I saw this picture up on a few Facebook pages this morning with a lot of 'how cute!' commentary, and how great it was that these particular super heroes were getting some love. Don't get me wrong, I'm a HUGE fan of Marvel Girl aka Captain Marvel and Phoenix, but this photo rubbed me the wrong way.
I tried to trace the photo back to it's source, and got to Thom Zhaler's Twitter feed. Adorable 'pow!' sounds aside, look closely at how Supergirl and Ms. Marvel are posing. I see duck lips on Ms. Marvel and awkward overall stances on both of them. Why the emphasis on a sideways pose? There's no doubt in my mind that these two kids have absorbed the idea of How Super Women Look off the art of comics and other mediums. Ever since DC released the New 52 and the backlash against Starfire and Catwoman, and the amazing Hawk Eye Initiative, I've been hyper-aware of how bad women in comics generally look. Their contorted, overly sexualized poses, ridiculous costumes, nevermind shabby treatment story wise (hello Women in Refridgerators!) is a black mark on the industry as a whole.
To be fair, I didn't read comics growing up; they were considered a waste of money and it wasn't allowed. Even as I got older and started earning money of my own I still shied away from buying anything so 'silly' as comics. Now that I'm old enough, have some spare cash now and then, AND have embraced my geekiness, I'm very selective about what I buy and bring into the house. It's important to me and my husband that our kids have a healthy relationship with other people, and their own bodies and sexualities. Too much (almost all?) of pop culture is rooted in gender stereotypes and hypersexualizatiom of youth. This image to me, while cute, is problematic and isn't happening in a vaccuum. It's a product of a much wider, deeper problem.