Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman Leaves Her Sexified '70s Counterpart in the Dust, & Thank Hera for That
Are the major physical differences between the 'Wonder Woman' of the '70s and the 'Wonder Woman' of today a sign of changing times?
Wonder Woman has been remade: de-curved, de-constricted, de-corseted, and altogether desexualized. Thanks in part to the 2017 film's director, Arrested Development's Patty Jenkins, gone are the days of DC's star Themysciran channeling a fashionable Instagram model more so than a dauntless hero. It's a bold move that shakes viewers back to reality, reenforcing the stone cold truth that strong women capable of great athletic feats can — and often do — have great, athletic appearances to match.
As the world progresses, society's germinating ache to see strong females in positions of leadership becomes more and more clear. In the case of Diana Prince, the transformation is especially obvious. Decades' worth of Wonder Woman illustrations have depicted multiple renditions of the hero, her varying physical appearances (and oh, do they vary) largely defined by the aesthetic ideals of that era.
In the mid-1970s, when actress Lynda Carter played the Amazonian heroine, a full face of makeup complemented a corset bursting with cleavage, what looked to be an 18-inch waist, and diminutive star-adorned shorts painted over slimming tan pantyhose. True to the point, this look reflected that of the ideal woman of that time. She had a thin yet buxom shape, prominent collar bones erupting from her petite frame, and voluminous Farrah Fawcett-inspired locks that shone every time she shifted her dainty neck.
Let's not misconstrue the point of this article: Carter had no influence over the costume choices and portrayal of her character at the time. This is not about bashing a beloved television character. Instead, let's note that of the 20-plus directors responsible for the show between 1975 and 1979, every one was male, and that in this chapter of modern culture, this aesthetic was a hot commodity for both men and women. It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. It was a time when a few pounds of muscle on a woman meant Hollywood didn't deign to take her calls. Stars like The Dukes of Hazzard's Catherine Bach, model Cheryl Tiegs (who, decades later, would publicly condemn plus-size model Ashley Graham as "unhealthy"), and style icon Twiggy had a look so hypnotizing, so industrially penetrating, that not even a demi-goddess was immune.
Bolstered by the homogenous shape of the most sought-after females in the industry, Carter's Wonder Woman was more a reflection of the "perfect female form" of the 1970s than a formidable Amazonian athlete.
Jet roughly four decades into the future, and a new heroine has emerged. While 2017's Wonder Woman, played by actress Gal Gadot, is indeed a gorgeous specimen, Jenkins made a statement the moment she cast her for the role. Gadot, a lean, athletic powerhouse, would not be the Diana of iterations past. She would move like a fighter. She would be intimidating, swift, and forceful, with demonstrable intelligence to boot. Most importantly, for perhaps the first time, Wonder Woman's outside would reflect her inside — no corsets, no man-made curves, and absolutely no constrictions. She genuinely looks like she can move in the way her mission requires.
As a matter of fact, Gadot gained 14 lbs. of muscle for the role, which she shared in the May 2017 issue of Marie Claire.
Jenkins (also known for directing Monster and The Killing) confirmed her intention for the new Wonder Woman during a March 2016 conversation with Entertainment Weekly, stressing that Gadot's heroine would have both "really long legs" and "fight badass." In 2017, Diana maintains the same ensemble the heroine has rocked in the past, with several notable alterations that whisper volumes: in place of a corset is her shiny, sturdy armor. Where heaving cleavage once drew the eye, a subtle change in design has now forced that eye elsewhere. Wonder Woman is still sexy, to be sure, but she is no longer sexualized. She has both real, tangible physical strength and beauty, and thanks to Jenkins, the package feels authentic.
The one exception? Those badass heeled boots — a fun, indulgent act of "wish fulfillment" in the director's eyes, and a fitting concession to the Wonder Women of years past, given that (as we know) strength itself neither equals nor necessitates masculinity.
Gadot's Wonder Woman is a sign of a new age, and a message to young and old ladies and lads alike: females are strong as hell — on the inside and out.
Thank Hera for that.