In October this year Wonder Woman was made an Honorary Ambassador for the Empowerment of Women and Girls, the symbol of a campaign aiming to highlight what we can collectively achieve if women and girls are empowered, shining a spotlight on women and girls who have made and are making a difference every day by overcoming barriers and beating the odds to reach their goals.
Now, in response to an online petition pointing to her clothing and breast size as a reason to strip the 75 year strong feminist icon of her honorary ambassadorship, Diana Prince has been removed from the campaign.
Wonder Woman was created 75 years ago. Although the original creators may have intended Wonder Woman to represent a strong and independent "warrior" woman with a feminist message, the reality is that the character's current iteration is that of a large breasted, white woman of impossible proportions, scantily clad in a shimmery, thigh-baring body suit.
This is the unfortunate takeaway the petition creators have of a character who has, for three quarters of a century, been a strong and progressive voice for women in comics, television, and now - finally - in movies.
Ignoring her message of compassion, humanity, equailty, inner strength, diplomacy and tolerance, Diana has been criticised for the very thing you'd be hoping the petition creators would want to protect women and girls from - judgement based on her looks, rather than her ability - right down to her breast size. And that's without mentioning the erasure of her ethnicity (as an inhabitant of Themyscira, Diana is technically indigenous, and depending on origin story, Greek).
The fact that Wonder Woman is a fictional character was also raised in the petition, ignoring the fact that honorary ambassadorships are created specifically for fictional characters, rather than taking the important existing ambassadorial roles created for real life women. Winnie the Pooh was an honorary ambassador for friendship in 1997, and Tinkerbell was honorary ambassador for "green", promoting environmental awareness in 2009.
Nicola Scott, an Australian comic artist who first started drawing Wonder Woman for DC Comics in 2010, sums it up beautifully.
Absolutely, real life women can and should hold roles for female empowerment and equality for the U.N. But the "honorary" embassador role is strictly created for fictional characters. Why can't we have both?
Fictional characters have the ability to cross boarders and boundaries that real people can't. They're universally accessible and can be reformed as needed.
Wonder Woman was created for female empowerment during WWII but these petitioners are fixating on a 70's or 90's version. 75 years of power and progress and they've reduced her to pretty lady in a bathing suit. Way to strip her of her power and position, just another woman who's lost her job.
I created the art for the U.N. with a full understanding of who she is and how much reach she has and what she means to millions of people. The purpose of this initiative was so incredibly positive, with the best of intentions and knowing how perfectly Diana fit into this role. Personally I find it a shame but I'm really disappointed we won't get the full roll out if the plan. Way to suck the potential fun and accessibility out of an important issue.