The other day, I was slouched on the couch, clearly in sloth mode. My daughter was in a nearby chair. Suddenly, an exciting commercial came on. It was a Reebok ad and it had a gaggle of uber athletic types doing great physical feats. Not to be outdone, I grabbed my daughter, hoisted her on my shoulders and began to prance around the house with her for several minutes. For the both of us, it was pure unadulterated and spontaneous fun.
It was also my way of letting my daughter know that her Daddy is still the Superman that she’s known all her life. Little does she know, Superman gets tired.
Recently, there has been a movement to create a superhero with more decidedly human and realistic qualities. (You can observe these images at the bottom of the page.) Also, you may have noticed that there’s a push for more diversity in comics, so they have converted many long-running heroes into people of color. I get it. The long standing hero is a white male, which rippling muscles and some spandex that goes all over the world saving a variety of things and people.
Yeah, it is totally unrealistic. And that’s a good thing. The good people over at Bulimia.com don’t agree with me and they use “average” people as their metric. They argue the following:
When it comes to accurate depictions of the human body, comic book heroes are hardly realistic. Whether they’re sprouting blades from their hands or surviving decades in a deep freeze, these characters regularly push the limits of what’s considered possible. But they also depart from realistic human anatomy in a more mundane sense: Almost none of them reflect the typical physique of most Americans.
Today, 33.7% of men and 36.5% of women in the U.S. are considered obese, and more than two-thirds are overweight.1 Weight gain has put millions of people at risk of heart disease, diabetes, and other preventable conditions.2 Meanwhile, comic books depict vastly different figures: men with massive biceps and shoulders and women with toned abs and tiny waists.
I understand that the folks at Bulimia.com abhor the sickness that causes people to binge eat and “purge” (throw-up) with the desire to maintain a thin physique. As bad as this is, I know not why they chose to attack America’s favorite super heroes. As unrealistic as they are, super heroes are aspirational for child, man and an ever-growing population of women. Furthermore, there is little emphasis on actually fitting the mold of these statuesque figures at comic book conventions held all over the nation.
My daughter and I have been to various Comic Con events for several years and not once has she been impacted in a negative way. It has been quite the opposite. I think it would be more of a detriment for her to strive for an “average” that comprises of obesity. Only time will tell how this plays out as she approaches the teenage years, but I believe music, Hollywood and printed imagery is impacts to kids’ self-awareness more than comics characters.
I’ve maintained that I love super hero characters because most of them (even the ones below) are deeply flawed if you delve beyond the surface muscle. Batman, for example, was a tortured soul that wrestled with the violent death of his parents. Iron Man (aka Tony Starks) is prone to overdo it with alcohol. Storm of the X-Men was a leader, queen and dealt with a myriad of personal issues as an orphan in Africa. There are lessons here for my child.
There are also lessons for fathers too.
It may seem silly, but I love to pretend to be a super hero and only part of it has to do with my daughter. In Frank Miller’s Dark Knight, the classic saga from the 1980’s, Batman is depicted as an older man in his mid-50’s. As he got older, Clark Kent maintained his strength and wits so awesomely that he nearly killed Superman.
As I envision the future, I see myself as a bit of a Dark Knight for my daughter and less Superman. After I picked her up, then put her down, I felt a ting of soreness (that I didn’t alert her to). The next day, I hit the gym hard, lifting weights and cardio. I’m even looking for a trainer to help hone the living super hero that lives within me.
So, Bulimia.com can miss me with those fat super heroes. They don’t exist. How is Batman going to fight crime out of shape and bloated? I love humans of all sizes and shapes and even in the super hero world they exist as such. Moreover, I am far from a mass of muscle, in fact, I may be overweight to some. If you strive to be super, even if you fall short of super…you will still be a hero.