How To De-Objectify Women in Comics: A Guide

By Renae De Liz

The following was originally posted on Renae’s Twitter feed. It is collected and reprinted here with permission.

As an artist, what can I consider if I want to de-objectify and add power to female characters?

How to De-Objectify Women in Comics by Renae De Liz

How to De-Objectify Women in Comics by Renae De Liz

Want to challenge yourself to focus less on objectification & more on character? You’re helping change things & you’ll be MY personal hero. 🙂

Drawing women sexy is an automatic response to many artists. Done without thought. I was like that for many years until I recognized it

If you choose to draw women sexy, that’s fine! Discussing alternatives and recognizing patterns should not threaten you.

My intent is to help those who WANT to promote change in their work (which can be challenging). Not to shame those who choose otherwise.

 

I chose Power Girl (with boob window) because she’s often objectified, and to show even she can be drawn differently if an artist considers certain things.

  1. (Left) A common expression in comics. Eyes are lidded, mouth is pouty. It’s look to promote a sense of sexiness & lessens personality.
    (Right) Personality and uniqueness first. Think of distinct facial features outside the usual. Promote thought in eyes. What’s she thinking of?
  2. (Left) Commonly taught way to draw breasts (OR fully separated/circles/sticking out). The intent is to highlight sex appeal. It’s not realistic for a hero.
    (Right) What’s REALISTIC for your hero? Athletes need major support (i.e sports bra) which have a different look. Consider not ALL heroes have DD’s.
  3. Arms are closer to supermodel size on the left. What best fits your hero? If she’s strong, she’ll likely very built. Give her muscles!
  4. Hands on left are set in a way to promote the sense of softness, it lessens her power. Be sure hands are set in a way to promote strength
  5. (Left) It’s common to see “the arch n’ twist” in comics. A female arched and twisted to show both cheeks AND both boobs.
    (Right) Twists in the body are a powerful art tool but stick to what can realistically be done, and use arches w/o intent for “boob/butt perk.”
  6. One on left feels like she’s posing. The right feels like she’s standing heroically. Make her overall pose functional vs. sexually appealing.
  7. Heels! Modern heels are generally used to amplify stance & increase visual appeal. I like them, but if I were a hero, not too realistic.  Most important is what would your character choose? It’s very difficult to hero around in stilettos. Perhaps consider low/no heels.

ANOTHER NOTE ON BREASTS: If your hero has a zippered top, DON’T unzip it! Breasts can easily fall out during hero work, which would be silly

If nothing else, consider this: Would I do this to a male character? (ie, would you perk out Batman’s butt and twist him to see BOTH his pecs?)

I just touched the tip of the iceberg with this. If you have your own advice, please share it! 🙂


Renae De Liz (Legend of Wonder Woman) is an Eisner-nominated artist. You can follow her on Twitter or check out her blog to see more of her work.

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John Marcotte

John Marcotte

Secret identity of a father raising two super-heroic young girls

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