It has long been established that a double standard exists when looking at the portrayal of women versus men in comic books, especially among superheroes. Male characters wear full body costumes to fight evil but females have to go into battle with outfits that barely cover their nipples. As sad as it is, trying to argue for equality in that area seems like a losing battle. However, there is another superhero double standard occurring currently that could be more easily changed. Hollywood, I’m looking at you here.
Casting is one of those things happening in the background of entertainment that has a huge impact on the end product we see. Casting puts the right person in dream roles and keeps stories alive and on track. Casting is also doing a disservice to the people in the audience, especially women.
Men cast to play heroes, especially superheroes, are buff. They look like they really could save a damsel in distress and the whole world at the same time. Basically, they look like this:
On the other hand, the women cast to play superheroes look a lot different. They have thin waists, skinny arms, and hair that never gets out of place no matter how many bad guys they face. In short, they are cast because they are beautiful. See for yourself:
They look like a strong wind might blow them over, and yet the audience is to believe that these women are what a strong woman should look like. Don't think that I have anything against these women. They are all great actresses, they are fantastic at projecting their characters, and they can do a choreographed fight scene like champs. The problem I have is with the continued casting furthering the idea that this is what strong women have to look like.
I understand that superhero movies and television shows are about extraordinary people doing extraordinary things. I love that about them, but I'm an adult who can distinguish between realistic expectations of the human body and the wonders of wires and special effects. Go to a superhero movie at the cinema and you will surrounded by children who cannot yet make such a distinction. Even very young children are already forming their ideas about body image, so a lot of the little girls in that theater are probably thinking, "Wow. Catwoman's awesome. And look how skinny she is."
Maybe if we cast women in hero roles that have muscles believable enough those kinds of observations won't be made anymore. I'm not asking Hollywood to cast bodybuilders because that goes to the opposite extreme. I'm just asking for more Gina Carano types and less waif-like women. By giving young girls some strong, realistic-looking superheroes to watch, maybe we'll even manage to raise a few.