Body Image & Comic Books – See how the Bodies Changed?
Body Image – Comic books are perhaps one of the widest spread things for boys and to a larger extent than one would think… girls. To form their ideas of body image and what constitutes perfection. And if you look back over the years then you can see how social perception has altered what we see in these comics… or perhaps it’s the other way around?
Let’s turn back the pages to the first example of the modern comic book hero; Superman. Superman was originally thick through the shoulders with a trim but round stomach and heavy arms and legs. The reason for this was that, at the time, the character’s art was based off of circus strongmen. It’s also the same reason he wore tights. The same is true of Batman, who was less muscular but was built like the professional athletes of the time. Even the original drafts of Captain America showed someone who, while in superb physical condition, wasn’t rippling with slabs of muscle. So the question is, what changed? How did these and other heroes, which started out with achievable and believable physiques, change into the nigh-impossible examples that we see on the glossy pages today?
Well, major changes to the heroes we love likely came with changes in what we, as a culture, viewed as strong and fit. As sports culture changed, particularly during competitions with the USSR when it still existed, the use of steroids and advanced training techniques became more common. The results, of course, were bigger and more muscle-bound athletes. This perception moved forward into the 1980s and 1990s where classic heroes were given a complete makeover, making these paper paragons into fantastically proportioned men and women that were outside the realms of reality without absolute dedication to your appearance and body.
We’ve seen this same trend expand out to so many parts of modern culture that we just accept it now when wrestling superstars, fitness models and actors all sport physiques for the cameras that make us drool in envy and which would make us cry in order to get them. It’s not so much that this is the ideal that’s the problem, really. The problem is that there doesn’t seem to be an understanding of the ridiculous amount of work that goes into that sort of body. It takes time, dedication, training and a very explicit diet, as well as a godly will.
What we try to learn from nudism and the nudist movement is that all body types are unique and should be accepted. Perhaps one day, the comic book industry, will understand that they more than just fun for young people. They help shape body image as well as the minds of future generations!