Reading Early Wonder Woman, part two

The fashion post

When Wonder Woman first appeared in All-Star Comics she lived on Paradise Island, with all the other Amazons. The women don't wear a great deal of clothing -- but it's about being able to work and to be active.

The island is one, as the Queen explains, where without the distractions of men, the "Amazons have been able to far surpass the inventions of the so-called man-made civilization! [They] are not only stronger and wiser than men -- but our weapons are better -- our flying machines are further advanced!"

Most of the time, on Paradise Island, the Amazons seem to wear a variation of culottes and sports bras. When Wonder Woman wins the strength and agility contests -- and the opportunity to leave Paradise Island with Steve Trevor -- she recieves from her mother her signature costume.

The last panel of that first issue shows Wonder Woman in her new outfit -- with the red top emblazoned with an eagle and the blue-starred shorts. But these are still culottes, not the "shorts" that they eventually evolved into. Through the first episodes of Wonder Woman's career, those shorts do change, but they change for the more sensible. The flowy culottes that she initially wears gradually become more form fitting, which gives Wonder Woman more flexibility of movement -- she won't expose anything to anyone and she won't get her shorts caught on something.

After she deposits Steve Trevor at the army hospital, Wonder Woman decides to do a bit of window shopping to kill time. (Certainly, people notice that she's out there rather scantily clad.) Wonder Woman remarks of those dresses that "there's so much material in their dresses... but they are cute! Hm-m! There's a nice frock!" So, Wonder Woman knows her clothes. More importantly, she comments on the great amount of material in the clothing -- material that limits movement.

In a later episode, after she's taken on the identity of Diana Prince, army nurse, Wonder Woman finds herself captured by the forces of Dr. Poison. When she breaks free, she's able to change from her nursing outfit to her Wonder Woman garb. The comic itself shows her pulling on the last boot and remarking that it's "Lucky this outfit was in [her] bag. [She] can do better with fewer clothes."

So, although Wonder Woman certainly never wore a lot of clothing compared to the American women, she has reason -- and that reason points to the restrictiveness of much of women's clothing.

(I do want to point out that the current outfit that Wonder Woman wears -- with those high cut bikini-looking shorts -- looks incredibly uncomfortable to me. It's hard to fight evil when your shorts are creeping up.)

cross posted at The Seacoast of Bohemia

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