7 Badass Action Heroines with Completely Impractical Outfits

Posted on by Tasanee 'Taz' Hermans (lessthanthree)
URL for sharing: http://thisorth.at/1pzk
For a long time, being an action hero was an exclusively male profession. Little boys got to look forward to piloting all the spaceships, having all the adventures and ultimately saving the day, while girls had to be content with screaming a lot and being rescued.

Then, some feminists came along and ruined it all. "Give us strong female characters!" they cried, and the TV and movie execs had to oblige, since the little ladies were earning their own money now, and all that. Isn't that nice? Now girl-children can get out of the kitchen and start kicking some ass. Look at all these positive role models we have for them!

Well, maybe not...

Even the most cursory internet search throws up countless articles complaining about representation of women in media, and how it could be damaging young girls. One of the things that they focus on is the fact that it's not enough for action heroines to be strong, intelligent, and totally badass: they also have to have perfect hair and wear high heels while doing it. Video games are particularly guilty of this, since they seem to think that every gamer on the planet is a slavering 15-year-old boy with one hand on the console and the other on his crotch, and cater to the market accordingly.

I'm no expert on kicking the shit out of people after executing the perfect backwards somersault (well, except for that one time...), but considering all the starlets who have "accidentally" exposed a nipple or two while doing nothing more strenuous than posing for PR shots, I'm pretty sure that wardrobe malfunctions would be fairly common. Having your decolletage split down to your navel might not be the most sensible attire for the job at hand (i.e., beating up the bad guys).

There's an old quote about Ginger Rogers that goes "Don't forget that she did everything that Fred did, but backwards and in high heels." People use it as an example of female superiority, but I've always wondered why she couldn't just have worn more practical footwear.

But enough proselytising...let's see some pictures of titties!

1. Don't Wear High Heels if You Have to Stand Up All Day, Like 7 of 9 from Star Trek: Voyager

As a borg drone, Seven rarely (if ever) sits down. She spends her days standing in front of various consoles in Astrometrics, which I assume is future-speak for some sort of astronomy lab. (My shoddy Latin would also have me believe that they "measure" stuff there.) As any woman alive will tell you, spending the whole day perched atop tottering 4-inch heels can be a fairly excruciating experience, especially if you throw in some daring space-based adventures on hostile planets along the way.

Actress Jeri Ryan herself said that the costume was "uncomfortable" and "not very forgiving," and she's a pampered actress who gets to sit down between scenes and have people bring her lettuce leaves to nibble on. Never mind that it may be sending the wrong message to any little girls aspiring to be scientists; in this case, the outfit is also totally contrary to the character. As a pragmatic and dour borg with no interest in small talk or other human fripperies, Seven would fail to see the point of high heels at all. Of course, we all know what the point is: to provide fapping material to hordes of adolescent nerds.

Google result for "female astronomer":

TV's idea of a female astronomer:

Clearly the best choice of attire for lab-work.

2. Don't Assassinate People in Your Nightie, Like Violette Summer from Velvet Assassin

The promotional material proudly boasts of the game being "inspired" by the real life adventure of Violet Szabo, a British Secret Agent in WW2. You can almost hear it patting you on the head, exclaiming "See...girls can be bad-ass spies too. Oooh, aren't we progressive!"

Unfortunately not, since whenever Violet (sorry, Violette) performs her stealthy manoeuvres, she somehow manages to shed half her outfit. I can see how, by some tenuous chain of events, one might be called upon to perform an assassination while wearing slinky night-attire. If you had to seduce all the SS officers in occupied France before getting your stabbity on, perhaps. But in the game it just sort of happens, amidst a shower of rose petals and presumably the sound of a long strip of Velcro coming unstuck. I bet the real Violet Szabo would at least have the courtesy to draw some seams on the back of her legs first, so she could pretend she still had her nylon stockings on.

Google Result for "Violet Szabo":

Video game idea of Violet Szabo:

3. Don't Explore Rugged Terrain in Short-Shorts, like Lara Croft from Tomb Raider

To be fair, what Lara Croft calls "archaeology," most people call "blatant thieving." Somehow movies have never been able to capture the true spirit of archaeology, perhaps because it mostly involves a lot of hiking and neck strain. Whips, restless natives, and giant rolling boulders don't really feature much, I'm told.

While most of the controversy surrounding the Lara Croft character has centred around her...err...ample endowments, I have always wondered why her lovely legs aren't covered in bruises, scrapes and spider bites. Hell, even weekend hikers know better than to wear shorts, for fear of contracting Lyme disease and other insect-borne pathogens.

Also, for god's sake woman, stop destroying other people's precious heirlooms!

Google result for "female archaeologist":

Video game idea of a female archaeologist:

4. Don't Engage in Sword Fights While Wearing a Chain Mail Bikini, Like Xena: Warrior Princess

Aaaargh! Chain mail bikinis are the worst. Luckily for Xena and other fantasy-themed warrior-women, no one seems to have figured out the crucial flaw here, namely a swift strike to the soft underbelly.

Trying to imagine the thought processes involved in the creation of such a garment, I came up with the following scenario:

Blacksmith A: "So, what we want is something that will stop weapons from causing such serious damage to our pink squishy bits?"

Blacksmith B: "Exactly."

Blacksmith A: "What if we made clothes out of metal? Metal is hard, right...any blow from a sharp pointy thing should just glance right off it."

Blacksmith B: "Perfect! We'll start working on it right away! One small modification though...let's do that thing you said, but leave a huge expanse of flesh exposed. From the heart to the kidneys should just about do it. You know, right where the human body is most vulnerable? That ought to really confuse them!"

Blacksmith A: "....."

Google result for "female body armour":

TV's idea of female body armour:

5. Don't Do High-Kicks in a G-String, Like Cammy from Street Fighter

Says Wikipedia:
"Cammy's anti-air move, the Cannon Spike (or Thrust Kick in the English versions of SSF2) causes her to quickly kick one leg upward into the air, twisting her body and flipping backward, putting her at a safe range from the opponent when the move concludes."
I think if you try really hard, you can figure out the problem with this one. G-strings don't leave much to the imagination, especially when your legs are bent right back around your head. Aside from the obvious wardrobe malfunction issues, there is also the risk of thrush and fungal infections, not to mention the chafing.


It's hard to rip on Street Fighter though, especially since most of the guys also look like they're dressed up for some bizarrely-themed "Saturday Night Fever/Transformers" party. Nevertheless, I'd prefer not to be exposing my genitals to some sparkly yaoi boy about to stab me with a katana.

Google result for "female fighter":

Video game idea of a female fighter:

6. Don't Do Your Burglarizing in a Vinyl Cat-Suit, Like Catwoman

Comic book movies of the nineties were always amazingly campy, especially the Batman franchise. Who among us does not remember the Kevlar nipples of Val Kilmer's bat-suit, or the psyche-scarring sight of Jim Carrey in a florescent unitard?

I remember my newly-pubescent guy friends going mad over Michelle Pfeiffer's catsuit, but I was never able to share their enthusiasm. I could only imagine how smelly that thing must be after a day of jumping over rooftops and prowling stealthily in the night. Never mind g-string-based thrush: there has to be some craaaaazy bacteria having a party in there.

I'll admit that a catsuit might be useful for avoiding things normal clothes would get snagged on, like a maze of deadly lasers. But a catsuit made from PVC is only good for one thing: taking a long slimy bath in your own sweat.

Google result for "female burglar":

Hollywood's idea of a female burglar:

(Also, is this thing really named after cats? The shloomfiest animals ever to walk the planet? Try to get one of those on an actual cat, and you are heading for a claw in the eye.)

7. Don't Let Your Hair Down in the Lab, like Elsa from Splice

I'm pretty sure there are many more examples of this, but I just watched Splice and found it hilarious. "See...science makes women breed dangerous mutants instead of having normal babies like they're supposed to. Oh the moral implications!"

As well as slapping us upside the head over and over with its tortured rhetoric, the movie is also not too hot on the whole "science" thing. My friend Ron just finished his PhD in microbiology, and he assures me that never once has he bred horrible genetic mutations in his garden shed. I only did up to GCSE Chem and Bio, and even I know that you have to put your hair up and wear safety goggles in the lab. (Some lab safety rules for the kiddies.)

Google Result for "female scientist in lab":

Hollywood's idea of a female scientist in a lab:

But these are cool scientists: Adrien Brody sports his hipster attire with pride, and both of them have enough flowing locks for a Woodstock revival. Which is all well and good, until you get your hair caught in the centrifuge. Ouchies.

Are oversexualised role models damaging to young girls?

11109 views & 62 votes

Debate It! 10

those outfits are mainly used to depict the bad and cruel characters of villian actresses.

Posted By bunty23,

I don't think it matters how scantily clothed Xena is.... If you were dumb enough to get close enough to her to stab her with a sword, you were probably dead long before she would be anyway.

Posted By JasonM,

Great writing! I loved it'

Posted By lockheed40,

You know where Cammy went wrong? Her G-string clearly isn't made of rubber. Still, strap a little skirt on her and during the off-season she can pick up tips as a cocktail waitress in Vegas. (Awesome article.)

Posted By Cobanerd,

My other main issue with Cammy is her hair, that hugely grabable hair...

Posted By LothLoren9,

Lol great article (but I agree with JasonM too :P)

Posted By polerberr,

OMG I love Tomb Raider. Amazing and so F I N E
Edited:03-27-2011 11:06PM by Rebecca
Reason:stripped link

Posted By SungTow,

TERRIFIC article! What would Gloria Steinam say? Women have come a LONG way, but sex sells--especially to 15 year old (male) nerds. The 50-year olds aren't complaining either.

Posted By vk,

Lol...is that you, mom? Thanks for the comment...you've really upped the tone of things around here :P

Posted By lessthanthree,

Very nice article! I have noticed these VERY impractical costumes. I did pick the first option though. Because as a female viewer, I understand that these exposures are like purposefully having guys in t-shirts 2 sizes to small to show off abs or whatever. Some people find that attractive (don't count me in), and it is perfectly acceptable as a result of our evolution.

Posted By BunnyFromMars,

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