Thinking a bit about how I draw people’s bodies. This is in part due to Hugh Hefner’s recent passing and the discussion of Joss Whedon’s infidelities I’ve been reconsidering how much of a cultural influence there is in the way we view body ideals. There’s are numerous articles about Hefner’s contributions to our culture, probably both positive and negative. The point about Hefner is that you cannot deny the influence.
In a similar way to how I’ve been reconsidering human relationship ideals, I’ve reevaluated how much of my view of body image is shaped by a cultural expectation. In relationships, we are conditioned towards a heterosexual pairing as being the ideal, which makes it much harder to do real critical thought about them. We also normalize a number of toxic habits that do considerably more harm than good. There’s a quote I read from the comic Sex Criminals issue #20 the other day. It goes, “Wanting is sexy. Wanting is sex. I like being wanted. Needing is… needy and gross and sad. Needy is never about someone else.” I like that quote if only because my feeling is that it fits the point I’ve tried to make about the self-destructive tendencies of normalizing toxic habits.
Same thing with body image. How much have we normalized toxic and damaging trends with our bodies? Personally, I do think we get very self-destructive in trying to meet the conditioned standards. While I don’t necessarily have a grandiose plan for drawing people in Order of the Dragon–Nosferatu and the other characters so far have been fairly typical to this point–I have tried to draw a variety of body types going forward. And faces. The idea of being happy with who you are is vital, but health should be emphasized as well. I admit I admire the discipline and dedication to health and conditioning. Someone who doesn’t work out isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker for me, but it is damn close. And that might be conditioning in itself.
The letter that Joss Whedon’s ex-wife wrote reaffirmed a point about trying to address these issues. As a guy, I tend to be very wary of calling myself a feminist. I agree with a lot of feminist ideas, but it can be very easy for that to be a situation where people at least perceive you’re taking advantage. While my stories feature women in leading roles–albeit with fluidity in their gender and sex–I try not to think much of it, if only because it could easily be a distraction.