In Praise of Heroes

I’m taking a break from my regular letters to write something that’s lingered on my mind this week.

Heroes.

Specifically female heroes.

This has been of particular consideration to me since She-Ra was rebooted this week. To say that I’ve been excited about this release would be an understatement.

I’ve basically been bouncing since I heard it.

Then squeeing when I heard that Noelle Stevenson was going to be the creative force behind it. Because in my mind, there’s no one better to be doing this than her. I am a bit biased, I’ve been a fan since she was Gingerhaze and writing a small webcomic called Nimona (shout out to Cleo for the recommendation so many years ago now). I’ve paid a lot of attention to her career, when she branched off to do Lumberjanes (something I’ve introduced to so many people in my life), and now, that she’s doing She-Ra.

There was a lot of the typical fanboy angst when there was talk of this. Much more when the first character designs were released. There were lots of ‘well I’m not being sexist but she’s not feminine enough’, which is roughly translated as ‘I’m sad because they’ve made her more muscular and she doesn’t have as big boobs’. It’s not an uncommon debate in the geek world, women for all that they are strong are often represented as hyper-female in a way that’s completely unrealistic and shouldn’t be the standard by which we judge our female heroes.

Having said that, there’s something wonderful about She-Ra, the new version, because it totally embraces the feminine and it unapologetic for it. Not that hyper feminine sterotype with a body that literally defies gravity but a more honest definition of feminin. It helps that it’s written completely by women, because we know, that it doesn’t matter how strong and powerful you are, you can still want things that sparkle.

It doesn’t make you less strong to want that either.

Honestly, I was the child who grew up wanting to be a princess, but also be the person that rode the winged horse with the giant sword and saved everyone. I never saw any disconnect between being a girl and being a hero. In fact, in my life, I was blessed to have lots of wonderful heroes to look up to. All women.

Women, who were strong and feminine. Who kicked arse but also cared about their hair and clothes. Women to me, who were a far more realistic version of the woman I was hoping to grow up to be.

She-Ra, this version, is the one I wished I’d grown up with. Honestly, not to say that I don’t love the other, because I really do, but I would have loved a show that showed me that I could be a hero, be feminine but not look like a Barbie. To like dresses and horses and swords, and be tall and strong. To be something outside of the ideal woman, some middle-aged man thought was appropriate for a hero in the mid-80s.

There’s a lot of reasons that this reboot has made me so giddy, but I’m going to leave that for another post, as there’s a lot to unpack and I’m not quite sure I’m ready to go into it yet. Plus I’ve already written many many words and I don’t want to overstay my welcome finding new ways to say how wonderful it is.

But it is.

It’s something that everyone should watch because it’s completely unapologetic in it’s portrayal of girls. Girls who are strong and amazing and powerful and like dresses and flying horses.

Normal girls.

Heroes.



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