The Pressure Of Being Wonder Woman

One of my daughters once played the part of Wonder Woman in a humorous skit put on by our church youth group. This same daughter got on well with the popular girls in her middle school, and she relayed to me a revealing conversation she had with a couple of them. The word they used was “horrible” when they described the pressure of keeping up the right appearance – pressure to have their hair just right, their clothes just right, their conversation just right, their facial expressions, their skin… I think you get the idea.

wonder woman 1
Artist: Adam Hughes

You might wonder why I would choose this as a way to begin a post about the depiction of Wonder Woman by Adam Hughes. I think this will become evident later. Let me first say that I in no way mean to denigrate the work of this very talented illustrator. Here, for example, is his rendition of the first Wonder Woman cover ever done:

wonder woman 2

This is obviously clever and well executed, as are the following:

wonder woman 3

wonder woman 5


Here is a self portrait of the man himself.


In regard to my first paragraph, some of his images somehow strike me as glossier and perhaps more sexually overt than the work of Alex Ross. I won’t go so far as to call them objectionable because I respect the skill and imagination of the artist, and I like his work. But they do remind me more of the cultural stereotypes to which women are often pressured to conform in modern society.


By the way, and for those of you who were not aware, adherence to modern standards of appearance places a considerable amount of pressure on men to measure up as well. Stereotypes of attractiveness for men and women often distort the expectations of both sexes. This can have the effect of erecting barriers to healthier relationships, and I describe our current situation as isolation within association. We as individuals can choose to adopt more natural social standards that leave us and others feeling less threatened.


Without walking into the minefield of what is or is not appropriate when it comes to clothing, let me say that I do not criticize women who choose to conform to modern standards of appearance as long as this is what they genuinely like to do. Nothing else should be read into them at first glance. Rather, people should make the effort to get to know one another and to be more accepting. Reputations, good or bad, should be earned rather than conferred on the basis of surface impressions.


As a type of footnote to what I have said this week, consider the Venus de Milo:

venus de milo

For millenia, this was a standard for feminine beauty in western culture. I think a good many women resemble this sculpture in one way or another while feeling negatively self-conscious about how they look. I think we need to expand our definitions of beauty.

9 thoughts on “The Pressure Of Being Wonder Woman”

  1. When I was five years old, I got into trouble for finding and greatly enjoying, my uncle’s girly magazine stash that he had hidden under the front seat of his car.

    I think fit people who care for themselves have natural beauty.

    It’s a crying shame that age and mileage burn us all down to ash.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. To my shame, I must admit to having done the some with a friend’s father’s stash when I was a little older and knew better. I don’t want to live in a head like that again, and I much prefer the healthier way can I regard women now. It m find it much preferable to relate to them as people rather than objects. Take care.


  2. I actually have no idea what point you were trying to make here, although I was not offended by it or anything. I’m just confused. I do love Adam Hughes work, and its exactly because of the “glamourous” drawings that I like him. I’m gonna have to examine why that is at some later date.

    What little I did understand about this post I don’t think it goes far enough or deep enough as far as beauty issues with women. Although as a guy I dont really expect you to know those things anyway, or how this plays out as regards women of other races, becasue some of this is true for all women, some of it is true only for white women and for women of color things can be very very different.

    I did like the anecdote of the popular girls being pressured to have certain standards. I’ve known a lot of those types of girls and found many of them to be rather lonely individuals.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. As always, you have offered a thoughtful and challenging comment, and I hope my answer can do it justice. Before I get in too far, please keep in mind that I try to keep my individual posts brief enough that people will not be discouraged from reading them. I know I’ve only scratched the surface on the topic of feminine beauty and body image. It’s something that comes up a lot at the women’s college where I teach. I was not trying to be critical of Adam Hughes. I think his work is great and highly imaginative, but I just had this off the wall idea to use his art as a springboard for commenting on the intense cosmetic pressures women, and even men, are subjected to in American society. At my job, I’ve been blessed to know and speak with young women of various races and from various countries, and this has led me to believe that all women are capable of being beautiful but that we too often adhere to narrow and restrictive definitions of beauty. I remind my wife of this (she looks great to me) whenever she feels self-conscious about her appearance. Incidentally, my own daughters (now grown) are considered beautiful, and this has made it necessary for them to screen the motives of the men they have dated in the past. One of them even did a modeling shoot for a German magazine just to make some extra money while she was a poor art student in Johannesburg, South Africa. She was even offered a longer term job as a model, which she turned down. Thank you so much for your comment.

      Liked by 2 people

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