Friday, September 22, 2006

Amateur Art Appreciation Addendum

(Oh, my art feature is up. Take a look, then come back for some quick thoughts.)

How many artists are using teenager logic to show that their characters are mature thinking women?

Most of us will know the obvious answer to that question. Most artists seem to design costumes by the "less is more" style of fashion, where being able to show off skin indicates an autonomous thinking being (the logic being that with no one watching your clothing choices, you obviously don't live with your parents) to them. But I realized it was worse than that when answering this comment:
It was almost like the more she grew up, the more she [b]matured[/b], Arisia wanted to show more of herself rather than hide behind restrictions.

So, I answered him as I would a teenaged girl who thought that:
Except that's not a sign of Maturity, Zeb. That's something teenaged girls do to make themselves seem older. They wear less to make themselves look older. The artists have been doing this, drawing her with less to make her look older, using a young girl's logic, without adding any mature woman logic to balance out the costume.

Look, I'm not saying that a mature woman wouldn't dress revealingly. But a mature woman would dress appropriately for the work she does. That's a miniskirt she's wearing to fight evil.

And a mature woman would dress to emphasize certain personal characteristics, but not to the detriment of the rest of her body. That costume emphasizes the breasts, and makes the rest of her body into an afterthought. The combination of light-colored, front-loaded top and dark, short, tight miniskirt imply that she is not comfortable with her shape, particularly her hips and breast size. Again, teenaged girl characteristics. These are tricks to compensate for a small bust and large hips. I know these tricks because we tried them in High School (though, within the dress code standards). There was another set for girls who felt they were top-heavy, broad-shouldered with skinny hips. A whole list of ways to make your waist smaller. Teenaged girl tricks.

This is not a grown-up costume. This is something a teenager thinks is a grown-up costume. Honestly, if they were going by your train of thought, a bikini would have been a more suitable choice (though still eye-rollingly exploitive). Freedom of movement and complete comfort with body image.

Then it occured to me that comic book artists may be more like teenaged girls than teenaged boys sometimes, because Arisia's not the only superhero dressing up to YM Fashion tricks (only she's using three tricks where one would suffice).

And seriously, while I would've rolled my eyes at the excessive skin for a bikini, I wouldn't have put her costume on the complaint pile -- probably for the same reasons Starfire's costume never bothered me and the Amanda Connor Boob Window is my favorite Power Girl costume. Weird how less material can make more sense, when it's put in the proper places.


  1. Aren't most costumes based on what teenagers think is cool? I know Firestorm's is.

  2. Not sure where this fits into the argument, but didn't Englehart and Staton (don't know the division of labor) have the GLC-Earth redesign their costumes so they'd be more to their own tastes?

    If Arisia's white outfit reflects teenage-girl logic, doesn't that argue against Englehart's notion that her "mind matured?" I suppose it all depends on whether fashion sense matures along with everything else....

  3. Would you kill me if I said (without knowing anything about Arisia whatsoever except for what's in the column) that I thought her outfit was cute. At least the colors are... if they wanted to have made this look more "2000", they should've made it into a tube top.

  4. One thing that I've always liked about Arisia was that her GL uniform was completely different than all the others in the corps, especially at the time when every member wore the same costume. (Well, except for Guy and John, but they had to have uniforms that differed from Hal.) I like that she choose white to counter the standard black of the rest of the GLs.

    As for the new version of a past uniform, I thought that it was silly. I hadn't seen her since she briefly appeared, I think, in the last GL series and I had hoped that in that time she had grown up some. I guess the Warrior costume and the new one shows she didn't.

    And neither did the people doing the redesign.

    Here's to those out there who actually like to see growth in characters.

  5. Chris -- But Firestorm's costume is cool. The Dude's head is on Fire! This costume is a fashion nightmare.

    Tom -- I acutally liked the white costume. It suited her and was cute. But yes, there was a certain girlishness to it. I suspect that may have contributed to her being yanked back to immaturity by later writers.

    Don't get me wrong here, I'm not saying that mature women never use these fashion tips, but an older woman will use this to a subtle effect. She won't overdo it. This is overcompensation. Like I said on the other blog, this new version is a bit much.

    Look back at the original costume. The skirt wasn't a tight miniskirt, it flared out. The costume had a back. She was emphasizing her bust and de-emphasizing her hips, but nowhere close to the extent that this costume does.

    The new costume is, effectively, a parody of the first white costume.

    ticknart -- I thought the Warrior costume showed some growth, actually. *Shrug*

    Sandi -- YES! You must ALWAYS agree with ME or DIE! [/sarcasm]

    It's not all on the coloring. Please don't misunderstand me when I point out the coloring as an indicator. I don't mean that's all I see that gives me this impression.

    It's the front-loading.

    By front-loading, I mean all of the material is in front, and its shaped to draw attention to her breasts and make them seem larger. It's the cut here.

    A tube top, which, while it would have the bare midriff that so many fans despise right now, would have been more even and flattering. There would be a back.

    Personally, I would prefer a mixture of the white costume and the Warrior costume. Green pants and a white halter-top with the diamond cleavage cut.

    I'd have been happy with little shorts and a halter top.

    Or even, what I first thought it was at the end of GL#12. (Well, first I thought it was a 14-year-old girl's costume worn by a 28-year-old, and so it was unzipped and outgrown, but then I had a thought that it might be a serious costume redesign) Because in the splash page at the end we couldn't see the back and much of the sides of the costume were obscured by that gunk that she was trapped in. I thought the costume would continue around and have a square cut around her torso. The cleavage V-Cut with a full back would have given the impression of an Arum Lily. It's a art deco sort of flower, a bit too modernish for my tastes, but still very lovely.

    It was the backless part that got me. She had a top that consists of two triangles. Very unflattering. It does nothing, except draw attention to her breasts.

    It was a shock. I'm mentally prepared to see "Functional" passed over for "Sexy", but I wasn't expecting "Pretty" to be pushed aside too. Totally blindsided me.

  6. And there I agree with you. (Though by tube top, I guess I really ment it would be a strapless dress, with a back and all that jazz). Yeah, it's a ridiculous costume, but functionality (or even the fashion tricks that middle school girls try) was obviously not the first thing on the costume designer(s)'s mind(s)... Arg. That poor woman: how does she not fall out of it?

  7. Yeah, all things considered, I preferred the white costume, although I'm not a big fan of white as the predominant color of a GL uniform. I also see your point about the fashion tips being used by women of different ages in different ways. I watch "What Not To Wear" occasionally, but clearly it's not sinking in....

  8. That poor woman: how does she not fall out of it?


    Seriously, though, I liked the outgrown uniform theory. A shame they went with the Jennifer Lopez gown idea, instead.

  9. I thought the guy meant "matured" as in "physically matured," not "mentally matured." Like, "I have assets now and I want you to notice them?"

    re: firestorm-- puffy sleeves are a no-no, and I say this while believing that the current run on FS is one of the best DC books out right now.

  10. Firestorm has the best superhero costume ever.

    Alan Scott wears puffy sleeves. At least when they draw him RIGHT.

  11. She had a top that consists of two triangles. Very unflattering. It does nothing, except draw attention to her breasts.

    Looks more like a V to me... which means that it does do more than draw attention to her breasts. It's also an arrow pointing down toward more girl-parts.

    Yeah, that doesn't make it better at all, does it?

  12. Most of the other female Lanterns wear outfits that are attractive and fairly practical, I don't see why Arisia can't have something better. Put her in the black tights for heaven's sake, and get her out of that ridiculous skirt. You could have something that is off the shoulder, but still with sleeves that would be attractive and different. At least then she could ditch the double-sided tape.

  13. I know it's sort of a plague-vs-cholera type choice, but IMHO a miniskirt is vastly less skeevy than what someone on Project Rooftop once called "crotch-floss", which seems to be a common option for "sexy" female characters.

  14. Have you tried posting this on Geoff Johns message board? He dosen't reply much, but I suspect he lurks...

  15. By front-loading, I mean all of the material is in front, and its shaped to draw attention to her breasts and make them seem larger. It's the cut here.

    I still fail to see any problem with this whatsoever.

    Also, I'm glad that most of us can come together and agree that Firestorm's costume is the single greatest suit ever. If you don't like poofy sleeves, you hate life.

  16. Chris -- You must come bra shopping with me next time. After about 3 hours of trying them on, you won't be so enamoured of boobs.

  17. Chris -- You must come bra shopping with me next time.

    Are you... Are you hitting on me?

  18. Oh, I won't look!

    You'd spend most of your time with the saleslady. But I think it would cure you.

  19. Also, I'm glad that most of us can come together and agree that Firestorm's costume is the single greatest suit ever. If you don't like poofy sleeves, you hate life.

    I have the Anti-Life Equation tattooed on my back. Soon, you will all come to see life (and puffy sleeves) as I do!

  20. You'd spend most of your time with the saleslady.

    I had no idea you were into that.

  21. I had no idea you were into that.

    Oh, this would definitely cure you.