to wear when you are being shot at? It’s really the last straw when you see a design as ridiculously exaggerated as Catwoman’s unzipped suit.  Is it really that important that her breasts are exposed as she’s trying to sneak through Gotham unseen? WHY THE HELL WOULDN’T SHE JUST ZIP IT UP? In an era where many male characters are moving from spandex to body armor, it’s hard to continue to excuse the amounts of skin showing on many female characters.

newelecCosplayers are a completely different situation because they are REAL PEOPLE and who can make their own choices. If someone makes a woman wear a skimpy outfit without any choice, she becomes objectified and loses power. If a woman chooses to wear that same outfit because it makes her feel good, she has the power. The freedom of choice makes all the difference! The element of choice is why I have a problem with male artists designing skimpy female outfits, but do not have an issue with cosplayers creating and wearing those outfits. I often see cosplayers of both genders tweak character designs to be more flattering or comfortable for them to wear in public. Sometimes their self-expression means adding fabric to make it more modest, sometimes it involves showing more skin. Neither choice is “better” because it all depends on the individual cosplayer. Original designs are just as valid a form of cosplay as exact replicas of character outfits.

newWWThese pictures are a great artistic exercise, and I love the conversation they have started on this topic. That said, I’m not a huge fan of all the designs. I think Electra is amazing and easily my favorite, with Psylocke coming in a close second. Many of the designs are very interesting, but I’m not a fan of the baggy look that many of them are sporting. The khaki pants on Wonder Woman don’t seem to match the rest of her design, but I really like how he altered the upper half of her outfit. Michael has a great artistic style that shows the unique personalities and beauty of each character, without focusing on their ass-ets.

About the author

Kimi

Kimi (aka GoldenLassoGirl) is known for her cosplays, comic book knowledge, and tabletop gaming podcast/stream. Read more about her at http://www.goldenlasso.net/about/

2 Comments

Click here to post a comment

  • I’ve long railed against how ridiculous some female characters look. DC’s handling of Catwoman lately is really over the top.
    However, i found myself looking at these designs and thinking the Legion of Uptight Morality hand gotten thier hands on them. Power Womand looks great, but Wonder Woman, Black Cananary, and my beloved Zatanna look ridiculous. The last two have costumes based on showgirl costumes in the real world- and not too revealing ones by today’s standards.
    Look, comics are fantasies. If we really wanted to see wht real world superheroes would wear, they would all dress like soldiers (plenty of pockets, room to move, and body armor). But we do want a little bit of individuality and creativity. Spiderman, Green Lantern, Batman, Woverine,and Superman, iconic costumes, are essentally in body suits.
    Let’s have some middle ground.

Streaming Schedule & Events