My name is Kaitlyn, and I am a well-endowed woman. I figured we should get that out of the way quickly, since this is an article about breasts — the boob armor phenomenon, to be specific.
In the last year, I’ve been trying to get in better shape, and took up running. While I’ve fallen behind in my training in recent months, I do compete in nerd-themed 5k races. Here is me holding up my metal from a Harry Potter run last year.
When I run, I have to wear two sports bras, because running is otherwise extremely painful. It’s like getting punched in the chest every time you try to go anywhere. It’s an unpleasant experience that I wouldn’t recommend to anyone. I know lots of women who have to wear multiple sports bras to get anywhere close to comfortable while running. It’s very hard to get anything physical done when your boobs are defying gravity and trying to give you a black eye.
This week, Evangeline Lilly offered up a first-look picture at her outfit for Ant-Man and the Wasp.
The costume has two little boob-shaped cutouts so we know that there’s a lady in there — because clearly there was no other possible way we could distinguish that.
Here’s Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie in the upcoming Thor: Ragnarok.
More of the boob armor. And it’s not just Marvel that is guilty of this. Wonder Woman was a fantastic movie, but watching it was uncomfortable at times because of some of the outfits.
Those are just some recent examples, but look at nearly any fantasy movie with female fighters, and you’ll see women walking around in boob armor. It is utterly ridiculous, and it’s a trope that Hollywood very much needs to retire. And here’s why: there’s no practical value in it.
In practice, boob armor draws attention to the chest area, where you are vulnerable. Back in 2013, TOR.com has a great take down of why the boob armor would likely get our warrior maidens killed:
“Let’s say you even fall onto your boob-conscious armor. The divet separating each breast will dig into your chest, doing you injury. It might even break your breastbone. With a strong enough blow to the chest, it could fracture your sternum entirely, destroying your heart and lungs, instantly killing you. It is literally a death trap—you are wearing armor that acts as a perpetual spear directed at some of your most vulnerable body parts. It’s just not smart.”
“Not smart” might be an understatement.
That being said, as author Emily Asher-Perrin points out, there should be a different between male and female armor, because we are shaped differently:
“That’s not to say that female armor cannot be shaped differently—in fact, it should be to account for differences in shoulder-to-waist ratios and more, as the military recently discovered.”
But that doesn’t mean women need to walk around with two boob cups in their armor. It’s distracting, uncomfortable, and impractical. We want more women warriors on our screens, absolutely, but this trend is one that really needs to stop. If half of your audience is women, then there’s a good chance half of your audience will be wincing whenever these ladies start fighting.
There have been some female characters that have practical armor, though. One doesn’t need to look any further than Games of Thrones to find one in Gwendoline Christie as Brienne of Tarth.
While not a very well-received movie, Snow White and the Huntsman put their lead in nice, practical armor.
Even Tim Burton‘s Alice in Wonderland gave Mia Wasikowski as Alice some practical armor.
Before you ask what women were supposed to do in armor if they didn’t have bras — in the real world, bras date back to the 1400s, but in a fantasy world, there’s a really easy way around that: make one up. It’s a fantasy world; if there is magic and dragons, the women there have come up with some way to hold up their breasts.
The genre movie doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon. There are going to be superheroes and fantasy for decades now, so let’s move beyond this aesthetic choice. It’s tacky, it doesn’t make sense, and it’s distracting to your audience — but not in the way you think. There are other ways to distinguish your female warriors from their male counterparts that isn’t painting a homing beacon on their boobs.