When I close my eyes and think of words that come to mind to describe Wonder Woman: “strong” is certainly one of them. As one of my favorite comic book characters since I can remember, Diana Prince, Wonder Woman did not shy away from being strong and performing great feats using her physical strength. (Never Forget: Wonder Woman Suplex!) Sure she valued wisdom and placed other character traits as important but I always loved how she was able to be a part of the action, to be on the front lines and simply kick ass.
I can think back to many instances from my childhood to the dreaded days puberty to now of the female body is presented in advertisements and how the female body is policed (Also see how there’s still too many men in Congress who want to keep tightly regulating it and its functions — Hello reproductive care!) I think of how the female body is routinely used as a gag, used for jokes…we, as a society still have much work to do because girls and women are still shamed for their bodies.
Even Serena Williams, perhaps the great tennis player ever and most certainly one of the greatest athletes of all time has struggled with her own body image: partly because of how the media has portrayed her during her long career. In her latest interview with Vogue Magazine she elaborates on why she wasn’t comfortable with her naturally muscular physique — Can you image that the world may not have had the opportunity to witness such an phenomenal force of nature in the sports world because we may have almost shamed an athlete out of performing because of her body? Thankfully, Williams wants to be an influence to girls that look like her and her self love and her celebration of her own body is a testament to itself.
What do we teach girls about their bodies if we keep praising a certain type of body type?
To take it further: what do we teach girls about their bodies, their self worth and their self-esteem if we only praise a certain type of body, a certain type of skin color, a certain type of hair type, a certain level of able-bodyness?
What women have we shamed out great places and from great opportunities because they did not the idealized image of beauty or appearance?
It’s comic books we are talking about and most artists are men — I don’t have to tell you about how even teenage girls are hypersexualized because this week has brought it. I love this particular cover to this WW comic because it presents a muscular, beautiful Diana standing tall. She is however an image on a poster upon a wall. But that doesn’t stop two little girls: one imitating her and the other one pointing but both with grins on their faces from engaging in what they see Wonder Woman doing.
This is the Wonder Woman who inspires girls everywhere: You too, can be strong. You too, can be achieve it. You too can be your own version of strength. Your body is a tool, your tool. Your body is a vehicle, yours to get you to where you want to go. Your body is yours. You own it and you alone. Your body may be different and there’s nothing wrong with it. Own it.
Think back on that comic book cover above — is the male gaze even present? Who is interacting with the WW poster? Girls. Who is projecting themselves and enjoying themselves? Girls. Who is the focus outside of Diana? Girls.
Representation matters, y’all.
Positive Body image certainly matters.
Seeing womenfolk at ease and comfortable in their own bodies matters.
Wonder Woman Matters.
This is a woman who inspires me to to take agency of my own body and use it to be great. This is my hero. This is my Wonder Woman.