Lauren Panepinto addresses sexism in art (or why there is no happy medium)

io9 did an article a couple weeks ago featuring some redesigns of iconic female characters whose designs, I presume, are considered ‘problematic’. Some of the redesigns are really good, others not-so-much. But they all have two things in common: they are done by women artists and feminists will still find things to bitch about.

Peach gets a lot of crap because she’s very girly girl and constantly being kidnapped by a dragon and has to be saved by Perseus. I mean Mario.


So the solution is to give her a bazooka and have her show some tits and leg.  Gee, isn’t this just a ‘man with boobs’?
Honestly, I’ve always thought that Polaris had a weird/ugly design. The fix isn’t much better. polaris

Because the fix for Polaris was to give her the same design that was problematic for the next example, Samus.

The Zero suit isn’t my favorite look for Samus, but even if it was problematic, I don’t think Rob Liefelding her was the answer.


That outfit looks ridiculous.

Apparently the fix for Scarlet Witch is keeping the sexy while making her look 16. Great idea.



Good job, there.

Storm’s redesign here is actually pretty badass.


The thing about Storm that should be noted, though, is that her full ownership of her body and sexuality has always been an integral part of her character (no, not the “But Starfire has always been a slut!” excuse, she was a tribal African who’d been worshiped as a goddess). She comes from a place and culture where clothes aren’t exactly the norm; it’s part of her exposition that other X-Men (especially the women… yes the white women) aren’t comfortable with this aspect of Storm.

And speaking of X-Men without a lot of clothes, this redesign of Emma Frost basically swaps out playing up the boobs for Zettai Ryouiki.


“You know what this female character needs to be less objectified? No discernible pants!”

There are a lot more, but you can see for yourself over at io9.

17 responses to “Lauren Panepinto addresses sexism in art (or why there is no happy medium)

  1. The redesign for Peach is stupid. Why is pink and dresses bad? Isn’t the our patriarchal view of things made us consider them feminine, and therefore a sign of weakness? They moved Peach from being a walking female stereotype to a walking male stereotype, only with tits.

    I really agree with everything you said. Only Storm’s and Zero’s design don’t conform to ‘sexuality and femininity is bad’. Zero is a sci-fi fighter, so a suit with a lot of equipment makes more sense.

    • Thanks, and thanks for dropping by to comment. I think that the Zero suit could be given a bit more functional look, but considering all of the gadgets and gizmos packed into her battle suit, the tons of extra pockets and stuff makes her look like something out of a different franchise with a lower tech setting. Maybe Battletech? But yeah, I actually like that look for storm. I didn’t go into some of the other stuff from the article, but mostly because they were characters who I either wasn’t really familiar with or were kind of ridiculous beyond rehabilitation (like Red Sonja or the girl from that heavy metal thing?)

  2. While the Peach with a rocket launcher is awesome, the other Peach will sell more merchandise. Kid friendly and all 🙂

    But really the whole rocket launcher doesn’t fit a Mario game. Just give her blue overalls and a black shirt. Why red? Pink is too feminine and red puts her on par with Mario. Feminism is about equality not female first.

    There’s never a happy medium in art, its all interpretation.

    Oh and what about fat princess? She’s a hefty honey. People were all up in arms she was called fat when quite honestly she’s obese.

    As for Zero Suit Samus… its a skin tight suit because she fits into a suit of armor. Logically would you have a lot of tactile armor on when slipping into a suit? You wouldn’t wear a dress or a skirt either. It would cover you neck to toe, hands included, because metal chafes.

    • I actually think that the Peach with a bazooka looks kind of cool. But it sure as hell doesn’t address the types of criticisms I’ve seen of female characters.

      Honestly, I don’t think that some people want equal or diverse representation as much as they want to have things to complain about.

      Equality Peach probably wouldn’t be a princess, either; too much privilege.

      Good point about the Zero Suit. Really, the only “change” that would make it more practical or “realistic” looking would be a tighter chest area that would squeeze the boobies down and hold them in place rather than accentuate them.

      • Oh I agree its still cool. Any new twist on an old favorite is always fun like the new Power Rangers short how its dark and gritty. Not to mention the modern Mortal Kombat web series.

      • Man, I just thought of something… it totally reminds me of the end of the Mario Bros movie when the princess shows up with a rifle for the whole “here we go again!” sequel hook.

        Speaking of MK, too bad that whatsisname isn’t going to be directing a new MK movie after all. Sure, the web series was good, but it wasn’t quite what a lot of us wanted after the “fake” re-imagined trailer.

      • There was a huge argument in the MK community about how that guy was going to direct it… and how yet no he wasn’t because someone else has the rights. I don’t see that movie or any movie that drastically different working longer than 10 minutes. The original is tough to beat, but its just a modernized version of Enter the Dragon.

      • If he’d gone the direction of the fake trailer, it would’ve been like a bizarro version of the King of Fighters movie. I remember being curious about it, because I was a huge KoF fan, but when I started seeing a few previews and behind the scenes, I was just all “What is this? Terry Bogard is a federal agent? Tournament Realm? Did they get their franchise mixed up?”

        I thought the original MK was cool when I first saw it (years after it came out, sometime in the late 90s), but it didn’t age well. It benefited from being just-good-enough and having great timing: it was competently made and came out in both the midst of MK hype and still at the tail end of the mainstream American public thinking ninja and martial arts movies were still cool.

      • I think with these “badace reinvisionings” they’re just missing fun. At least in terms of movies and watchability I’ve always envisioned Mario as a cop drama 🙂 If it came out on Youtube, everyone would be OMG so awezome. If it made its way to a movie theater people would say OMG so awful. Why doesn’t the prinzess have a frilly pink dress?

      • Y’know, if you completely divorce it from the established canon and franchise, the Super Mario Brothers Movie was actually a decent spoof of 80s dystopian science fiction action movies.

        To me, one of the biggest problems with the direction of the Mario franchise is the departure from Mario’s blue-collar roots: Just imagine a next-gen interpretation of Wrecking Crew!

        Too bad Donald Sutherland’s so old and was already in a remake of King Kong; he’d’ve made a great Mario for Donkey Kong.

        I’d have a difficult time imagining a Mario cop drama unless it revolved around an ongoing investigation of Mario Brothers, who were under surveillance. Ooh, and they could recycle some of the old Lou Albano skits into plots!

  3. I don’t know that a “redesign” short of “starring in their own game, doing a thing which is fun, fantastic, and identifiable” really carries much weight. Then again, redesigns can be fun to imagine, so mission accomplished?

    I think the Emma Frost redesign should be in a Castlevania game.


    • True. And I agree, a lot of the redesigns are really neat. My main quip is that if the purpose of these redesigns is to somehow make characters less “problematic”, it’ll always fail because something will always be problematic to somebody for some reason, and a lot of these don’t even “correct” the typical criticisms leveled at the characters’ designs’ even by the site that published the article.

      Frankly, that Emma Frost piece there is gorgeous, but when the main complaint against her is “she has too much sexy going on”, swapping out one fetish appeal for another (one which I wouldn’t even have known was a thing if it hadn’t been for TVTropes) doesn’t “fix” it.

      I’m reminded of something that Liana Kerzner wrote recently that one of the biggest problems with the criticisms of the designs of female characters is that those criticisms are often so extreme and harsh, and because you can’t please everyone, it actually has been a significant part of what discourages designers from including female characters in the first place.

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  6. I don’t get the “man with boobs” argument… I like characters like Arya, Brienne of Tarth (in the game of thrones series) and Hitgirl (kickass). Bazooka peach looks awesome to me. I’d buy the comic with that picture on the cover…

    • Yeah, it’s basically a way for certain kinds of feminists to still be angry about when creators do something to try to make other kinds of feminists happy.
      “We need stronger more kickass female heroes!”
      “You just made her a man with boobs!”

      • Everything and everyone has to be a perfect rolemodel these days… Can’t we just have a cool character? How boring would it be when all movies/games/books portray the mundane instead of the exceptional…

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