Whenever I see some equivalent of “Little girls don’t care if female cartoon characters get prettied up or not so just shut up and stop making a big deal about it” getting tossed around. I just remember back to like my earliest memory of actually recognizing myself and realizing “hey this is me, this is what I look like”, I was rolling around in my parent’s room watching TV, caught sight of my chubby little mousey brown haired self in a mirror on a shelf by their bed and thought “Oh no! This is what I look like? This isn’t what girls are supposed to look like!” Then feeling some kind of three-or-four-year-old equivalent of dread like I had just done something wrong and this was going to be my life forever, not looking like what girls are supposed to look like.
Like that is literally one of my earliest memories, realizing I wasn’t pretty and girly and feeling like it was some kind of deformity.
So yeah, I can pretty much guarantee there are kids out there that this kind of thing says something to.
If you think that kids don’t pick up on societal bullshit and subsequently internalize them despite the fact that as humans we are very social animals then sorry but you don’t understand the development process that made you, you.
Children’s brains are specially made to understand their surroundings. This is most apparent in learning language, but it also very much applies to societal rules, stigmas, double standards, and expectations. Maybe it’s not conscious learning. But it certainly is latent learning. Which is why for some people it can be hard to think of society as any other way because it seems so natural.
THIS. All of the above is true!
It’s so upsetting to see people (including those who work for Disney) who excuse pretty-fying characters for merchandise because “children don’t see it as wrong”… Well YEAH, because they start to see themselves as wrong.
One of the worst parts of Merida redesign controversy is that her original appearance isn’t really defying any norms about conventional femininity!
She’s white, rather thin, long-haired and wears a dress. A real girl who looked like that probably wouldn’t question how female she is in the mirror. Yet meeting all those arbitrary markers of “girlishness” wasn’t enough to make Merida an official princess, additional tweaks were necessary.
Even the most tame attempt at creating a tomboy gets shunned!
Ugh, I’m so sick and tired of this :-/
Here are some reaction badges for when people troll you with their bullshit and ignorance.
Reblogging for future reference.
Here I’m going to write out an unfocused ramble about why I think it’s a smart idea to diversify one’s fictional cast of characters whenever possible. Full disclosure: I am a straight white man. Everybody likes stories. Stories are just one of those things every culture uses to tell itself about itself, its values and its identity. The thing is, Western culture is saturated with stories about heterosexual white men doing everything from exploring outer space to becoming lord of the apes to descending into a suicidal spiral of drug abuse and sex addiction. There are literally thousands of complex, interesting, flawed, brilliant, straight, white male characters. I honestly think we could go 100 years without another straight white male protagonist and still be extremely well represented.
But as we all know, straight white men are hardly the only people on earth. They’re not even the majority. Of all humans on the planet HALF, that’s one in two, are women. And that doesn’t even account for all the myriad races and cultures outside ours with all their unique perspectives and contributions. So where are the gay latin ninjas? Or the black female jungle explorers? Or the genius trans woman detectives? Where are the complex, fascinating, flawed and brilliant people of colour (POC), women and queer people in our fiction?
(Now, I appreciate links if people can send me examples, but the fact that there may be one or two decent Mexican superheroes is not really what I’m trying to get at.) The reason POC and women and queer people have so few really great characters to choose from is that the powers that be, Hollywood, the publishing industry, the games industry, mainstream comics, have decided to play it safe and not take risks on characters that some people might find it hard to relate to. In the same way that Hollywood thinks you only care about ‘splosions, Hollywood also thinks you’re racist and sexist. They really do. It’s not hard to find stories of well meaning, concerned, “liberal” producers being just a little worried that audiences may not find a black woman protagonist very appealing. It’s not that concerned Hollywood people are racist, heavens no! It’s just that some audiences are a little old fashioned and blah, blah, blah excuses. The year is 2013, by the way. Now I understand huge monolithic media empires like Disney and whoever’s still not Disney have to protect the interests of their investors because money. What I don’t understand is how the rest of us who are not beholden to some evil empire can possibly be content with just doing variations on the same straight, white, male characters all the time. If for no other reason than to be different. So look, I’m familiar with the history of poorly conceived “inclusive” characters that have been shoehorned into franchises for the sake of political correctness. The one (and only one) girl on every cartoon show who has to represent her entire gender and the one, (never two or three) black character that appears on every sitcom just to prove it’s not racist. Those characters usually suck. Why? Because they’re there just to check a box. They’re never given anything interesting to do and they rarely get to be more than just a representative of their demographic. Well nuts to that I say. Nobody should write a character just for the sake of having demographic X on display. That’s just bad writing. Only write characters who contribute to the story, are interesting and who have good stories to tell. BUT there is absolutely no reason whatsoever that your genius idea for a character can’t be black, or Hispanic or Arab or queer or a woman. None whatsoever, in fact, it’s an opportunity to add texture to a character that otherwise would have to struggle to stand out in a crowd of samey white guys.
Example: Omar Little from the Wire. He’s based on a real man who held up drug dealers to steal their money. How awesome is that? A completely unique character, totally thrilling. The creators also had the brilliant idea to make Omar gay. There was no money reason to. People might object. But they did it because it made Omar just that little bit more interesting. It was a smart creative decision that did just a little bit to make gay black men more visible and little bit more cool. I can’t see a single creative reason not to. Now I’m not saying you should arbitrarily make a character Chinese without familiarizing yourself to some extent with Chinese people. But a little research into another culture will enrich your understanding of the world and is worth doing anyway.
It’s also important to not appropriate elements of a culture in a way that takes from it without giving back. (Example: all the white guys who got rich recording the kinds of music created by black people, while those black artists died in obscurity.) Other peoples lives are not yours to strip-mine for ideas. I want to be clear about that. That’s not at all what I’m suggesting. I’m merely saying I want my queer, Asian and women friends to have wonderful characters to relate to so they can join the party we white people have been enjoying for centuries. So here you accomplish two things, 1) you better represent the diversity of people found in the real world and 2) you give an under served community a character of their own.
BUT WAIT! And this is important: think about how much you love the characters you identify with. How you take ownership of them and they become a part of you. It may be the Doctor, or Sherlock Holmes or Batman. Now think about how you’d feel if some writer exploited or mistreated that character or wrote them with disrespect. Consider that if you give a community outside your own a character they can become attached to, you have a responsibility to them to do your best by that character. I can see why writers would still shy away from writing diverse characters in order to avoid falling on their face. Yes, you may look stupid. But then again, so what? Are you really going to let your fear of failure allow you to contribute to marginalizing people? Your friends even? And look, with all the embarrassing failed attempts at diversity over the years, you cannot possibly fail as hard as DC Comics or sitcoms already have. So grow a spine.
So to all my queer, Chinese, black, female, Muslim, Indian and all the other friends and acquaintances whom I have learned from, partied with and enjoyed the company of my whole life, I want to include you. I want to welcome you into all the genres and spaces of fandom where you may have felt excluded. Come aboard. We want you here. I want you here. Fiction is too much fun not to share. Let’s explore it together. Please ask questions and comment as you see fit. I’m learning as much as anyone and I’m aware that my tone can be hard to interpret at times. A friend of mine alerted me on Twitter that I may have come off as opportunistic. In a way, I’m okay with that and here’s why: We professional creative types are constantly being told by cowardly executives that we can’t make characters more diverse or that we can’t let a token character be actually entertaining or interesting. I don’t buy that. I think there are millions of people out there who want stories that reflect and represent them and who aren’t being catered to. That’s called leaving money on the table. Ideally, people of colour and women will get the opportunity to create characters of their own, but they don’t have to be the only ones working toward greater diversity. If I make a comic with a popular gay character that causes a publisher to give a gay creator a shot at making his own comic, I helped both of us. The powers that be follow money first and foremost. If we show them there is money in diverse characters, they will have to present more diverse characters. We are in a period of time where mainstream media is doubling down on reboots and sequels and public domain works which means more of the same old straight white male characters over and over again. If we want better representation in the future, it’s up to us to make it happen. (I do care about social justice, but the primary concern of an entertainer is to entertain, so I’m focusing on the entertainment value of inclusiveness rather than the social value. A well-intentioned agenda can drag down a story like few other things. Nobody likes being preached to.)
Good for you. Want a cookie?
Ahhhh, I love these so much.
Truly the standards so high that once met they need to be rewarded.
Women don’t have to:
- be thin
- have a vagina
- give birth
- cook for you
- have long hair
- wear makeup
- have sex with you
- be feminine
- be graceful
- be fashionable
- wear pink
- love men
- be the media’s idea of perfection
- listen to your bullshit
Reblogging because there are still WAY to many people who think otherwise and need to see this.
Hey this is gonna be a little rant post! It’s just something I need to get off my chest!
I know a lot of people here on tumblr make fun of “sjb” and how “omgz ur tryin to change da worl on the internet ur a dum hahaha” lemme give you a little story
before i was on tumblr i was…
Just noticed that I never closed a tab with this post in my browser… And after a quick re-read came to conclusion it’s really worth reblogging.
An artist’s realization of how sites like eschergirls taught them to critically look at how their art represents only the narrow ‘ideal’ of female superheroine and how we’re all brainwashed to expect women to be the same.
GO READ IT NOW
ultra-feminine standards of that time, she’s probably actually really hot!” But the thing is, it’s okay that she’s ugly, it’s an important part of her character, but like, man, why do we have such a hard time accepting not-hot fiction ladies? \
Because people think the solution to women (and men) feeling like shit about themselves is to stretch the standards for physical beauty.
(It’s not that American readers can’t accept ugly women—that’s a bit of a misleading way to phrase it. It’s that they can’t bear to place that label on the woman in their head, because of how terribly cruel they think it is. It’s easier for them to place it on a man because it doesn’t feel like you’re taking everything away from him and reducing his worth to zero.)
The most crippling thing in America is for a person to feel their body isn’t nice to look at. Welp, that’s not all, or even most, of what your body’s for. But everyone’s telling you it is. How do we fix that?
You can change beauty standards to an extent, but you can’t eliminate them. That’s a lazy solution, anyway. “Everybody deserves to feel beautiful” is a mentality that suggests that it’s of paramount importance to be considered physically attractive, so that problem won’t change.
The solution isn’t to broaden your definition of “physically beautiful” to encompass every possible person, it’s to broaden your definition of beauty to encompass more than the physical. That’s become such a cliche that nobody seems to absorb it anymore.
Eventually, the solution is to broaden your definition of “worthwhile” and “valuable” to encompass more than just “beautiful.”
People who are really affronted when they see someone asserting any sort of framework for physical beauty are really exposing that they hold physical beauty in much higher regard than they ought to—that they are the narcissistic children of a narcissistic culture.
Kristen Schaal has that quote about being called too ugly to be on TV, and it boils my balls when people respond “whaaat, nooo, she’s so cuute, she’s so pretty, your standards of beauty are just too narrow” and think they’re being progressive. Maybe she is kind of cute; that’s not the point. That shouldn’t be the quality we need to defend. It shouldn’t be what gives her permission to be on television.
It’s like if someone were to say “Obama’s not white enough to be president” and you were to respond “awww, nooo, he’s white enough! your standards for whiteness are just too narrow.”
I don’t follow The Game of Thrones, but I can recognize this systematical problem from far away.
Visual media today not only teach us that beauty is somehow objective (a tip: it is not), but also that meeting narrow standards of visual appeal somehow validates a person’s worth.
As benkling says above, why should someone’s arbitrary level of attractiveness even matter?
I’ve gotten some questions about this after that most recent concern troll. You’ve got some options.
- Ignore them. They’re not entitled to a response from you; you’re not obligated to give one. And block, block, block, if you can. If you can’t resist engaging with them (hey, I’ve been there, I…
I seem to reblog a lot from Kaye recently, but her posts are just great.