Do you dance naked?

You should. It’s fun. Why is it fun? I’m not quite sure, but there’s something about getting a good song going and just letting loose.

The PG-13 version. With a peace sign for fun.
The PG-13 version. With a peace sign for fun.

But it’s not really about dancing nekkid. It’s about body acceptance. Because, let me tell you, I have issues with how I look.

Oh let me count the ways.

1. I don’t have a waist.

2. Are you looking at my hips?

3. Broad shoulders. Good for swimming and lifting loads-bad for looking feminine.

4. I really do wish my boobs were bigger.

A few nights ago, Shiri and I had a great conversation about comic book women. Wonder Woman specifically and how she relates to how Shiri wrote her characters in SHAMAN. Her entry is here.

You should go read it.

And go buy the book.

As someone who draws, I have mixed feelings about comic book characters and how they’re drawn. On one hand, depending on the style I want to practice, I draw just like that. Marc Silvestri and Todd McFarlane are my comic book artist heroes. I LIKE how their comics look, I enjoy SPAWN and THE DARKNESS for the art and the story.

Because, I mean, come on...
Because, I mean, come on…

On the other hand, I don’t necessarily appreciate how women are depicted in their world.

Witchblade-comic-books-4030584-1024-768
Because, I mean, come on….

Who looks like that? Besides Pamela Anderson. She doesn’t count. What woman who hasn’t spent hours at the gym and equally many hours at the plastic surgeon’s office, looks like that?

Very few. If any.

The same goes with men. Seriously. People don’t think that men are intimidated by what’s on screen on what’s on the page, but they are. You wouldn’t believe how many cases there are of male anorexia/bulimia/chest implants. As an artist I enjoy the curves of comic book women, they’re smooth and easy to draw. Yes, they are pleasing to the eye, but they’re disproportional so of course they’re going to be attractive. Feminine shoulders, large bust, small waist and hips that are proportionate to the shoulder width. Badda bing, she’s sexy. And she really is. Jackie has a strong, square jaw with broad shoulders, beefy chest, small hips and waist and we’re um…going to assume he’s well endowed. Because it’s a comic book and we’re living in a fantasy world. Again, the characters are fun to draw. It’s fun to stretch proportions and bring to life the object of desire.

But, it’s fake.

F. A. K. E.

And that’s where my line gets a little muddy with the social and psychological implications of comic book characters.

Awesome. That's who she is.
Awesome. That’s who she is.

Wonder Woman is the penultimate of feminism. She, along with a select few others, epitomise what it is to be woman.

Hear us fucking roar.

BUT-depending on who draws her-she can go anywhere from mannish-looking (because Amazons have broad shoulders and small waistlines with smaller busts) to the same as Witchblade up there. Yeah, she’s an Amazon but she can also be sexy because, you know, she’s a chick. Ergo, chick=sexy.

Same with Lara Croft, who is my favourite comic book character. She can go from uber sexy.

The old.
The old.

To someone who resembles reality a little better.

The new. Which I reeeeeeeaaaaally want to play.
The new. Which I reeeeeeeaaaaally want to play.

Depends on who is drawing her.Β  Seriously. Art is subjective.

The thing that all of these women have in common is what they represent.

Lara will always be single. Wonder Woman IS the Amazon Queen. Witchblade has the power to kill. Merida can shoot you in the head at fifty yards, WHILE you’re running, The Magdalena has the power of God behind her, Buffy is a bad ass bitch with a knife, and the Enterprise can’t run without Uhura. To a female audience, Lara, Merida, Witchblade, Buffy, Wonder Woman, The Magdalene, Uhura, ALL of the females that have their own comic book or are in a position of power, represent Feminism and the fact that we-as women-don’t have to take shit from NOBODY.

Now, that being said, I remember there being a controversy when Disney inducted Merida to the Royal Court.

?!
?!

I’ll admit I wasn’t too happy to begin with. On the left is the Merida we know and love, and the right is how one Disney artist translated three dimensions into two. She has a defined waist, large hips, feminine shoulders and a ‘come-hither’ look in her eye which is bothersome for a girl I’m pretty damn sure is fourteen. Maybe. And her curls are less unruly, more set. Anyway, I remember there being a HUGE uproar because of how she looks. Which, I’ll agree with on the basis that she’s a teenager. Give me one teenager that looks that good and I’ll give you the Stepford Wives. I’m pretty sure Disney has a problem with drawing gawky teenage girls and letting them be royalty. Apparently, if you’re not pretty, you can’t be a princess. Which is crap. Then again, there’s a lot wrong with Disney which we’ll tackle in another post. For now, we can look at Merida like Wonder Woman.

It depends on who draws her.

Seriously.

No matter what she looks like, 3D or 2D, Merida still represents the same thing she’s always represented (and I’m pretty sure if Disney Marketing were more lenient with its artists there would be a gawky Merida using the sexy Merida as target practice) wild spirit, adventure, tom boy, freedom of choice, and the power of woman. No one can take that away from her by putting her into a dress and setting her hair into tighter curls. The people that do, are the people that are insecure in themselves and already subscribe to the idea that pretty = valuable to society.

I don’t plan on ever becoming a parent. If my sister does, and if she has girls, I’m not going to take the Disney Princesses away from them because they’re stereotypical representation of women. At their heart, they’re stories. I think that’s all Disney wanted them to be, stories. Granted, if Disney were more true to Grimm’s Tales, those stories would have been a lot more interesting and have better morals than “the pretty girl ALWAYS gets the boy if she waits long enough for him”.

Morality with a side of blood.
Morality with a side of blood.

I’ll let them watch, but I’ll also stick a Wonder Woman or Tomb Raider comic in their hands and tell them that they can be whomever they want to be when they grow up. And that art is art, fantasy is not reality, and that escapism is not a bad thing.

Comic books are sex personified. Are they degrading to both men AND women? They can be if you look at them like that. But, ask yourself, do you really read a Captain America comic because of how he looks in spandex, or do you read him because he kicks serious Nazi ass?

When you look at yourself in the mirror, do define yourself by how you look? If you’re fat does that make you a terrible person or do you laugh like no one else? If you’re athletic and you work out every single day are you stingy and health conscious or can you make Black Forest Cake like you should be on Top Chef? Does being chubby stop you from building your kid the T.A.R.D.I.S. in your backyard and then acting like a DALEK because little Johnny wants to be the Doctor for a day?

Do you listen to YOU or do you listen to society?

Because when you’re dancing naked, you’re not seeing what society sees, you’re seeing you. ALL of you. Curves, skinny, chubby, athletic or doughy, there is nothing wrong with you. There’s something wrong with society that tells you there’s something wrong with you.

Toodles!

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8 thoughts on “Do you dance naked?

  1. Yvonne Hertzberger says:

    I think you look great, not too heavy, nice curves and great face. You’re real, not some plastic icon that’s completely out of reach. I struggle with self-image, too. I think almost all women do.But that’s because those impossible plastic ideals are what we are told is essential to be attractive and sexy. Funny thing is, lots of guys prefer a little extra on their women. They don’t want stick figures. And what’s wrong with strong? Strong IS sexy.

    1. rjkeith says:

      Thanks, Yvonne! It took me a long time to accept myself for how I look. A loooooooong time, and I still struggle with image issues because of what media tells us ‘is’ sexy. Except that it’s not. I’ve messed with Photoshop, I know their secrets.
      I’ll never forget a Facebook meme that had Kaley Couco in a corset top and another girl in an actual corset. The meme’s heading was CORSET: HOW NOT TO WEAR ONE, which confused me because the girl with the corset actually had a corset on properly, Kaley Cuoco had a corset top which did nothing that a corset was supposed to do. I thought to myself “are you kidding me? How does this make any sense?”. Then it hit me, if it has gotten so bad that unknown internet image makers are telling women ‘if you’re not skinny and wearing a corset top, you’re obviously doing it wrong’ there is something seriously messed up with society. And it isn’t the debate on corsets v. corset tops. Women shouldn’t be held to an ideal. Bodies change, personalities last forever.

  2. Bubbe says:

    Just trying to get caught up. This is stupendous RJ! I love your message here. I liked Yvonne’s comment about some men preferring non-stick figures. Hubs is that kind of man. He wants something to hold onto and he’s definitely got that with me. I agree too that we should listen to US not THEM. Well, except you can listen to me … you look great! I WISH I had your shoulders! But I’m okay with myself as is. I’d like to be more flexible and am working on that but overall, I’m good.

  3. Bruce says:

    I found your blog through pure random luck. You look nice, attractive and sexy to me. You have curves which are nice, and your shape is unique to you. And that’s a good thing. I wish women didn’t feel the need to expend so much effort trying to be something other than what they are — and which is not real or lasting.

    1. rjkeith says:

      Thank you so much!

      You’re very sweet, and I wholeheartedly thank you for taking the time to comment on my little slice of madness.

      Women have a contentious relationship with our bodies that doesn’t need to happen. It’s a learning process, but I’m slowly giving into loving my reflection.

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