When Will Wonder Woman Be a Fat, Femme Woman of Color? (Ms Magazine)

Why couldn’t Wonder Woman be a woman of color? When it was announced that Gadot would play Wonder Woman, audiences went wild body shaming her for not having large enough breasts. One can only imagine the white supremacy that would have emerged had the announcement said instead that she would be played by a Black woman. On Paradise Island, there are Black warriors in addition to white ones, which is a good start, but other women of color are missing. Also, while the female warriors are strong and ass-kicking, they all have tall, thin body types and they all could be models on a runway. In fact, in a pivotal battle scene, Wonder Woman struts across the battlefield as if on a catwalk. As a result, their physical strength plays second fiddle to their beauty, upholding the notion that in order to access power women must be beautiful in a traditional way. Especially with the body positivity movement gaining steam, the film could have spotlighted female warriors with fat, thick and short body types. While people have said that warriors can’t be fat, some of our best paid male athletes are, particularly linebackers on the football field, and no one doubts their physical strength.

Another problem is that the story’s overt queerness gets sublimated by heteronormativity. Diana comes from a separatist commune of women who have intentionally chosen to live without men. In one of the first scenes between Diana and Steve, she explains that she read 12 volumes of a series on sex that concluded that while men are required for reproduction, when it comes to female pleasure, they’re unnecessary. While a love story develops between them, a requirement in superhero stories, Diana thankfully doesn’t compromise her integrity for him.

The Sham Psychology of Wonder Woman The beauties of the soul and body do not correspond. (American Conservative)

It doesn’t help that Diana is a beautiful woman. The film never shows the realism of what great beauty can inflict on a person: the deathblows to maturity that are attention, flattery, and unearned affection, and the self-complacency and mistrust of others that can follow. Just as she is unaware of her superpowers, Diana is unaware of her womanly powers. She attempts to undress in public, oblivious to the effect it might have on those watching. She doesn’t understand the concept of partner dancing, complaining that it’s “just swaying.” When she tries it for herself she remarks, with the sterility of a doctor, that the bodies of men and women are very close in this kind of dance.

Not that I can say too much. I have myself complained about female cop characters (and some males) looking more like underwear models than police officers. In Batman vs Superman, Gadot doesn’t really fall into that category, though. And while I do wish Hollywood would be less myopic when it comes to standards of beauty, Wonder Woman is Wonder Woman, and the Amazonians are Amazonians, and it’s built in to the concept that I would not choose to die on that particular hill.


Category: Theater

About the Author

Will Truman (trumwill) is a southern transplant in the mountain east with an IT background who bides his time taking care of their daughter while his wife brings home the bacon. You will probably be relieved to know that he does not generally refer to himself in the third-person except when he's writing short bios on his web page.

8 Responses to A Bipartisan Consensus In Favor of a Less Conventionally Attractive Amazonians

  1. Jaybird says:

    When Mass Effect: Andromeda came out and had a handful of issues with its animations, one of the conspiracy theories around the game was that the developers deliberately made the females less than perfectly conventionally attractive in an effort to prove a point about, um, something? I guess?

    In any case, this was portrayed as magnificently stupid in the way that only conspiracy theories could be magnificently stupid. “There’s no *WAY* that *ANY* company would *EVER* do that!”, the counter-argument went. “It’s stupid to think that someone would even *THINK* that that would be a good idea!”

    In any case, someday, someone will make a superhero movie and they will make a big deal about how they’re deliberately not going with “conventionally attractive” leads. That movie will have to have one heck of an awesome bad guy if that movie will want to make more money than the most recent Ghostbusters did.

  2. gregiank says:

    Indeed why aren’t superhero movies more grounded in reality. I wish lord of the rings had paid more attention to the hard work the hobbits would have to put in to harvest, bake and brew all that hearty grub.

  3. Oscar Gordon says:

    Another person who obviously was not familiar with the source material, and DID NOT ACTUALLY WATCH THE EFFING MOVIE!

    First, yes, Amazons are gifted by the gods with beauty and physique, so, like, by design, you won’t have the full range of female body types.

    Second, there were large framed women in the movie. No, they were not linebacker chubby, but they weren’t runway models. And linebackers are not chubby because no one cares, they are chubby because they are meant to be an immovable object. Amazons were meant to be light infantry and cavalry – highly mobile and lightly outfitted (like the majority of Greek troops). Your warriors are not going to select for linebackers when they have to be quick and agile.

    That said, there were women in the background who were not obviously warriors who ran a larger gamut of body types.

    Finally, props to the make-up and post processing effects, because every one of those warriors was scared all over. Like, all sorts of scars everywhere marring their model perfection. Diana was the only one not scarred, because she was either born from clay, or a demigod herself, and she was not permitted to fight, only train.

    But I really tire of these write-ups criticizing an older story for not checking every single damn SJW/Feminist wish list item. Seriously, if those items are important, go write the story with them and get a studio to buy the rights. WW did an amazing job, kicked aside a number of annoying tropes, and proved that not only can a woman direct a superhero blockbuster, but a woman can carry it as well.

  4. mike shupp says:

    Memory says the Amazons were noted for hacking off a breast so it would not be in the way when drawing a bow. I think, if we’re going to insist on absolute realism here ….

  5. James K says:

    OK, the “women of colour” thing is really bugging me. Amazons are Greek, they are the product of Greek Mythology. As such, it is perfectly reasonable for them to all look Greek.

    As someone who is not an American, I can’t help but notice that the “where are the people of colour” question in media tends to boil down to “why does this setting not look like the USA? Everything must look exactly like the USA!”

    While it may be framed as a call for diversity, from my perspective it can come across as a demand for stifling uniformity – the USA’s cultural framework is the one correct frame for the world and any depiction that is insufficiently American must be designated “problematic”.

    • Oscar Gordon says:

      This too. An ancient society of Greek women, locked away from the rest of the world, would not have a full range of ethnicity. They’d have who was common to the ancient Greeks (like people from Africa and parts of the middle east). Chances that there will be anyone from Asia, etc is pretty damn low.

      Context matters.

  6. KenB says:

    This issue will work itself out in a few years, once we’ve all been re-engineered to have the correct beauty standards.

  7. Peter says:

    Some people claim that Gadot actually is a “Person of Color” because she is from Israel. They conveniently ignore the fact that she is of 100% European descent.

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