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The Female Perspective: Superhero’s Drawn “Realistic” For a Good Reason

Welcome! This blog is written by author J.L. Metcalf and will chat about comics, movies, garden gnomes, ghosts or even books and daily life. It is a place where I offer my ladylike perspective on anything and everything my brain can think of. 


I came across a Huffpost Women article the other day. It was about a website called Bulima.com that decided to re-draw some famous superhero’s with realistic body types. Interesting idea, I was intrigued.

Bulimia.com is dedicated to helping those that suffer from body image disorder get better. Their Mission Statement:

Welcome to Bulimia.com, a resource dedicated to providing information and treatment options to men and women suffering from anorexia, bulimia, and other types of eating disorders.

What was their purpose in re-drawing the iconic figures?

“We didn’t intend this project to be a commentary on whether or not comic books send the wrong message about body image,” a representative with Bulimia.com told The Huffington Post in an email Tuesday. “Rather, our hope here is to show the extent to which superheroes’ body types (as is the case with their super-human abilities) are fictional. Our hope is that when viewers see these superheroes visualized in such a manner that they can identify with, they may feel better about themselves and realize the futility of any comparison between themselves and the fictional universes of Marvel and DC Comics.”

Makes total sense to me. I studied some of the pictures, you can check them all out here. What I saw was nothing that amazing. They very subtly made the women’s torso’s bigger, enlarged their waistlines and got rid of any visible collar bones or other details that would make them look thin. It was a simple and decent effort to help people who suffer from eating disorders to realize that pop culture is not where you should be going to find the people you want to imitate.

Does a few extra pounds make her look more realistic?
Does a few extra pounds make her look more realistic?

I thought it was a fun way to convey a really important message. Not to mention, Bulima.com very smartly included male superhero’s in their campaign because men also suffer from body disorders and they deserve to be seen and helped as much as women.

What astonished me (once again) were the comments. People were really bashing the project.

Utter nonsense. Why is it every time a do-gooder makes-over a fantasy female icon as a “real woman” she gets larger thighs and smaller breasts. Newsflash, some real women have large breasts, some don’t have large thighs. There is no ONE real woman body, sorry.

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Super Heroes are supposed to be SUPERIOR… AVERAGE people with average bodies look ridiculous in spandex…

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This is by far, the funniest thing I’ve seen all week.
So, overweight heroes are supposed to make people feel better about themselves?

Hmmmmm…

What I gathered from the comments is that people missed the point. Or, maybe they understood the point and decided it was dumb. While I wasn’t overly impressed with the effort, I understood why they did it. To me the changes were subtle and sent the message that superhero’s do not have to be perfect and more importantly that people shouldn’t be trying to emulate their physiques. While I can see why people would think it was dumb, it saddens me a bit that they so clearly missed the message that Bulima was trying to convey.

I also thought that they could have Googled “cosplay” and they would have seen a huge range of body types to choose from. I think “real world” examples would have almost suited this project better. It would have made the message much clearer about accepting who you are, no matter what you look like.

Maybe I'm weird but I kind of dig the ab-less Iron Man...
Maybe I’m weird but I kind of dig the ab-less Iron Man…

I personally think this was an attempt by Bulima.com to get some attention and to try to be part of the cultural discussion on superhero’s and self-confidence. And when I say that, I don’t say it in a  snarky way. I think they very smartly created a campaign that will get them some attention which for a site like this, can only be a good thing. I think they succeeded above their expectations to get any kind of press on the matter. If that press makes even one person aware of their site and the site then helps them, than I’d say mission accomplished. I say well done.

What do YOU think? Does this project make sense or is it just dumb?

Let me know in the comments!

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