Giving Video Game Women "Average" Body Types Is Depressing
Obviously, to avoid the mindless mobs armed with torches and pitchforks, I have to explain the headline.
First, the source: Bulimia.com has run a feature where they "reverse photoshop" several iconic female video game characters. The idea is to eliminate the original unrealistic version and give women like Lara Croft, Tifa Lockheart, Cortana and Sonya Blade "average American body shapes."
And it's depressing as hell.
Bulimia is an extremely serious disorder and one that can and does lead to death. I will forever support any strides taken to deal with this disease that wrecks lives, and the lives of loved ones. I will not, however, bow to the new legions of "fat shaming" police, who are - as expected - turning a virtuous idea into a dangerous one. The current regime in this country is awfully good at that.
Should we be discriminating against people because of their weight? Of course not. One of my best friends growing up was always teased because of his weight and I'm well aware of the impact that had on him. Should our goal be to see someone for who they are, as opposed to the size clothes they wear? Yup. But forgive me if I have greater respect for those who take care of themselves, who take responsibility for their health and their lives in general.
It's absolutely true that female characters in games have been oversexualized to death. But we've been making great strides in this field, as per my recent article. One should also note that for the Bulimia.com article, the author used the old Lara Croft model, and it's my belief they ignored the revamped and more realistic model on purpose. It is not wrong to give women more realistic contours in a video game; women do tend to have wider hips and smaller chests than what we've seen in our games.
I get all that. But is anyone at all at least a little depressed that "matronly" - the only accurate description of the new photoshopped models - is now "average?" Let me explain something: I want everyone to rummage around in their attics or perhaps the attics of their parents or grandparents. Find old pictures. I've done it and I've pored over many; know what I see? Thin. Almost none of the women I see in those old pictures have slightly bulging stomachs and wide hips. Ever seen a uniform worn by the average man in the Civil War?
We were a lot smaller several hundred years ago. We are, on average, both men and women, several inches taller and yeah, a lot heavier. Both my grandmothers and my mother had waistlines that we're starting to call "impossible" today. If such an article as the one at Bulimia.com had been possible all that time ago, and the premise was still "average American body shapes," how much of those video game images would we really have to change? The bust size, certainly. But not the waistlines or hips. There are some extreme circumstances in gaming where the waistline gets ridiculous but it's not that common anymore.
Not all women have to look like supermodels, and not all women have to be a size 6 or less. But the reality is that at one time in human history, the "average" was a lot thinner than it is now. So don't give me "impossible" and don't give people another excuse to let their health go to hell. And to those suffering with bulimia, I continue to have the greatest sympathy and I offer my sincere hope that they can beat what they're battling. Let's just leave it at that.
7/23/2015 9:45:58 PM Ben Dutka