The last year’s seen a lot of efforts to interrogate the way superheroines’ bodies are posed and presented, whether it’s artists drawing male superheroes in the same skin-revealing costumes and poses as Wonder Woman or Jim C. Hines’ series of pictures where he posed like heroines on the cover of urban fantasy novels. Now, Ultraculture, as an illustration of its Captain America: The First Avenger review, has taken to Photoshop to show us what it would look like if a superhero’s comic physique could actually be expressed by a live human being. The results are…unsettling:
If depictions of superheroines reduce them to their breasts, buttocks and vaginas, this kind of illustration turns a human being into a vast, undifferentiated cut of meat. The effects are different, of course. Our positive association with musculature means we can still praise the person who acquired it, which is how we ended up with Arnold Schwarzenegger as a major cultural and political figure, rather than reducing him to parts of his wildly-enhanced body, while a tight focus on accentuated female body parts tends to minimize the humanity of the woman they belong to. But this kind of distortion is still unsettling, whether the person it’s done to is male or female. An overemphasis on traits society have decided are positive and admirable can be limiting and overwhelming, too.