Friday, December 22, 2006

Study Shows Female Comic Book Characters Too Skinny

In a wonderful study titled, "Comparative Sex-Specific Body Mass Index in the Marvel Universe and the 'Real' World," a group of scientists has calculated the Body Mass Index (BMI) of Marvel comic strip characters and compared them to actual people, to see how comics stood up.

Their findings: 28% of Marvel women are underweight (funny, I would have guessed a higher percent from looking at their site). On average, female comic characters had BMI's on the low end of average. "This result is surprising, " the authors wrote, "considering that many of the women sampled are martial artists or extremely capable physically and should, if anything, have a BMI that indicates a higher body fat level than is actually present." Clearly, it takes a little more than a model's body mass to run at supersonic speeds or jump a 10 story building from a standstill.

The authors stress that their data is not conclusive, due to small sample size and "the physical and biological vagaries of the Marvel Universe." But, they say, "advance data indicates that Marvel women are portrayed as having a disturbingly low BMI compared to the healthy BMI range of their male counterparts ... The average Marvel female is approaching underweight despite a presumably active lifestyle. This may corroborate sociological and literary observations that in the Marvel Universe, women must fulfil criteria for being attractive by Western standards before fulfilling the criteria of biological realism." Though clearly, there is at least one exception to that rule.

Thanks for the link, Marc.

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2 Comments:

Blogger rare HERO said...

When the paradigm shifts from a culture that objectifies women, you shall see a change in the artwork depicting women. Still it should be noted that males in comic books are commonly disproportionately muscular.

3:42 PM  
Anonymous Joseph Beaulieu said...

I'm a father of 2 great daughters, and even they know that charecters in comics are just that... charecters. Not real in anyway. And to try to say that in comparison to real people... THEY are not real, that's why they call it fiction, fantasy and mostly COMIC book. To compare comics to reality is somewhat a waste of time. People over the years have wanted Bugs Bunny banned because he occasionnaly puts on a dress... it's a cartoon. A better comparison would be the unrealistic people and conditions found every weeday afternoon on the "soaps".

My wife and I are both avid comic book collectors, (I have 4 degrees) and my wife is an author and artist; and are botherred when studies such as this are done without all the proper information. Such as : the average collector 80% is male 20 to 45, 15% female 20 to 45 and only 5% under the age of 20 with an 85% being male. There are more children being exposed to the unrealistic body shapes, violence and sex found on afternoon television then in book form. The real answer is in parents watching, reading and explaining to their children the difference between reality and fiction. My daughters are 12 and 10, both read comicbooks and novels and watch movies at a higher level than their peers. Children that are raised properly can easilly tell the difference between the fiction of movies,fictional books and the reality of the news and real life.
To imply that the creators of comic books should make their fictionnal people more realistic, well is just not very realistic. After all we are talking about a make believe world where people fly and have capes...To quote Stan Lee and fred Humpeck " 'nuff said " !

4:32 PM  

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