Maybe it’s just me, but I have noticed a significant uptake in Disney’s (and many other realms, for that matter) efforts to enhance their female presence. In highlighting legacy feminine phenoms (Cinderella, Snow White, etc.) and the introduction of today’s leading ladies (Moana, Wonder Woman, to name a couple… yes, I realize that WW is a part of the DC reunion tour), I am THRILLED to see this effort, and not for the young ladies watching today’s shows; but, for the young men. How wonderful is it for our boys to celebrate and worship super heroine archetypes showing that women can be all and more of what previous generations expected from male icons, only.
But my question is this: How do these women display body images that are appropriate for today’s youth?
What IS appropriate for today’s youth? I appreciate the various “builds”that appear (Moana versus Wonder Woman, for instance) and how ANYONE can be super with determination and grit. But is it enough? I observed a Disney, Jr. commercial showing a laundry list of great heroines… but this all-at-once effort cannot be sustained, can it?
I’d love your thoughts.
Hey, Kate. I’m thrilled to hear from you on this post. You have a much keener sense of social responsibility than I do, so I will often defer to your perspective as it aligns with me yet is stated so eloquently when compared to my stream of consciousness.
I hadn’t thought of the male costume side of the conversation (the Batman reference is a great one); at the time of posting this, the commercial I referenced sparked the thought to write…but you are right – the sexualization works both ways.
With regard to your question on what is appropriate/inappropriate, I guess my effort at a rhetorical question didn’t translate from thought to page. I don’t think anyone has a place to say what makes a body image inappropriate; however, we all can have our opinion on what is offensive while respecting that others may not share the impression. My biggest concern is that someone tries to tell my children what is appropriate, inappropriate, sensational, or bland. I want my kids to figure this out for themselves without social pressures to be “right.” That’s my job as a parent…but it’s a tough one when I fully recognize I was brought up during a generation when Barbie and Brooke Shields were the target of acceptability. I have to work hard to unravel my predisposition to accept what I was trained to think as appropriate so that I can thus properly guide my sons to steer clear of influence that they may make up their own mind.
Has the all at once approach to male superheroes been sustained? The answer, of course, is yes and there is no reason why the same cannot be true of female characters. The fact that you feel that this is a fad rather than a natural progression highlights the larger issue. As for the comment about appropriate body images, I am not quite sure what you are discussing. What makes a body image inappropriate? If you are talking about the costumes which highlight certain areas, we can have the same conversation regarding the male costumes, which draw the eye to certain areas using bright colors or by imposing body parts on the breastplates (i.e. George Clooney’s nipple batman). Moana is a child, so she obviously has a different build than Wonder Woman. The sexualization of the curvy female figure is a societal construct and perpetuates the cycle of woman as sex objects or damsels (the Cinderellas and Snow Whites of the world). You mentioned female archetypes, but according to Jung and other scholars, there are only 3 female archetypes: maiden, powerful seductress, and hag. Modern media is trying to break from these archetypes by giving worth to powerful women as more than a sexual prize for conquering heroes. Let’s applaud that effort without falling into the trap of labeling beautiful women as inappropriate. For whom is it inappropriate?