These reimagined comic-book covers show what superheroes would look like with more realistic body types
***See full article with images here: www.insider.com/comic-book-superheroes-realistic-body-types-photo-series-2019-4
We're used to hearing about unrealistic body standards represented in advertisements and social media, but Bulimia.com and the American Addiction Centers are turning their attention to the standards set by comic-book superheroes.
Comic books are as popular as ever thanks to the mainstream success of Marvel and DC Comics, and the superheroes that grace their covers may have a lot of influence on impressionable young readers.
A recent picture series posted on Bulimia.com imagines what these heroes would look like with more realistic body types, and the side-by-sides show the often unattainable standards these comics depict.
Superheroes such as Catwoman were given a more realistic waistline. The research and content teams at the American Addiction Centers worked on the illustration series and chose the covers at random. Male superheroes like Batman were given fuller figures that downplayed their typically sculpted physiques. Defined abs were brushed over for fuller figures and more realistic facial features. The project started as a way to highlight the body types that are often presented to young comic-book readers. According to Denise Dunn, the Director of Clinical Excellence at American Addiction Centers, these illustrations could have an effect on one's body image.
"When it comes to perceptions of one's own body image, we know that starting at a young age people can begin to internalize messages as to what is acceptable and desirable," Dunn told INSIDER. The project is meant to spark a conversation about the body types given to popular superheroes, such as Storm from "X-Men."
"By showing these superheroes with the body type of a typical American, we hoped to spark a conversation about body image and the subliminal messages we are sending our young people," Dunn said. Characters like Phoenix from "X-Men" are a hit with both adults and children.
"With the growing popularity of comic books, more than 84.4 million copies sold in 2018 alone, and the idolization of superheroes, we wanted to take a closer look at the images portrayed," Dunn said of the idea behind the images. The project is also meant to spark a conversation about the standards set by drawings of characters like Wonder Woman.
"Unfortunately, our society has grown accustomed to seeing unrealistic beauty standards, from Photoshopped images on social media and in magazines to our comic-book superheroes," Dunn told INSIDER. "We are often oblivious to the problem, not fully realizing how these images can impact our perceptions of ourselves." The team behind the project feels the unrealistic body types of characters like Captain America can have a negative impact on one's body image.
"We can begin to have a negative perception of our bodies and how we 'should' look to be considered acceptable," Dunn said. "This can lead some people down a slippery slope and put them at risk for an eating disorder as they strive for an unattainable image of beauty." The organizations hope that parents of children who pick up comics featuring superheroes like Psylocke will use this series as a talking point.
"We hope our project will raise awareness about these unrealistic body images and encourage parents to have a conversation with their children," Dunn said. The edits made to Rogue and others are meant to point out the most common features used in comic-book illustrations.
"When seen through a more realistic lens, the stick-thin thighs and visible rib cages vanish from the women, while the men's exaggerated V-shaped upper bodies are cut down to a more reasonable size," reads the description on Bulimia.com's post. The team behind the images thinks the superheroes would make for even better role models if they had less "impossible" physiques.
"If these characters had a figure more like that of the average person, perhaps more people could look up to their favorite superhero without feeling the need to emulate an impossible physique," the team wrote. The team behind the series urge those who struggle with eating disorders and body-image issues to reach out for help.
"We know that the majority of people searching for help begin online," Dunn told INSIDER. "That's why American Addiction Centers offers several resource sites, including Bulimia.com and Recovery.org, where the public can access valuable content to help them make more informed decisions about their health and healthcare."