Depictions of superheroes can shape kids’ body image in ways you’ve never imagined.
“The problem with superhero images is that they completely mesh with all the other images that are coming at kids. Whether it’s Victoria’s Secret, or Batman, or porn, there’s an underlying ideology that makes all of this a coherent narrative about what constitutes masculinity and what constitutes femininity. It’s the coherence that’s critical.”
An excerpt from the story:
Comic book characters are so influential and consequential because their images seem to have the superpower to bypass the frontal lobe of the brain, which controls important cognitive skills, like the ability to judge stimuli coming in as accurate. People are not able to access their executive functioning when interpreting images the same way they are when processing print media, which does not bypass the frontal lobe. So young people do not engage with them on a purely rational level so their strange proportions are more likely to be internalized than meaningfully scrutinized.
“The more consistent and coherent the message is to kids, the more likely they are to internalize that,” Dines says.
When boys grow up and can’t attract women with an hourglass shape, they’re more likely to blame themselves for not being triangular enough, and by extension, not masculine enough, compensate with violence and aggression, research shows. When girls can’t get the attention of triangular men, they’re more likely to look inward as well and blame their bodies. There’s evidence that this typically causes them to sex-sexualize and self-objectify more in order to assert their femininity.
Read the full story, “The Avengers Endgame for Kids Might Be Sexual Dysfunction.”