Monday, August 17, 2015

Everyone Loves a Skinny, Female Stock Character

Today, I have Miri Castor here to talk about trends in female characters. Thanks for being here today Miri.


Marvel movies are a blast to watch. If you’ve seen the more recent ones like The Avengers: Age of Ultron, or Antman, then you know exactly what I’m talking about. The action (more like the CGI), the corny one-liners, and the secret endings make them an enjoyable experience. Then there’s the one badass woman who likes kicking and doing acrobatic takedowns on the evil henchmen, and the one genius woman who’s a scientist and uses her brains to aid the superhero. In a world where women are objectified, glamorized, and glorified for their appearances, girls admire these token heroines because that’s all we got. I know I did when I was in my teens and my nerdiness was at its pinnacle. As I got older though, I began to notice a glaring pattern in the heroines I had admired-they were always skinny.
                I was beginning to wonder, “How come none of these heroines are ever fat? Not even a bit chunky?” People would tell me like it was a fact, “Fat women are unhealthy and can’t move around as much, duh.”  We instinctively correlate healthiness and fitness with skinny women, unhealthiness and laziness with fat women. But it’s wrong-being fat has to do with many factors other than food and a lack of exercise.  Associating thick thighs and chubby bellies with junk food and laziness is-well, lazy. Similar to the extreme end of skinniness, being morbidly fat comes with a slew of health problems. But you’re telling me Marvel can’t feature a woman with plump thighs as a love interest? A biophysicist? A sidekick? All of the above?
                Now you’ve probably assumed that my upcoming novel is full of fat female characters doing unrealistic backflips and jump kicks. You’re wrong-I have one. Adaeze, one of the denizens of the alternate world my protagonist Opal has to save, has got thick thighs and isn’t stick skinny. She’s got the brains and the brawn-if scifi/fantasy authors can create female alien races with two tails, one eye, blue skin, and four arms-and always making them slim if they’re love interests-I’m sure they can create a thick-boned alien girl. It’s 2015, we can have fat women in combat that doesn’t involve crashing into cars or rolling around on the ground for laughs. We can have fat women who create superweapons in their sleep, and have different kinds of fat women as our token heroines (until equality becomes a part of society, which I think will take a while). We can have heroines with thick thighs that save lives.
I think it’s high time we stop over-representing one type of female stock character, especially in the sci-fi genre. Apparently, every female alien, superhuman, and sidekick love interest exists as a size two.  At this point, you’re definitely rolling your eyes and saying, “Look at this bitter, fat girl who’s trying to write a novel about fat women fighting and being smart.” You are again, terribly wrong! I’m a skinny, twenty-one year old who’s grown bored of seeing the same type of women in my favorite books, my movies, and in the media.


Miri's book "The Path to Dawn" is soon to be released. You can find out more about Miri here...


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

She certainly doesn't have to be a stick figure. She needs a shape. Curves are sexier than bone, that's for sure.

Misha Gericke said...

I agree. Movies especially make women so homogenous that it's hard to tell them apart from them. I mean, if you think about it, all Disney females follow the same basic shape too.

And then they give them the same characterization treatment and... yeah, I'm getting rather frustrated with all this.

Pat Dilloway said...

Hollywood is notoriously shallow.

Michael Offutt, Phantom Reader said...

I sometimes wonder if body image was invented by men who created standards for both sexes and force everyone to conform or face possible societal shunning.

Eric Shultis said...

Seems like few of the male heroes are built outside of the fit sterotype either. Except when the middle-aged Mr. Incredible started to let himself go.