This has been on my mind for a while. Comics are full of examples of female characters being sexualized to some degree throughout the history of the medium. The 90s in particular had a bunch of female characters in ridiculous outfits in order to showcase sex appeal. Luckily, that isn’t as big an issue as it used to be. But there is one character that is arguably better known for her looks and outfit as opposed to her utilization in stories - Power Girl.
Let me be clear, I’m a fan of her as a character. Big fan of the JSA stories of the 2000s and have checked her out in several other titles. But let’s be real - people know her because of her boob hole above all else. In case your unfamiliar, the character’s original artist kept increasing her chest size until the editors at the time took notice in what he was doing. Since then, there have been various real world and in-universe reasons for her outfit. Some are on the complex side, one time Kara stating that she had planned to cover the hole with a symbol but never did and it represents an emptiness in her life. Others are more simple, one time she stated it shows that she is a woman and if men want to degrade her because of it, that’s their choice. Right now the current reason is to avoid “boob sweat”.
Again, speaking for myself, I do like her outfit. It’s unique and the overall layout and presentation is associated only with her. But I’m open to redesigns. Right now, they added pants to her and they work well. I guess the reason this has been itching in my mind is I can see arguments both for and against her outfit and boob hole and neither side is completely wrong or right.
What are your thoughts? Do you like Power Girl’s outfit or do you think it should change?
This has been around since 41, and it is not going away. The 90s had more focus on showing skin. Today puts more emphasis on freakishly tight clothes even with costumes like this that highlight breasts and are designed to look like bras.
-Not saying men don’t get the same kind of treatment from time to time. But the way entertainment in general focuses far more on female characters in this context can’t be compared to how much we love Nightwing’s butt.
-The reason I pointed out the 90s in particular was just that it was an era of excess in general. It was an easy era to use as an example. But you are right in pointing out there are many ways characters are sexualized.
-You are generally right about other characters being more sexualized than Power Girl. But just because her creators/writers admit what they are doing with her that doesn’t mean they aren’t doing it. And you could argue that Black Canary can also be associated as a biker chick or a blonde in leather, which isn’t quite the same kind or extreme of sexualization.
-Based on what I could find that story seemed true, but I’m not surprised if that’s more myth. I only have so much time to look into stuff, apologies.
-She has a backup story in Action Comics where she has pants and a red leather jacket. New look is pretty dope if you ask me.
I’ve actually been seeing this topic of female characters being “too sexualized” quite often lately. The latest complaint being for a Catwoman, is a variant cover that emphasizes her backside. Lots of complaints on that cover right now, but all you can see is a side profile of Catwoman leaning up against the wall looking down at cats. That’s it! And people are having an issue with that when there have been far more sexualized covers.
What I say is, if the sexualization of a female character is being used as the main emphasis of that character, then I’d understand why people would be upset and women being offended. Sexualization of a female can’t be the only trait or quality they have. With the case of Power Girl, Catwoman, or Black Canary, and any other characters that have this sexiness to them, but still have plenty of development and qualities to them; I really don’t see the issue. Their feminine features are not being used as the main tool to draw audiences in, but it’s only a part of it. Their character and who they are is what makes us fans love them. This is a problem that I’m seeing today, that people think women can’t really look like a woman anymore, and that they need to tone down their feminine features because they feel that if any of those features or shown or a bit emphasized, it’s ‘oversexualization’ or ‘inappropriate’.
I never hear women complain about Nightwing’s butt. Does that mean us males should be going out and saying “You’re sexualizing men. How dare you”. It’s stupid to complain about that right? If us guys had an a** like Nightwing’s, we’d be feeling pretty proud our ourselves. There’s nothing wrong with women having shape or curves to them.
You do bring up good points. And I am ultimately a fan of Power Girl’s outfit. But that doesn’t overshadow what I like her as a character, so I don’t really have a problem with it. I guess this was mostly a curiosity thing because I’m willing to bet there are people who only recognize this specific character as the one with the boob hole. PG is still light years above any female character from someone like Rob Liefeld
Oh, I don’t doubt that, I’m talking about those people who only look at the surface and immediately call for a change in that area, without further analyzation. The design choice for Black Canary, Zatanna, WW, PG, and other’s never bothered or changed the way I look at them.
When they make it a plot point it can be bad. When they go completely overboard it can be bad. That applies to a lot of superhero fashion though (looking at you Kelly Jones III! I’m kidding, I love your work. ) I don’t see the design choice as inherently flawed. Once saw someone take a picture of Power Girl and put it next to Wonder Woman and they pointed out that WW actually is showing more, there just isn’t a window emphasizing it.
Personally, I don’t mind characters being sexy. There’s some characters that are sexualized, there are some characters that are more covered up. There’s something for everyone.
If I remember correctly, I think at one point they tried to change her costume where they covered the boob window up, and it just didn’t feel right, like when you alter a detail that is actually very significant to that character’s appearance. At this point it’s not just iconic, it’s a detail that makes her her, in my opinion at least.
I feel it’s a lot to do with how the tone is. If it’s not treated as hyper sexualized throughout the story it can work just fine. It’s like if you live in a beach town and everybody wears swim suits all the time, just not as big a deal.