In an older post from the beginning of the semester, one blogger referenced this article about Star Fire's new appearance in the new 52 series: http://www.comicsalliance.com/2011/09/22/starfire-catwoman-sex-superheroine. Today, I found an unconventional response to the same series written by a mother and her seven year old, comic-obsessed daughter. What I found most interesting about this, however, wasn't the age or dynamic between the authors, but their argument for why they both strongly disliked the new Starfire.
The seven-year-old claimed her favorite superhero was Starfire because "She's like me...[even though] she doesn't always say the right thing, or know the right thing to do...but she's a good friend, and she helps people. She's strong enough to fight the bad guys, even when they hurt her...And she helps the other heroes..." Like many of us, this girl favorite chose a hero with which she could identify and, most importantly, one that embodied her ideals.
When shown Starfire in a pretty revealing costume rom a Teen Titans comic book released in 2008 and asked what she thought about it, she responds, "well, she's a grown up...so if you're a grown up and you want to wear something like that you can. It's okay." I found this response interesting because there was no criticism of her outfit, but then I also questioned to what degree would one critique one's own hero? She also talks about how Starfire is helping kids learn to use their powers and about her protective nature. It's most important to note that she only talks of Starfire's actions, making absolutely no reference to the outfit unless directly asked about it.
The Starfire in the Teen Titans comic book:
When asked about Starfire in the new 52, we see a very interesting response. She briefly comments on the revealing nature of the swimsuit, but more importantly she says, "but, she's not relaxing or swimming. She's just posing a lot...she's not fighting anyone. And not talking to anyone really. She's just almost naked and posing." Again, she doesn't linger on the costume, instead focusing on her actions. When asked if she considers this Starfire a good hero, she says no. Why? Not because of her oversexualized outfit, but because she's not doing anything.
The Starfire in the New 52 Series:
While we can criticize creators for degrading female characters by putting such heroes in skimpy outfits, this is not the real problem. It's not all about what the characters are wearing, but rather about who they are, the choices they make, and the things they do throughout the comic that really make the character. This seven-year old looked past the outfits and judged Starfire based on her actions, and we should to. Clothes are just superfluous and if creators really want to make a change in the comic industry, they should start with giving female characters a more meaningful role. They must give the women a purpose in the plot, a series of relevant actions...even if they're shown as naked while doing it.