We call her the “bodisaurus” in my house. You know who I mean. The female creature of comicsville whose exaggerated and over-emphasized sexually-relevant parts are so in-your-face that HER face is a nearly an afterthought.
Whether she’s a superhero or villain, her “attire” is completely impractical for her job. Every frame has us wondering if a wardrobe malfunction is in the offing. Is that a nipple we see? How does she avoid permawedgey in that getup? Is that Spandex or paint?
You’re going to encounter her, no matter how hard you try to avoid her or avoid her territory. While reading through a recent issue of the extremely girl-power-positive “Batgirl,” my daughter and I were rudely interrupted by an ad for the bodisaurus, “Harley Quinn.” I couldn’t bring myself to include a picture of her here. Just Google her, if you’re curious (not at work, in public, or in front of your kids – that’s my advice, anyway).
The practical thing to do is be prepared. But being prepared for the bodisaurus is tricky at best. I haven’t mastered it, but I can pass along advice I’ve picked up here and there that seems to work as well as anything else.
1) Talk about it. And question it. Ponder aloud, “I wonder why Wonder Woman’s legs are so bare? Wouldn’t it be better to be covered up and protected?” “Geez, I’m afraid her top is going to fall off. I wonder why they don’t give her a better top.” “I bet she wishes she had Batgirl’s costume!” “Gosh, I bet Superman wouldn’t like his costume falling off like that. I wonder if she doesn’t like it.” Saddle the elephant in the room.
Be careful about being too judgmental or disparaging of the image. This can create an unintended mystique. Remember, the bodisaurus is still a member of the sisterhood, and we should be on her side. If your daughter is a little older than mine (who is currently five), you can even discuss whether you think the image is meant to appeal to males or females.
2) Do try to avoid it. As best you can, pre-screen your kids’ entertainment. You can then find a way to dodge any bodisauri (?) or at least be prepared with how you’re going to handle it when your kid(s) sees it.
3) Find strength in numbers. Fight fun with fun (like the author of “Cinderella Ate My Daughter” says). Make sure the girl-power-positive images in your home outnumber the bodisaurus in the comics, toys and action figures, books, television and film.
This is something that I continue to explore and research. These three tactics are what I’ve got working right now. But there are probably more and better approaches out there. Let’s find them together.