Superheroes Don’t Wear Ponytails, and Yes, It’s Sexist

This Friday is the premiere of Avengers: Infinity War a movie so animated that it already has broken pre-sale records and is on track to become the biggest national box office opening in history. Combine characters from no less than 18 Marvel movies and 76 superheroes and absolutely dizzying side characters, from Black Panther to Iron Man. But one thing you will not see much? Hair ties

Which, for anyone with hair longer than shoulder-length shoulder that he played in a recreational football league as a child, seems crazy. Are not these people, like, fighting with each other? While doing jumps and jumps and those things? Even Violet Baudelaire, the protagonist of A series of unfortunate events, famously had to tie her hair with a ribbon in order to concentrate, which basically requires zero physical effort.

Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman.
Photo: Clay Enos / Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. / IMDB

Why not Black Widow, Gamora, Scarlet Witch and Mantis? And even superheroines beyond Infinity War, from Wonder Woman to Jessica Jones, Elektra, Storm and She-Hulk, it seems like it takes a second to throw her hair in a chic bun (or, more probably, a half-careless as we do the rest of us before an activity as simple as getting on the elliptical)?

The simplest answer is that comics are a visual medium, and a lot of long, undulating hair spinning in an already epic fight scene. very cool. Camille Friend, the head of the hair departments of Marvel Black Panther, Guardians of the Galaxy, vol. 2, and the next Captain Marvel starring Brie Larson, confirms that, at least, this is how Hollywood sees it.

"In the history of women superheroes in comic books, hair has always been elaborated and fluid," explains Friend. "When you see them in action or flying, you want to be able to see the hair moving freely with the hair in constant movement".

Melissa Benoist as Supergirl.
Photo: Warner Bros./IMDB

But there is a reason why we do not see many male superheroes with long hair to the waist so we can see all that fresh hair flying around. Christina Dokou, assistant professor of American literature and culture at the University of Athens, explains that the legacy of the comic books of the "children's club", in which the female characters were trapped with sexist stereotypes, still persists. "Even today, the physical attributes and female beauty of female superheroes are exaggerated to make them look, well, frankly, porn stars at worst, and sexy athletes at best," she said. says to Racked by email.

The hair, by By the way, not only is it impractical in combat, Dokou points out, but it would also have the effect of revealing one's secret identity, causing a lot of sweat and causing the character to suffer the unfortunate ones consequences of helmet hair.

Of course, comics are fun because are not real life. But even in the superhero universes, hair still has meaning. "Red or black hair is usually reserved for the strongest superheroine, or the one with the most extravagant personality, such as Phoenix, Red Sonja or Wonder Woman, while blondes are still treated as glorified bimbos, regardless of their powers," he explains. , pointing to Supergirl and Smallville as examples of the latter.

Above left: Moondragon; bottom left: Neonatal Teenage Warhead; medium: Tank Girl; Right: Phylla-Vell
Photos LR: Marvel Wikia, Wikipedia,, Marvel Wikia

Meanwhile, a shaved head often indicates a divine mental ability – thinking Deadpool Negasonic Teenage Warhead o Stranger Things & # 39; Eleven, but can also be a signifier of sexual preferences. Dokou points to Moondragon, a telepathic martial arts superhero from the 70s with a shaved head, who finally revealed himself bisexual after dating the extraterrestrial pixy cut Phylla-Vell. Then there's the punk anarcho bandit Tank Girl, known for his mostly shaved head, who inspired the weekly lesbian nights of "Tank Girl" in London.

"To put it briefly, the shorter the hair, the more precarious the character is in relation to traditional femininity," says Dokou. But he adds that in the last two decades, "comics and graphic novels seem more willing to experiment with color and length of hair (as gender identity metonymies), suggest [ing] a welcome, though still small, relaxation of gender fascism in favor of inclusion and equality. "

Letitia Wright as Shuri in Black Panther .
Photo: Marvel Studios / IMDB

For Black Panther, in which Each character had a natural hair, Camille Friend says that the hairstyles were based on the specific tribes of the characters and his position within Wakanda, from the shaved head of the special forces team member Okoye to the royal rastas of Queen Mother Ramonda. For the hyper intelligent and brave Shuri, "we made individual microbraids with four different colors because we wanted to have the ability to change their hair in many different aspects," says Friend. "We wanted to maintain its modern and fresh look."

Fortunately, we can see some of the hair diversity in Infinity War : Okoye, Shuri and Ramonda will appear in the film, and Tessa Thompson will also repeat her concert as Valkyrie from Thor: Ragnarok in which it sported a track of a ponytail. For the most part, however, it will be hard not to notice the abundance of long, flowing and wildly impractical hair in all the fighting scenes this Friday, which shows that even female superheroes have to deal with extra nonsense.

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