March 1st, 2010 by | Tags:

Gina Torres talked to Wired Magazine about the excellent Crisis on Two Earths.  Here’s the quote that went rocketing around the blogosphere.

There aren’t really any skinny bitches in the world of comic books…they’ve got muscle. . . . What I love about superheroes, and Superwoman in particular, is that in that comics world they’re all curvaceous. They’re strong.

I grew up in what must have been the most friendly high school in the world.  I look at Glee, Mean Girls, and Can’t Hardly Wait, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Gossip Girl, and almost every other portrayal of high school and it might as well be some kind of costume drama.

Who grows up in schools like this?  In lives like this?  I know there are always a few vocal idiots, but I haven’t noticed a war being declared between ‘skinny’ and ‘curvy’ women, ‘popular’ and ‘unpopular’ women, or really any other kind of women.  At most, the groups are pretty indifferent to each other.  More often, they get along just fine.

And yet every quote, every TV show, every comic, and every movie seems to imply that this war is going on. 

Where are they getting this from?  Is there some secret battleground of which I am unaware?

Sometimes I think that the only reason anyone says stuff like this is they’re trying to sell this fantasy of conflict.  It might make a decent trope in fiction, but in real life, it doesn’t make sense.

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19 comments to “Undeclared”

  1. I can definitely agree that in high school there wasn’t any debate between “curvy women” vs. the “skinny women”. However, I can see how comics serve as a rare medium where being starved isn’t the norm or even practical, as opposed to film, television, and especially in fashion / magazines. If I see one more photoshopped twig-limb…well, then that just means I must have blinked while standing in line at the grocery store.

    However, there does seem to be a resurgence in totally ridiculous anatomy (see Marvel Divas artist J. Scott Campbell, as I think he’s just guessing what hips look).

  2. Then thank your stars you went to a school that wasn’t a hellhole.

  3. No skinny bitches in comics? Someone kept her away from Ed Benes then.

    And for that, I envy her.

  4. I’ve seen this war. It is real. I’ve seen the “female hate” in action and its kind of stunning.

  5. In my high school, first week I was in, a girl took of her high heel shoes and, holding another girl against the stair steps (which had those metal edges) used them to beat the crap out of her.

    I think that qualifies as a war act.

    (and yes, I went to a really fucked up school)

  6. Oh yeah, and another one, it was this one girl’s birthday and another girl that hated her showed up and gifted her a hand mirror, with a note “So you can see how ugly you are” (or something to that effect).

    The birthday girl then proceeded to smash the mirror in the other girls face, punching, pushing, and hair pulling followed.

    High school: the best time of your life!

  7. I had a truly horrendous time at school, scarcely a day went by without some kind of confrontation (I ended up being asked not to return apart from to do final exams after skipping out of the premises to avoid a gang of about 30 kids looking to kick my head in – well, most of them were just there to watch, bt y’know). We don’t have as clearly defined Jocks/Geeks/whatever divide as it is presented in the US media we get over here, but I do remember alot of kids getting away with murder (not literally) because they were valued as members of one sports team or other. I try not to think about my school days, once I’d left and gone to college it was sunshine and roses though so it turned out nice in the end.
    I think it’s a very real problem, I don’t know about the states, but here in the UK you do get a fair ammount of kids topping themselves as they see it as their only way out.

  8. Oh, I’m male BTW, but there were girls in my year that had it just as shit as I did.

  9. You can’t be a ‘bitch’ if you’ve got muscle?


    I mean, it was nuts anyway, but..

  10. I don’t mean to be rude, Esther, but your post really doesn’t have anything to do with what the actress is saying: she’s complaining that in movies, TV shows, etc. that all the “tough girls” or action heroines usually look like they’re fit enough to maybe–maybe–pick up a 2LB weight as the extent of their physical abilities (and it’s made worse when they’re supposed to be badass but the women playing them either overact it or when it comes time to fight clearly haven’t been trained to.) She’s right that in comics, you’re more likely to see a woman who looks like she has in fact been crime fighting 24/7 and training for that role–while yes, there’s still a lot of artists that like to go for cheesecake or Ed Benes style guys, the former will at least still draw Wonder Woman and Powergirl (I can’t speak for the Marvel side, since I don’t have much experience with it) with biceps and powerful legs and thankfully the LOOK AT THIS SHE HAS AN ASS/TITS!! style of the 90s has greatly decreased.

    Interesting to note, there is one woman who doesn’t get drawn as too physically powerful but who I think it actually makes sense for: Barbara Gordon/Batgirl. If you’ve read her series, or Batgirl: Year One, it’s actually part of her character that she’s physically smaller and not too powerful, and she uses that to lull enemies (at one point, she feigns fear and waits for a gun-wielding thug to start laughing at her so his guard is down and he has less chance of shooting her when she tries to disarm him) and her speed to her advantage in taking down people she fights.

  11. I think all of Torres’ quotes are kind of funny, because Superwoman isn’t exactly the epitome of the STRONG-WILLED, UNEXPLOITED INDEPENDENT WOMAN (RAH RAH RAH). I mean, her fight with Wonder Woman in the movie involves a pretty blatant display of cat-fight-esque hair pulling, and she’s fawning over Owlman the entire time.

  12. The thing about “skinny bitches”– it’s not a general term for thin women. As far as I know, it’s origin lies with Mo Nique, standup comedian and big ol girl. It’s… what’s the word, gaining self-esteem points by making fun of someone else? “Skinny bitches might run the world, but us big girls and fat bitches know what’s up!” It’s half “White people walk like this, black people walk like this” and half “Fabulous And Thick is beautiful, y’all need to stop letting yourself be marginalized and just keep it real.” I’m doing a poor job of explaining it, but it’s kind of like when Pryor used to make jokes about black people on-stage– yeah, it’s crude, but it’s also funny, disarming, and, in its own way, equalizing. It changes the tone of the discussion in pop culture, explores taboos, etc etc.

    I don’t necessarily buy that there’s a war, but there is that disparity of skinny girls vs thick girls on magazine covers. Mo Nique’s “skinny bitches” shtick is a way of counteracting that. “Yeah, they get all the magazine covers, but all they men want us anyway, so who cares? We’re still beautiful.” It’s not really a high school thing.

    And I agree with Torres- when drawn by people who care and/or are good at what they do, there’d be very Buffy-type people in comics. They’re buff, they’ve got curves… Amanda Conner’s Power Girl is a good example, as is Chriscross’s (and probably Doug Mahnke and Ed McGuinness’s) Wonder Woman.

  13. @david brothers:

    I hear you. I know that I personally used to make Jew jokes when I was the only Yid in my class at school. People bond through humour. Potential conflicts can be easily deflated this way, and it helps to make people comfortable when they encounter something new and unusual for them.

    However, I made sure to keep it light. I didn’t want to make others feel comfortable at my own expense. There’s the rub, trying to find the right level of self-depreciation without going too far.

    “It’s… what’s the word, gaining self-esteem points by making fun of someone else?”

    Schadenfreude, David?

  14. Oh and if done right, it does transfer the power to you.

    as for the topic… All fiction, whether genre or not, is about exaggeration. Naturally, these social conflicts must exist in real life, but usually not to the level portrayed in fiction.

  15. Everytime I hear the term “skinny bitch” I always think of this book.

    I went to private school, and we mostly minded our own business. Everyone was too busy freaking out about their own life to be worrying about others, so there wasn’t really any bullying of the type that’s seen in the media or movies. (yeah, I loved high school). Granted, middle school was another story but I hear that middle school girls are the lowest of the low on the human scale (my children psychology professor’s words mind you) so no shocker there. 🙂

  16. Skinny vs Curves was my favorite Robert Kanigher Wonder Woman issue

  17. I’ve never seen the kind of rigid clique hierarchies in real life that are so frequently depicted in fictional high schools. I have seen some of that divisiveness, but never to the extent that you see in Glee and that sort of thing. (And OMG, I completely forgot about Can’t Hardly Wait. That brings back memories.)

    However, you do often hear people talking about what constitutes “real women”, or how certain body types are beautiful or healthy. I find most of that talk seems to stem from media…magazines, talk shows, celebrities, etc.

  18. You know…when my mom and dad were watching Mean Girls…they said it was like watching their own High School years. My parents are in their sixties.

  19. My take on the “skinny bitches”/”curvy women” drama: It primarily exists in schools with definite class structures, and it’s more visible the higher the class level. If you went to school with a bunch of broke-ass students, you didn’t see it. If you went to school with a contingent of broke ass people, a contingent of middle-class-by-the-skin-of-their-teeth people and a few rich people, it became more visible. If you had the “luck” of going to a school with a definite class structure of 33% poor, 33% rich and 33% middle class, you’d find yourself praying for Graduation Day and wishing that you hadn’t skipped a grade. Yes, this is coming from experience (military brat). Two months into my final semester, attending a “Hollywood” style high school, and I was wishing that the worst thing that I had to deal with was another shooting. At a ghetto school, you’re only targeted if you stand out, and it’s easy to blend into the crowd. At one of *those* schools (> <), however, trouble came to you whether you liked it or not. For some reason, though, they took offense to having their quarterback kneecapped. Pussies. I hope that bitch is serving fries somewhere…