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Representations of the female form

Much discussion has occurred widely, and here on The Artifice, concerning the representation of women. From their characteristics, values, roles, costuming and purposes within film, TV, literature and comics, there is a rising concern about the way women are represented in popular culture.

However, one area that has not received too much discussion yet is the concept of the representation of the female form. By this I am referring to the actual body type and shape of female characters. Although there is much written about the over sexualisation of the form – an emphasis on unrealistically sized breasts for example – there is little that discusses what constitutes a positive portrayal of the female form. For instance, if we go to the polar opposite and position women physically with almost a masculine form are we undermining the concept of femininity? Does that even matter? Or if we present them as pseudo-teenage boys does this then privilege the male form over that of the female form? As quite frankly, outside of supermodels most women will have pronounced breasts. Should this physical feature be depicted or ignored? What is the better choice? How can we continue to represent women in a positive manner without removing their gender altogether? I recognise that some would argue for this, an androgynous form, but would that form actually resonate with women or would it isolate them further?

How can we today present a positive version of the female form?

  • I actually added to this, but seem to have lost the update so I will add it here: A jumping off suggestion for dealing with this topic is to examine the representations of the female body currently popularised in visual means, look at the exact form and physical features and develop an overview of common stereotypes. Alongside this should be the discussion of the purpose of the different portrayals. This should then be compared to what fringe art is doing in the construction of the female form and explore how they are portraying gendered bodies in a modern manner that could be adapted into mainstream presentations. A discussion of the issue of the male-gaze and the stereotyping of body to gender expectations could also be interesting to explore. There are a number of interesting new representations of the female in comics and general art that are presenting more "realistic" views of the female body. – SaraiMW 6 years ago