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Wonder Woman (Picture: Warner Bros.)

Razor burn

Wonder Woman’s lack of armpit hair sparks feminist debate

By Meredith Daugherty on March 23, 2017

Set to debut in theaters on June 2, the new Wonder Woman film will be the first female-centric superhero motion-picture to grace the big screen in some 12 years. The public has been endlessly teased with glimpses of the film, from the special first-look trailer released at Comic-Con, to a quick guest appearance by the Amazonian princess in Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice. All in all, we know relatively little about this modern embodiment of the Justice League’s only female member, other than she has some seriously powerful theme music.

With palpable excitement surrounding the film’s release, the latest trailer, which can be viewed below, has sparked new controversy. Through careful analysis, the internet has exposed a perhaps, not-so wonderful aspect of DC Comics’ newest incarnation of the classic, girl-power superheroine: She has no armpit hair.

While the moment lasts all of a millisecond — not to mention the reason we can see her armpits is because she’s throwing a truck over her head like a ragdoll —  it’s a millisecond that has set off a heated debate.

In the continual race for onscreen domination, it seemed that with the release of Wonder Woman, DC Comics had finally pulled ahead of Marvel Studios, which has yet to produce a superhero film with a female protagonist. But, as Refinery 29 pointed out in a scathing review of the new trailer, the lack of body hair on the female warrior makes us wonder if feminism was swept aside in favor of achieving the ideal female aesthetic. “It’s really hard to believe that Wonder Woman, who has been on an island filled with strong women her entire life, is worried about waxing and then bleaching her pits,” Refinery29 explained, “That is a time-consuming process and she’s a little too busy training ‘10 times harder’ with the Amazons so that she can, you know, save the world.”

Yes, it’s hard to argue that having been brought to life by Zeus and raised in a secluded sorority of warrior women, shaving would be high on the priority list for Wonder Woman. As Forbes pointed out, “In fact, one could venture that Wonder Woman’s armpits at the 1:47 mark represent the entire struggle with which a modern woman must grapple daily: I am woman, hear me roar, but so I don’t freak you the you-know-what out, let me take away everything I am so I can be everything you want me to be.”

While the fear that this new Wonder Woman is a false-feminist and yet another male-generated, unattainable beauty standard for a new generation of women, one cannot forget that as a comic book hero, Wonder Woman’s image has, like her male counterparts who often wear their underwear outside of their pants, always been highly stylized and more fantasy than reality.

Female superheroes are strong, capable and in most cases lethal, but they aren’t exactly known for having the anatomical proportions of the “average woman.” For some reason catsuits and modified leotards tend to come off better when you’ve got a figure that would make Barbie jealous. In a counterpoint to the argument, the National Review explains, “There is no room for debate about what Wonder Woman should and should not look like, because DC Comics already decided what she looks like when it created her in 1941.”

Superheroes are by their very nature romanticized versions of humanity. Even Gal Gadot, the Israeli-born actress who plays Wonder Woman, pointed out in an interview right after she landed the role and before the release of  Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice, that not only do superheroes set impossible physical standards, but in many cases they have no physical relationship to their mythological origins, making it somewhat of a moot-point to criticize an onscreen interpretation. “The true Amazons had one boob so it won’t bother them in their archery. So it’s not going to be like real Amazons. We always try to make everyone happy but we can’t.” After all who really knows? Maybe demigods are born without body hair; did we ever stop to consider that?

Watching the clip, one would think that another woman’s personal grooming choices shouldn’t be an issue of contention. Wonder Woman is an Amazonian warrior capable of saving the world but she is still a woman. Who really cares if she also owns a razor? What do you think? Vote in our poll below.

As the internet continues to try and lasso the truth out of the controversy, the most basic point of feminism remains that women have the right to choose choose how they present themselves to the world — armpit hair or no armpit hair. Watch the full trailer and decide for yourself here:

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