Fat: Attractive Women

[Content Note: Fat Hatred, Ableism]

This drawing guide for comic characters made me sad. 
With male characters, you can mold their bodies into many different shapes, producing a range of cool characters. It's not so easy with women. Women in comics are, by and large, attractive, even the villainesses - especially the villainesses! [...] You can't draw women brutish, or you lose the attractiveness.

Sometimes I forget that I live in a happy feminist blog bubble. Sometimes I leave my blog bubble, go out into the big wide world, look around me with my wide naive eyes, and then scuttle back into my bubble to safely play in my safe-space sandboxes.

Bring on the brutish women. Bring on the women with disabled bodies. Bring on women who are fat, who are asymmetrical, whose breasts are too big or too small but never "just right" (however the industry defines that). They may not be mainstream-sexy, but I think their bodies are wonderful.

71 comments:

CleverNamePending said...

I struggle to read American super hero comics for this reason. I like super hero comics, I really do, but the constant bombardment of women who are all shaped the same and meant to look semi-realistic and move in ways that just LOOKING at hurts my spine... Can't do it. Hurts my back too much. Sooner or later I try to mimic the poses and no, just, ow.

Anna said...

Because I just saw the MOST AWESOME THING on the internet, and because it seems the sort of thing that people here would appreciate, I'll add "bring on the women with facial hair" and leave this link: http://jezebel.com/5946643/reddit-users-attempt-to-shame-sikh-woman-get-righteously-schooled?post=53001116 Go read it and your heart will be warmed.

Will Wildman said...

Every aspect of that thing makes me sad. There's the obvious sexism. There's the fat hatred, designed either for men (who get to choose between 'jolly' and 'gluttonous villain') or women (verboten). There's the fundamental idea that we can and should be able to figure out someone's characterisation and specific qualities/flaws at first glance. There's the explicit statement that since women basically all have to look exactly the same, their characterisation comes down to innocently clasping their hands (virtuous blondes) or putting them on their hips and looking unimpressed (RAW EVIL).

...There's the way Average Joe's nipples have been displaced to his shoulders like the drifting eyes of a flatfish.

On a more cheerful note, I ran into this link roundup by Desiree/Turtle, called "Gee, I don't know how to research writing characters of color tastefully". Some links are broken, but many lead to great articles with perspectives on (mostly racial) diversity in fiction and how important it is and how much easier it can be than it might first seem if one is fraught with anxiety (as I often am). I suspect a lot of folks here will enjoy them.

JonathanPelikan said...

"Sometimes I forget that I live in a happy feminist blog bubble. Sometimes I leave my blog bubble, go out into the big wide world, look around me with my wide naive eyes, and then scuttle back into my bubble to safely play in my safe-space sandboxes. "

Yep. For extra fun*, try Doing the Right Thing and Going Over To Give Your Opponents A Fair Chance To Change Your Mind. (Centrist / Right-wing media is sometimes great* for this!) Maybe your opinion on your own existence and human rights and mind being valid will get turned around; you never know. If not, How Do You Know You Aren't Just Like Them?

._.

Nothing really to add to the conversation here, Ana, but a 'fuck yeah' and 'right on'. I don't comment as much as I used to I guess, but I'm still around.


-
*not fun
**always the worst

Ana Mardoll said...

Thank you. I will study these.

A persistent monkey on my back right now is the novel I am semi-writing. I wanted to have four protagonists from different cultures and ethnicities, because I am tired of everyone in fictionland being white. However! A major problem is that I am rapidly becoming paralyzed with concern that I will ultimately have a finished product that is offensive to someone. If 20 people tell me I nailed a character but 1 person says it's not true to life and comes off as appropriation, I take that one to heart and feel like the work is ruined and worthless.

The easy pat answer to this is, I have found, "research more! edit harder!". But this ignores the underlying fact that the final product will be offensive to someone, somewhere. I can't get past that, and it's causing me a lot of problems. I'm honestly not sure if the better thing to do is just change everyone to white, or possibly, "non-descript".

Except that "non-descript" is what I was already kind of trying to do; the girls' ethnicity really only comes out in little bits, like their last names, and fleeting references to religious or cultural differences. I didn't want to make A Very Special Episode and focus on ethnicity, culture, religion, etc. more than I would have with white protagonists, but I know that for some readers that can and will come off as appropriation.

I do not know the answer to these things.

Isator Levi said...

I'm hoping that my favourite roleplaying game may be better at this in future (a hope that seems to have some good foundations).

I'd say it's already better than most.

This reminds me of how a comic book artist once put up pictures from a recent book of photos of athletes from a wide range of disciplines, depicting the massive variety in male and female body types in the physically active.

Will Wildman said...

Yeah, like I said in the original post, a number are broken, but a lot are not, and they've got some great stuff there.

While there's obviously a big difference between writing PoC in a fantasy or SF setting and writing in a modern setting, judging by dozens or hundreds of people commenting on those posts, there is a whole lot of support for increased representation of diversity even if you don't have absolute 100% personal experience being every race ever. Justine Larbalestier is in those links, and you might especially be bolstered by her post on "Why My Protags Aren't White" (even though she is).

There is, from the evidence of that roundup, a very strong pushback against the idea of everyone being white or trying not to describe race at all. Or as stated in point #2 in this post by Nicola Richardson, who is African-American: "White writers who write characters of color will NEVER satisfy everybody. It is impossible. So don't even worry about that."

Ana Mardoll said...

Oh, you did say so. I missed that, I'm sorry.

I think Richardson is right, but it's a difficult position to be in as a writer. Not writing characters of color contributes to overall oppression and reinforcement of white privilege, but writing characters of color 'incorrectly' seems to have the potential for more direct harm. Ah, well, we live and learn and try, I guess.

Silver Adept said...

...sigh. The writer there has not taken into account that most people find different body types sexy. Including the brutish ones. More to the point, I suggest a healthy diet of Warren Ellis to see many different ways that women can be that does not insist that they be conventionally drawn. (FreakAngels and Transmetropolitan, especially.)

Sometimes you want to shout Argelfaster at that idea and wish that the magic word would work. (And then have a happy dance with anyone who gets the reference.)

Susan Beckhardt said...

The fact is of course that we all have different things that we find sexy, not sexy, or depends-on-contexty. Like you, Ana, I think I live in this world where we all recognize this (fairly obvious) fact, and I am occasionally gobsmacked to find someone who still clings to this relic of an outmoded belief system that there is some objective standard of Beauty. Really? In the 21st century?


@Silver Adept
Or if you're doing it the old-fashioned way, don't forget the lemon juice!

depizan said...

*bookmarks link roundup* That could come in very hand when I decide to start working on my own stuff. As I'm currently writing in an existing sandbox my main current problem is figuring out how the hell to describe characters of color. I suck at describing people anyway, but add in the problem of trying to convey Asian features in a universe that lacks an Asia and I'm pretty much left banging my forehead on my desk and wishing I could just draw illustrations.

depizan said...

And scars. We can't forget scars.

If guys get to be awesome and scarred, so do women.

Silver Adept said...

@Susan Beckhardt - Yay! Happy Dance!

There's probably a Small World problem you could work out - how many people does it take before someone in the group can make an obscure reference and someone else will get it?

@depizan - And not the kind that are there as beauty marks or to be the token weakness, either. The kind that are there as marks of life.

depizan said...

I'm...not actually sure I know what you mean.

Aidan Bird said...

@Will: I was just looking for these! I wanted to share these links with some fellow writers, but couldn't find them... apparently I forgot to bookmark them the first time. Thank you.

One of my main problems is describing skin color. I go the route of describing everyone's skin color no matter what their race is. In my eyes, I either describe them all or I don't describe any. Except.... I really don't want to use food/drink items as colors. Why is coffee, chocolate, cinnamon used so often? Is there any other colors for various shades of brown that isn't associated with food? In all my research thus far, this seems to be a fairly large frustration for people - the use of food items as colors.

Writing various body types is sometimes challenging as well also due to the lack of words available. I feel like we're limited on good words that don't hold terribly negative associations.

I'm also creating characters with disabilities, which will appear in some upcoming stories I have planned. This is the hardest for me, because the only disabilities that I have significant knowledge is the one's my brothers have - both are mental disabilities. I also have a friend with a learning disability, and she kindly provided me with an overload of great links. However, I know very little about physical disabilities, and researching for it is a challenge. So I'm learning.

Silver Adept said...

Sorry. I think I read our watched a story or two where the scars were there only to be "oh, she had a perfect face but for this one blemish here" or "she's perfect in every way but she's scared and that means nobody wants her!" Rather than someone appreciating the scars and the stories that go with them.

depizan said...

I thought that might have been it, but wasn't sure.

Definitely with you there. It's particularly silly when fiction has people "horribly scarred" when they've got a scratch or two. (This even happens with guys sometimes.)

Ana Mardoll said...

There's even a trope for that!

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/GoodScarsEvilScars

Smilodon said...

I don't think that I ever mentioned this on your original thread about PACT, but when it comes to the Jewish atheist character - the biggest part of being a Jewish atheist, to me, is that religion is no longer a big deal. I'm defined a lot more by being one of the most liberal people in my office than by being raised in a faith that isn't shared by anyone in my office. A lot of people are just people, and if in a group of 21 people you capture an experiance that speaks to 20 of them, I think you've done pretty well. And while ignoring criticism is pretty much impossible, try not to?

When it comes to narrow things that it would be easy to screw up (the Jewish girl is having friends over for dinner, what do they eat and how much food is served?) your readers will catch if you make a mistake anyway. I just think it's more important to write people who are people.

Smilodon said...

I really like Mistborn's route of not describing skin colour for anyone. There's a lot of discrimination, but since a major plot point is that you can't visually identify a person who's half noble-half ska, they don't relate the discrimination to looks. Which I like. I sometimes wonder if the Terracepeople are supposed to look physically different, or if they just have body modifications that make them stand out, but I think I'm happy having a book about the evils of discrimination that doesn't relate the fantasy-world-discrimination to one specific kind of real-life-discrimination.

I dislike all visual description, however, so I am the worst judge.

Will Wildman said...

I didn't notice that Mistborn was that vague about it - on reflection I have the general impression that most people, both nobles and skaa, are a vague blended tan like taking every skin tone in the world and blending them together (which would make sense for plot reasons) with the exception of the Terracepeople being somewhat redder/browner.

I think there's a degree to which discrimination is related to looks, in that if someone is ash-stained or sun-tanned they're easy to pick out as skaa, but that's classism rather than racism, of the familiar sort seen in lots of Earth cultures with indoor nobility and an agricultural class.

---

Another question: to what extent do folks think fantasy counterpart cultures and racial identifiers need to match up? In the Discworld novel Interesting Times, we've got the five ruling families of the obviously-Chinese-based Agatean Empire: Hong, Tang, Fang, Sung, and McSweeney. This being Discworld, it's never explained exactly how McSweeney got in there, but it's a bump in the general expectation that if someone in a non-Earth world has physical features associated with China, their name and their culture and such will also all be Chinese-flavoured to some extent. And generally speaking, someone named Tiffany is probably not an ancestor-worshipping jungle nomad, and Chukwuemeka is more likely to hail from a small village than a sprawling steam-revolution metropolis. Is this the best way of doing things? Am I imagining things if I think that this has a certain amount of racial essentialism in it?

depizan said...

The problem with not describing skin tone is that most people will then assume all the characters are white. Which is why I'd really like to get across that one character is kind of brownish and another has kind of Asian features. (Though I may be stuck with the really stereotypical "almond shaped eyes" there for lack of anything else. *sigh*)

I mean, if you have a world or place where everyone is clearly of color then it's probably irrelevant to then describe skin tone, but barring that...

Ana Mardoll said...

Poked at here, where the point is made that "Japanese name" does not equal Japanese everything:

http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0209.html

I think it's a fraught issue. If you give a white character a "cool" name like, making this up on the fly, Sayuri Sakamoto, is that appropriation or world-building without boundaries? I tend to like the latter -- having a McSweeney in the above tickles me enormously, actually -- but I'm not sure that everyone would agree with me without reservation.

Ana Mardoll said...

This. It was so hard to describe my fat character in Pulchritude, because there are very few value neutral fat words.

This won't help city folks like me, but what's the verdict on using tree colors to describe skin instead of food? There are a lot of variances among trees, I think.

Divya Jagadeesan said...

Thank you for those links. I managed to find a post there called "I didn't dream of Dragons" written by Deepa D and found myself blown away at how accurately the post describes my own experiences. As a privileged Indian growing up in India reading almost exclusively Enid Blyton, Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew, that post spoke so much to me. I am more thankful now for the few Indian children's books that I read from authors that I don't even remember. I almost cried when she mentioned that she was a Tolkien fan who searched for herself in the unmapped lands of the East. That resonated so much with me. Off to read Deepa D's entire livejournal now. Thanks again Will Wildman and Ana for helping us find these resources.

Lonespark said...

Wow, that is an interesting point, Will. I read a lot of fantasy with invented cultures and languages, but I also love scifi where there are ties to Earth cultures... I feel like you should pick one of those approaches rather than mixing and matching, but the question of Earth culture influence or resonance is all twisty and spiky.

I've read three series lately that I thought did a good job with three different approaches to this, but I don't know that I'm really in a position to judge.

In N. K. Jemisin's Inheritance Trilogy (The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, The Broken Kingdoms, The Kingdom of Gods) the world is not our planet and I'm not clear if the universe is our universe in some sense, or not. The cultures and languages are made up, but they have mythic and cultural influences from different Earth cultures. I think it's incredibly well done. The effect is to have slightly familiar things (stone cities in high mountains with pyramid temples, white people with a barbarian past who subjugate the world through superior technology, slavery, patriarchy as an imposed norm, nationalism in tribal warrior societies in the shadow of a crumbling empire, etc.) while having complex, dynamic characters in complex, dynamic cultures, none of which map onto our world. (Gah, I picked things to put in parenthesis that are present in the books, but I feel like they give no sense at all of the world. Because Gods and godlings and scriveners and the God's War and...Well, you should read it and get back to me, that's all.)

In Alaya Dawn Johnson's Spirit Binders series, (Racing the Dark, The Burning City, and hopefully more to come) I'm pretty sure the world is not our planet but it's not clear to me how different the mythology and language from Earth cultures. I think it's made up but based/related to Pacific Island myths and such? And I don't know about the language; I get the impression it might be like AtLA, where the names and words are real words in Earth languages but remixed and redistributed to be Pan-PI the way AtLA world is Pan(Mostly mainland + Japan)-Asian. Anyway those books are fantastic. One of the things that really impressed me is the way the story shows how, over a thousand years, different cultures have conquered each other and been considered civilized vs. barbarian depending where the locus of power was. (And there's a whole plot with The Weapons Technology Our Ancestors Destroyed For Peace. But because of the setting it's bows and arrows. And everywhere is an island, so climate events have a huge effect on the plot.)

In Tobias Buckell's series that doesn't appear to have an official so name so let's go with Carribean Space Trio (Crystal Rain, Ragamuffin, and Sly Mongoose, which I have yet to read), the human cultures are from Earth and influenced by the specific Earth regions their founders came from. The main culture in the first two is Caribbean (Pan-Carribean? I don't know enough to say) and there's also an Aztec-influenced culture but they've been messed with more intensely by aliens. Then there are aliens, which are not humanoid, but where they related to humans they seem to usurp and manipulate the human cultures rather than eradicate them. They are f***ing nifty books.

It seems to me that works best is kind of "write what you know, with diversity, in space etc." You know your own culture or cultures, so it will be easiest to write from that perspective, or mess around with that as a basis to create a new world. But there's no reason to feature characters and perspectives of the most normalized and priveleged people in that culture. So don't.

Or, this:
http://www.cynthiaward.com/Writing_The_Other.html

Ana Mardoll said...

Speaking of fat women, this is the most AWESOME THING IN THE WORLD:

http://www.shakesville.com/2012/10/today-in-fat-hatredand-fighting-back.html

Isator Levi said...

Oh, that's nice.

MaryKaye said...

A handful of ideas for describing skin colors:

Wood terms: mahogany, oak, maple, birch, ebony, teak, sandalwood
Paint/earth colors: ochre, umber, sienna, porcelain (but not "clay" unless you add some hint as to whether you mean white, gray, red or brown!)
Metal colors: bronze, copper, gold

With a lot more effort, you could develop a culture-specific set of skin-color metaphors. I made a poke at animal references but it's hard for them not to read as value judgements. (I am, myself, a pig-skinned person--fair and blotchy--but it can hardly help but sound perjorative.) You could try times of day/night: people with dawn complexions, noontide complexions, midnight complexions. You could do what's often done with animal colors in English and use pure-color words in an extended sense, but when I try that one it also sounds funny because we already do that for "black" and "white" (and "red", which is even more strained--I was an adult before it dawned on me that the only people who are literally red are sunburned people).

And boy, as soon as you try to do this, you will hit immense tangles of value judgements--like the use of "fair" to mean both "pale" and "pretty".

Will Wildman said...

I've been leaning towards the use of wood colours lately, although 'mahogany' is probably approaching the Cliche Threshold.

I finally realised that the colour I've been picturing my main character is a shade of taupe, and have progressed to trying to work out two other characters' colours since the sorting of ethnicities has left me imagining one kid darker than both of his parents. (It's important that he not be adopted, or else that'd be solved easily, so I'm instead having to shift mental images, which is a chore.)

muscipula said...

I think McSweeney works rather well on a few levels. There's the obvious joke from its incongruity, but it's also a nice pointer against the supposed purity and isolation of the Agatean culture, or of cultures in general. It speaks against the convenient fiction that [insert nation here] has a homogeneous uncorrupted history and a uniform national character. Pratchett is very solid on the real conflicts not being between nations or races or species, but between good people and bad; and the baddies tend to be the ones who reduce people to groups and set the groups against each other.

Aidan Bird said...

I just saw that video! It was so incredibly amazing! I had to go share it with everyone I knew.

In response to your question, wood colors doesn't get as much flak as food/drink colors. At least from what I've researched thus far. There's a lot of reminders out there to describe all characters, and to not just describe people of color.

One person told me that a good way to deal with description is to relate skin color in a way that reveals something about the character and the world they inhabit. For example, say your character loves gardens, and there's this special soil that has a certain color that reminds them strongly of their friend (or lover or sibling or whoever). You can slip it in that way. Or the character likes to craft things, and so is making a carving of the person they love, and so choose bark to match their appearance, making it easier to paint. Or they go to a far away city and realize they don't quite fit in and that they look quite different from most people there. Or something like that. I like that idea, though it still means having to deal with how to name skin colors.

Here's the links I have: http://www.mitaliblog.com/2012/05/tips-on-writing-race-from-teen-writer.html
http://www.writermag.com/Articles/2010/09/The%20importance%20of%20inclusionary%20writing.aspx
http://marionsipe.blogspot.com/2010/10/describing-skin-tone.html

And this: http://www.sfwa.org/2009/12/transracial-writing-for-the-sincere/
The author of this blog post wrote "Writing the Other" which I've been saving up money to buy so I can read it in full. It has lots of rave reviews about being a great book for those wanting to tackle race (I've heard that it covers gender, orientation, and a few other topics as well). Here's the link in case you'd like to read it too: http://www.aqueductpress.com/books/WritingTheOther-Vol8.html

Pqw said...

I was all excited, reading this thread, thinking, 'I've got a thing that no one has mentioned yet! And then . . . Aidan Bird mentioned it.

Well, anyway, I've ordered a book called "Writing the Other", that hasn't arrived yet. I'm looking forward to learning something about writing about people who aren't exactly like me.

@Lonespark, I'm pretty sure N K Jemisin says something at the end of the 3rd book that indicates that the universe of the Inheritance Trilogy is NOT ours.

redsixwing said...

This sent me off on an epic link-dive on writing characters of color, and I am struck by the many excellent descriptions I've found, and also the many epic pieces of writing taking apart negative examples. Given I have a large project in the research stages which will involve characters of color (one of them being the protagonist, so I can't really afford to goof her up, or I'll throw the whole thing -) this is awesomesauce.

Also liking the wood-tone thing. I am generally parchment-colored, which could also be reflected by ash or (at least the local) pine, but pine seems to vary in color depending on where it lived and what kind of pine it was, so I don't know if that makes a good marker over all. "Ashen" also connotes a very different color when applied to skin, but with a lick of description, could be pressed into service.

I am a person who loves a good visual description, so this is very relevant to my interests. :D Those people who spend hours poring over what Elrond wore to breakfast? I'm one of them.

Also on the subject of characters of color, I need to find out the troublesome tropes related to women of color, specifically Japanese, so's I can avoid them. -_-;;

Will Wildman said...

I ran into the question of describing East Asian women on the NaNoWriMo forums. Rule 1: Neither she nor anyone she knows is 'inscrutable'.

redsixwing said...

Seems like a great start. ^^ Being the protagonist, she had better be pretty darn scrutable, or there will be a problem. XD

Also, not submissive. The plot revolves around her force of will in holding back a mind-whammying Bad Thing, so that would be directly counter-productive.

I dove into Google, and now I need brain bleach. Bluh. I am at least getting a better idea of what not to do.

I should follow my own advice and join one of those writers' forum things, and ask for help in scrubbing the tropes off my main quartet. ^^;

Will Wildman said...

I'm pretty sure 'describing/writing characters who don't share all of your demographics' is the main rail now. =)

The main thing that I have yet to encounter any good answer to is describing 'Asian' eye shapes neutrally. Stuff like 'almond-shaped' is becoming eyerollworthy, and that's at the better end of standard options.

depizan said...

Yeah. If you find any good options, please let me know. I sure haven't.

Asha said...

Has anyone here read Meredith Ann Pierce's Darkangel Trilogy? It is a space fantasy set on the moon, and the main protagonist is mauve with green hair. There are people of different colors like green, gold, blue, or dun. It's a fun and weird series that has, for me, a lot of parallels to Twilight in how the main heroine falls immediately for a vampire. Yet how she deals with the situation itself is very, very different.
...
I need to dig this out now. The language is weird and wonderful and I miss it.

redsixwing said...

@Asha, that book sounds -awesome.-

@Will, thanks. :)

One of my favorite books describes a character's eyes as having a distinct epicanthic fold, which I promptly had to look up, but that was the only cue that she had that particular eye shape. It also didn't describe the main character hardly at all (a whole trilogy later, I still don't know what color his hair was, only that it was kept short, and he had a beard and a serious case of sunburn through most of it, so I suspect he was whitey-mc-whitepants, but seriously what color is Damien's dang hair) and later described a character as having an "aged bronze" skin tone, and also being "magnificent, commanding, driven" and other adjectives describing his intense personal charisma and social power. (Spoilers: he rocked.)

I sort of want to draw that character, because he gained all the levels was particularly cool, but I've never actually sat down and done it. =/

Asha said...

The Darkangel is the name of the first book. Honestly, the first story is, in my opinion, the weakest but it sets the stage for the second two which are much much better. A Gathering of Gargoyles and The Pearl of the Soul of the World are far more epic in scope and gives you the story AFTER the epic "Love Redeems" tale, and it does not have a classically happy ending but one that I, happy ending junkie that I am, was still satisfied with. The sci-fi elements are easy to overlook, but they add a unique flavor to the setting when you realize all their implications.

Brin Bellway said...

One of my favorite books describes a character's eyes as having a distinct epicanthic fold, which I promptly had to look up, but that was the only cue that she had that particular eye shape.

I was going to mention that as an idea, but then I figured the hypothetical readers would probably have to look it up and all of the obvious (at least to me) places to look it up include the word "Mongoloid", which, who even says that anymore. So maybe it wouldn't actually work out in the end.

(Thinking along similar lines, I realise I can't think of any skin-colour descriptions that frame it in terms of melanin level. Surely there must be some.)

depizan said...

Oh dear.

Though my dictionary merely describes it, so maybe that's not a completely oh dear idea.

Rakka said...

"aged bronze"
So... green? (Yeah, I can see the writer meant something like dark browinsh with reddish tint but... )

Will Wildman said...

I've since been informed that on East Asian TV (shows produced in Japan, Korea, Taiwan, maybe elsewhere) the terms 'double-eyelid' and 'single-eyelid' are commonly used to compare. That may be a start (although there's the questions of 1) whether English-speakers will pick up on the meaning and 2) whether it actually fully describes the shape or just reduces it to a single common quality).

I read Diana Wynne Jones' The Homeward Bounders years ago, and one of the characters was described as having folds in his eyelids. I think it was over a decade before I realised this was supposed to indicate that he was SFF-Asian. His being turned super blond on the cover helped nothing. (There were also magical symbols used that were much like kanji, but they weren't presented as being specific to his culture, so they mostly just sounded like standard runes.)

redsixwing said...

"Double eyelid" makes me think of a nictitating membrane, which... isn't accurate or useful at all. >.< But that may be just me, and my extensive involvement with creatures who actually -have- inner eyelids.

@Asha, thanks for the rec. :D Adding to the Library List!

@Rakka, lol, verdigris-green is definitely an "aged bronze" color, isn't it. Whoops! I was definitely thinking the "deep brown with red undertones" version.

Will Wildman said...

The copper in bronze does tend to go green over time, but depending on the alloy and the treatments and such, it can vary a lot. There are bronzeworks well over a thousand years old that are still some mix of brown/red/gold, or black, due to their treatment.

redsixwing said...

I am particularly fond of phosphor bronze - the stuff they use in ships' propellors and the like - because under normal jewelry-wear conditions, it stays bright basically forever, and has a similar tone to rose gold, which I like but can't afford.

But I can't rely on a reader to know the various subtle shades of assorted bronze alloys, probably.

Bleh, work today. >.< Isn't it the weekend yet?

Brin Bellway said...

Isn't it the weekend yet?

Actually it is, but the cost is I have to start again on Sunday.

Dav said...

the terms 'double-eyelid' and 'single-eyelid' are commonly used to compare.

From my very limited experience, that's not quite accurate. The students I knew used it within their group: some Asians have a double fold, some don't. You can get surgery or use an orange stick to create a fold, which is considered socially more attractive. So it's not exactly a value-free term, or one that is entirely descriptive.

Will Wildman said...

I'm curious what you mean by 'value-free'; I feel like there's something I'm missing. Blonde hair is supposedly more attractive in NA culture, but that doesn't mean that describing someone as blonde is a loaded term - am I misunderstanding what you mean?

Pqw said...

When using 'single eyelid' and 'double eyelid', which is which? I mean, my first thought, like redsixwing, was also 'nictitating membrane', which doesn't help me at all. If I'm the one who has 'double eyelids', how does that work?

Dav said...

Pqw: "Double" means there's an additional fold/crease above the eye. It's not easy to describe.
See here: http://abagond.wordpress.com/2010/07/21/asian-double-eyelid-surgery/

Will: Blonde hair is supposedly more attractive in NA culture, but that doesn't mean that describing someone as blonde is a loaded term - am I misunderstanding what you mean?

So I really, really don't want to pretend that I'm speaking for anyone besides myself here. I'm uncomfortable with the pressure that a lot of my students felt to get blepharoplasties done; that's no doubt coloring a lot of my feelings on the issue. Partly, I think it would create a false dichotomy in text, where single = Asian and double = not, even though it's more complicated than that. And partly, because it's using a marker that's becoming more and more about social and financial status as a racial mark (if I'm understanding the intent properly). Which makes me uncomfortable.

Yeah, hair color is a mark of social and financial status, but . . . not in the same way? I don't know. Let me think it over a bit and see if I can figure out whether the difference is degree (you don't need to get surgery to get blonde hair) or kind.

Rikalous said...

I know the conversation's shifted a bit from female body types in comics, but I thought y'all might enjoy this page of webcomic The Dreadful: http://www.nuklearpower.com/2012/09/10/the-dreadful-152/ , where the beefily intimidating Jeanne prepares to bring her fists to a gunfight.

JonathanPelikan said...

Someone asked me how to RP as male characters; she was having a problem that seems a bit common, especially out of professional writing and to just the casual/amateur levels, people being understandably not as comfortable writing outside their personal immediate experiences. She asked how I RPed female characters too ,given that I've never been female, to my knowledge.

My response was kind of simple; I said, "Well, look at your character and their condition and situation. What would a human being in that situation do? Welp."

It sounds rather simple, but it seemed like a bit of a perspective-shift, changing the problem from How Do I Write A Man In This Situation to How Do I Write A Person Who Is A Man etc. I dunno. I guess that's the point of most egalitarianism. 'oh wait, they're human too. huh. interesting.'

Also I write in fantastical or science-fictional settings, and one of the reasons is to be able to feature diversity as good while minimizing the risk of frakking up a real culture or ethnicity or whatnot.

(Once again I'd like to stress that the fact that you stress over hurting people is good and you're good, Ana.)

Will Wildman said...

My response was kind of simple; I said, "Well, look at your character and their condition and situation. What would a human being in that situation do? Welp."

It sounds rather simple, but it seemed like a bit of a perspective-shift, changing the problem from How Do I Write A Man In This Situation to How Do I Write A Person Who Is A Man etc. I dunno. I guess that's the point of most egalitarianism. 'oh wait, they're human too. huh. interesting.'


This comes up every single day on the NaNo forums; no exaggeration. The fractionally more elaborated answer that people tend to head towards after longer discussion is 'keep in mind that society will have been treating this character differently all their life depending on their gender, and that affects how you think and grow'.

Ana Mardoll said...

Yeah, I don't really like the pat answer of "just write humans". I get what the platitude is meant to convey, but it's more complicated than that.

I have no problem writing humans. But -- or so some people tell me -- my humans sometimes sound like they have white, wealthy, Protestant upbringings, which can be jarring when the text explicitly states that they didn't.

redsixwing said...

Thanks all; I have joined the NaNo forums under this same username. :)

Dav said...

the terms 'double-eyelid' and 'single-eyelid' are commonly used to compare.

From my very limited experience, that's not quite accurate. The students I knew used it within their group: some Asians have a double fold, some don't. You can get surgery or use an orange stick to create a fold, which is considered socially more attractive. So it's not exactly a value-free term, or one that is entirely descriptive.

Will Wildman said...

I'm curious what you mean by 'value-free'; I feel like there's something I'm missing. Blonde hair is supposedly more attractive in NA culture, but that doesn't mean that describing someone as blonde is a loaded term - am I misunderstanding what you mean?

Will Wildman said...

I've since been informed that on East Asian TV (shows produced in Japan, Korea, Taiwan, maybe elsewhere) the terms 'double-eyelid' and 'single-eyelid' are commonly used to compare. That may be a start (although there's the questions of 1) whether English-speakers will pick up on the meaning and 2) whether it actually fully describes the shape or just reduces it to a single common quality). [Edit to add: This is just one feature that is not universal to all Asian people, and shows up in a lot of human phenotypes that aren't categorised as Asian, so it's certainly not The Solution To Everything. Might have some use, though.]

I read Diana Wynne Jones' The Homeward Bounders years ago, and one of the characters was described as having folds in his eyelids. I think it was over a decade before I realised this was supposed to indicate that he was SFF-Asian. His being turned super blond on the cover helped nothing. (There were also magical symbols used that were much like kanji, but they weren't presented as being specific to his culture, so they mostly just sounded like standard runes.)

redsixwing said...

I am particularly fond of phosphor bronze - the stuff they use in ships' propellors and the like - because under normal jewelry-wear conditions, it stays bright basically forever, and has a similar tone to rose gold, which I like but can't afford.

But I can't rely on a reader to know the various subtle shades of assorted bronze alloys, probably.

Bleh, work today. >.< Isn't it the weekend yet?

Brin Bellway said...

Isn't it the weekend yet?

Actually it is, but the cost is I have to start again on Sunday.

Rakka said...

"aged bronze"
So... green? (Yeah, I can see the writer meant something like dark browinsh with reddish tint but... )

Will Wildman said...

The copper in bronze does tend to go green over time, but depending on the alloy and the treatments and such, it can vary a lot. There are bronzeworks well over a thousand years old that are still some mix of brown/red/gold, or black, due to their treatment.

redsixwing said...

"Double eyelid" makes me think of a nictitating membrane, which... isn't accurate or useful at all. >.< But that may be just me, and my extensive involvement with creatures who actually -have- inner eyelids.

@Asha, thanks for the rec. :D Adding to the Library List!

@Rakka, lol, verdigris-green is definitely an "aged bronze" color, isn't it. Whoops! I was definitely thinking the "deep brown with red undertones" version.

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