It happens every day. In fact, it is pretty hard to avoid it. There are some things that can only be understood with a slap on the forehead. Things so mind-boggling that one wonders how humans managed to evolve thumbs while being this mentally inept. Case in point:
Bear with me a moment and allow me to share my pain. My godson comes over to me and dangles his tablet in front of my face. I stare at it for a few seconds, stupefied by the image on the screen. It is so wrong, so viciously moronic that the only words I can manage are, “What the fuck are you showing me?”
What he showed me was this:
Bulimia.com decided that superheros are too super. As explained on the site:
When it comes to accurate depictions of the human body, comic book heroes are hardly realistic. Whether they’re sprouting blades from their hands or surviving decades in a deep freeze, these characters regularly push the limits of what’s considered possible. But they also depart from realistic human anatomy in a more mundane sense: Almost none of them reflect the typical physique of most Americans.
Yes, of course. It is perfectly fine to have a man store three sharp knifes in both his arms between his humerus, radius, and ulna directly next to major blood vessels that he never seems to cut while managing to twist and turn his arm normally. Yet the notion he might have 2% body fat is too fantastical.
The site continued:
Today, 33.7% of men and 36.5% of women in the U.S. are considered obese, and more than two-thirds are overweight. Weight gain has put millions of people at risk of heart disease, diabetes, and other preventable conditions. Meanwhile, comic books depict vastly different figures: men with massive biceps and shoulders and women with toned abs and tiny waists.
Yes, we can all see the mistake. Superheros are supposed to be at peak physical condition and obviously such a condition entails having enough body fat to be considered overweight or obese. That is precisely why we see scores of overweight gymnasts, sprinters, and pole vaulters.
This is not to say that there are not athletes who would not qualify as overweight by general standards. Many weightlifters would be called overweight. Summo wrestlers are technically overweight. Even martial artists like Sammo Hung are technically overweight. However, these people are also rather muscular underneath the body fat and they are still rather athletic. No average American could perform at these people’s level.
Yet even if one were to take the site’s position seriously, how could one possibly believe that a person with a heightened metabolism and healing factor like Wonder Woman would have much, if any, body fat? Anyone who engaged in all the training that superheroes practice would by default lose weight. Want proof? Here is Chris Pratt before and after his training for Guardians of the Galaxy:
Here is Seth Rogen before and after The Green Hornet:
That is what happens when one is active. One’s metabolism increases, and one naturally loses weight. If one engaged in regular exercise in order to further enhances one’s natural abilities, one would also gain muscle. This would result in one having less body fat by default.
It is unfortunate that there are people who suffer from body image issues. Many of these people are overweight. Many are normal or underweight but think they are overweight. That is a horrible thing. However, that does not change that people who regularly workout and remain active simply will not have lots of body fat.
But that is not what truly bothered me about Bulimia.com’s article. This was:
So what would they look like if they reflected more typical body shapes and sizes? We’ve Photoshopped several major comic book characters – not to touch them up, but to make the average hero look more like the average American.
Why? Why do you need to do this? And if you felt the need to do it, why do you do it like this:
Why are you ruining artists’ work? These men and women worked hard to draw the covers. They do not need “fixing.” They are fine the way they are.
If you felt the need to do this, why do it like this? Why the terrible Photoshopping? Why not just hire an artist to redraw the covers? There are entire sites full of them. There are even professional artists like Amanda Conner who prefer to draw “average” sized people.
I cannot fault Bulimia.com for wanting to help people feel good about themselves, however, this is not the way to do it. I agree that trying to look like a superhero is not a good idea. Very few people will ever look like that (except for the 15-year-old so-and-so who showed me the image on his tablet).
That does not mean that our fantasies have to reflect reality. That is why they are fantasies. In our fantasies, people have perfect, flawless bodies except for the random yet esthetically pleasing scar.
We do not want to look like old Chris Pratt. We want to look like new Chris Pratt. The one who has who shovel food in his mouth between his fourth and fifth hour of training six days a week.
Let us have our fantasies so we do not need to say to our heroes: