Saturday, March 3, 2012

The 5 Most Impractical Aspects of Superhero Costumes

            I came across an article today that outlined a central issue we discussed in class about the gendered degradation of super heroines in what they wear. In the article, titled The Five Most Impractical Aspects of Super Hero Costume, professional cosplay (short for costume display) model Ruby Rocket talks about the practicality of the costumes that the men, but mostly women, wear while fighting crime. As a cosplay model, Rocket is all too familiar with the practicality of the costumes because she not only has to wear them, but she also has to make them by hand. She therefore has a first hand account of the accessibility and mobility of these costumes.
            Ranked at number 5 is “You Don’t Want Your Costume to be Too Cool”. What she means by this is that super hero outfits are often times complex and highly designed. While using her sewing machine to remake these costumes, Rocket realized how tedious and time consuming making cool costumes are. She therefore conclude that the only real practical crime fighter would be called “Thrift Store Man” because of the time and money needed to make such a cool costume. Whenever the subject of making super hero costumes comes up, I immediately think of Edna Mode from the Disney film The Incredibles, but I’m assuming that not all super heroes have a mod costume designer to run to every time they get a tear in their costume.
            Number 4 discusses the practicality of high heels when fighting crime. Truth is, there really is no practicality about it. Girls can barely walk in them, let alone run, jump, and do high spinning kicks in them. The only purpose heels serve is to follow the societal norm of what an attractive female wears.
            Number 3 talks about the material of the costume, a subject that Rocket is especially familiar with. The few times when super heroines aren’t actually wearing nothing, they are sporting skin tight leather, latex, or spandex. But in actuality, leather or latex would be poor choices for costumes. They are stiff and hard to breathe in. Again, this only serves to build on the sexy image of super heroines. The male gaze would definitely drift towards a skin tight leather costume than a loose fitting but completely practical track suit.
            Next, the article discusses how super heroine costumes are so revealing and skin tight that they literally have nowhere to store weapons in it. Super heroes often times have utility belts, but super heroines can hold only one weapon. Instead, their greatest weapon seems to be their sex appeal and their ability to distract their male opponents.
            The last issue they brought up I could not have said better myself – “Keeping Your Identity Secret Is Probably More Important Than Letting The World Know You’re Hot”. Super heroes, such as Batman and Spiderman, are always seen as the masked vigilantes and value their secret identity more than anything. Super heroines, on the other hand, are rarely ever seen wearing a mask. Wonder Woman merely changes her outfit and tousles her hair a bit and expects no one to realize her true identity. It’s just silly. The only goal the artists had in mind was to accentuate the beauty and sex appeal of the super heroines.
            So take a look at the article. What do you think is the most impractical aspect of super heroines’ costumes? What does that say about the male gaze and the importance the artists put on making the heroine look good?



  1. I would say the most impractical aspect is definitely the high heels. I know that models and many celebs say that a woman should always wear high heels, but really? How is one supposed to run through the forest, or the streets in heels? Unless they have some super power that eliminates blisters and cramped feet, then heels are obviously the worst shoe choice. Hiking boots or running shoes could still potentially be sexy depending on how they are made and what they are worn with. I do give props to any actors that do stunts in heels because in my book that's a huge feat. To me, the fact that so many superheroines wear heels definitely says something about the male gaze and how they would rather a woman look good than be able to walk after they get done kicking ass. Heels are meant to accentuate a woman's legs and butt, and that's really all they're good for.

  2. I totally agree. Heels are ridiculous. I went to a "gentleman's club" this weekend for the first (and possibly last) time in my life, and EVERY dancer had on 6-8 inch heels. While my group was ogling, all I could think was, "is that really practical..?"

    Although, to be devil's advocate here, some of these aforementioned impractical aspects COULD be useful.

    Heels could, for example, house knives. If you've taken physics, you'll know about force & area & pressure; heels might not be a bad idea. Also, heels add to the sexiness of a superheroine, which can be an invaluable trait, as shown by Charlie's Angels.

    I agree that cool costumes don't make much sense, since they only get trashed every other issue, but making them carefully out of special fabrics could make it tougher and safer. For example, the Fantastic Four's costumes are designed to go with the flow of each member's powers, as are The Incredibles'.

    Personally, I think spandex is a GREAT idea! Maybe it's just for sex appeal, but its also very comfortable, flexible, and appropriately warm/cool.

    Spiderman has demonstrated how a villain's knowledge of your identity can be a bad thing. Green Goblin torments MJ and this takes a huge toll on poor Peter. Superheroines should want to cover themselves as much as possible. Heaven forbid a passersby recognizes a telltale birth mark on their body.

    That being said, sex appeal is no doubt useful. Superheroines may be a little bit misguided, but their ideas aren't all bad.

  3. Also, I feel the need to point out that Promethea's outfit is pure gold, one of the softest and most expensive metals around. True, she's the imagination and can do whatever she wants, but this costume choice is, in any other situation, a poor one.

  4. Though heels can be impractical in some situations (namely if there is ever mud), I disagree that a woman is incapable of acting badass in heels. It's all about conditioning your feet. I can run in heels, and every show choir dance number that I did in high school was in heels. As someone pointed out, stuntwomen prove it's possible, and who knows a smart superherione probably puts in Dr. Schols or something to ensure they're comfortable.If I was a superheroine, there is no way I wouldn't wear heels.

    Another point was brought up in that tight costumes = male gaze. Though, I can definitely see where that applies (someone's earlier post about sexiest superheroine costumes), I don't agree that only females wear spandex. Personally, I enjoy being able to see the outline of every arm and chest muscle on a man. Also, Batman's chest plate is armor, yet the look is still that of six-pack abs. I'm just trying to point out that emphasizing the perfection of the body is not limited to only female characters.

    Final point about disguises: Superman is Clark Kent without glasses. The lack of a mask is more so that readers can feel an attachment to characters and also not limited to females.

  5. The most impractical parts of a superheroine's costume has definitely have got to be the high heels. I have a hard time seeing women do normal things comfortably with high heels on, let alone fight crime efficiently. The impractically of high heels only highlights the main issue. Superheroines wearing high heels only serves as a mirror to our thoughts and expectations, however absurd they may be. Women are supposed to show more than guys are in reality, so it's only expected that superheroines distinguish themselves from their male counterparts by appearance. I wouldn't even say that the outfits are all that impractical. There superheroines, so they aren't really bound by limitations due to their clothing.

  6. Sound like good and useful information.Thanks for this great sharing.


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