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“Realistic” Versions of Female Videogame Characters

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Bulimia.com, an eating disorder support group and info site, recently added their own contribution to the ongoing discussion of gender within the gaming industry – notably, how female characters are drawn. The idea was to promote a sense of realism, eliminating “impossible” body standards and pushing the “acceptance at any size” narrative that’s been making its way through the health community.

And you know, I’ve gotta say. The first problem with this article (and the one that’s been brought up frequently) is the fact that every character they fixed is a fighter of some sort.

“Some gaming studios boast their hyper-realistic lighting techniques, touting natural cloud movements as the latest features of their games,” the article stated. “And with that kind of attention to detail, it makes us wonder, why can’t they accurately portray the female body? For example, plus-sized women are a rarity in video games, and when one does show up, she’s typically unusual looking. More often it seems video games are home to ultra-slim waistlines only.”

Let’s look at a few of their “improvements”.

Christie’s fighting theme is based off of the Capoeira style of dancing. It typically involves a lot of jumping, kicking, and powerful sweeping movements of the legs and arms, which obviously would have required a great deal of exercise and training. There’s no way Christie would have that much body fat on her, especially around her middle, doing that kind of movement for a living.

Here’s another example of an “unrealistic” figure that’s apparently impossible to get. She doesn’t even have abs, just a well-kept body. Do the people at Bulimia.com just ignore the existence of gyms and jogging routines?

When you feel the need to use the 2003 version of Lara Croft to shame videogame artists for drawing skinny women because the 2014 version was already too realistic for you to properly bitch about, you’re doing something wrong with your life.

It’s Tomb Raider, for the love of God. It’s pretty self explanatory why she’s skinny and athletic. Now, granted, we weren’t as developed in terms of 3D art back in 2003, so she’s around the level of stick-thin as your average Disney princess. But to exaggerate the fat addition like that is a bit much.

Oh, Christ. There’s reaching, and then there’s this.

Yeah, sure. Let’s give her 50% more fat, bigger breasts, and what looks like a height adjustment, because as we’ve seen above, people who regularly partake in intense physical activity with athletic figures are Satan’s children. But to make sure you understand that, let’s enlarge her head, puff out her thighs, and zoom in to the point where she looks more like someone turned on Big Head mode in the game settings. I’m not too sure what they were trying to accomplish here by making her a chubby dwarf with no neck.

Honestly? This redesign looks so much better than the others.

She has a bit of stomach fat, yes. But it isn’t a full-blown beer gut as we saw in the others. I feel like they took a bit too much muscle away from her, but she still looks fairly similar to the original.

Let me just say that I’m not trying to demean or dismiss those who struggle with bulimia in any form or fashion. However, I do feel as if articles like these don’t really do much in terms of promoting body acceptance. You’re taking characters who lead extremely active lifestyles and making them look as if they’ve been couch potatoes for a few years, thus implying that losing weight and gaining muscle is a bad thing.

So, no – these aren’t “realistic” versions of female videogame characters. It isn’t even bulimia awareness. This is shameless (and unhealthy) pandering to the “beauty at every size” crowd, with an additional “fit people are the enemy” message tacked on at the very beginning.

Nice try, I guess?

About Deborah Crocker

Deborah is a 22 year old semi-hermit currently plodding through her senior year of college and getting her feet wet in game journalism. She has a somewhat unhealthy obsession with high fantasy, video games, novels, and Elder Scrolls. When she's not in front of a screen, she enjoys singing and a bit of beading. She's also currently on the hunt for the restaurant with the best cheeseburger.