With the recent release of the highly anticipated Spider-Gwen #1, it seems a new trend is gaining steam in the comic book world: modesty. This recent movement has more than just feminism activists buzzing. Christian comic book fans, looking to get away from the constant bombardment of scantily clad women featuring ample chests and buttocks, can now find some reprieve at their local comic book store.
Late last year, DC Comics dropped Batgirl #35, which introduced a new creative team, including artists Cameron Stewart and Babs Tarr, who were responsible for Batgirl’s new design. When images of Batgirl’s redesign debuted online before the issue’s publication, the internet instantly launched them to viral status. Barbara Gordon traded in spandex and a curvy figure for a comfortable leather jacket. In the comic. she decides to start over and move to a hipster district in Gotham, called Burnside, where she explores youthfulness and her social life while fighting crime.
Around the same time, Marvel unleashed Gwen Stacy’s Spider-Woman into the Spider-Verse. Her fanfare echoed the sentiments of the redesigned Batgirl. Robbi Rodriguez dialed down the flashy red colors and big curves of previous Spider-heroines to give Gwen a neutral-colored suit and hood with pops of color. Instead of being just Peter Parker’s smart and preppy girlfriend, this Gwen Stacy is strong, witty, and cool. Heck, she’s the drummer in a rock band!
Just this week, Marvel released Spider-Woman #5 with a redesigned Jessica Drew courtesy of artist Kris Anka. Her costume went from clinging to every curve, to a rad biker look. In the comic, Jessica Drew has left SHIELD and is now flying solo, hitting the streets on her motorcycle and catching bad guys. She’s got attitude and confidence, and I can’t wait to see how her character develops further.
These characters aren’t just a breath of fresh air to the comic book world; they’re a Gale-force wind of fresh air. The new Barbara Gordon, Gwen Stacy, and Jessica Drew reach a new demographic and appeal to a new generation of comic book readers. Most importantly, though, they send a clear message to girls: You don’t have to be curvy and expose your body to be cool or attractive. What is really valuable, not only in comics, but also in real life, isn’t just being a good looking character, but having good character. People aren’t reading Batgirl or Spider-Gwen just because of the lead characters’ costume designs; people are reading because these heroines are interesting, likeable, dynamic characters.
The idea of relying on the content of your character instead your outward appearance reflects biblical teaching as well. Paul says in 1 Timothy 2 that “women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works.” Unlike what some people may think, this verse doesn’t mean that women should wear burlap sacks and look like a hot mess. Paul still says that women should adorn themselves–drape themselves in things that make them feel good and give them confidence; not opulent jewels or fine clothing, but self-control and good works.
Doing the right thing and serving God are what women should “adorn” themselves with.
People should first be attracted to the love of Christ that lives and works in you, instead of being attracted to your physical features. The world wants you to think that you need to show off your body for approval. That’s a lie. The world wants you to think that modesty is a form of control over women. That’s a lie. Modesty isn’t meant to be a restriction. When modesty is born from Christ, it becomes freedom. Modesty is freedom from social pressures. Modesty is freedom from the world’s expectations. Modesty is freedom from a society that says that you have to have sex appeal all the time. Modesty gives you freedom from self-consciousness because your confidence comes from who you are, not what you’re wearing.
If you want to put on something that makes you appealing to others or something that makes you feel beautiful, Colossians 3:12-14 says, “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” Adorn yourself in the love that comes from God and let it drape and flow so that it touches everyone around you. Watch how your world changes when that happens.
As a father of two little girls, I am very excited to see characters like Batgirl and Spider-Gwen getting such widespread acclaim for their sleek designs, as well as their comics’ great artwork and talented writing. I want my daughters to be able to see young, cool, heroines be strong, smart, and feminine without having to show off their bodies. These are the qualities that all people should cling to: adorn yourself in the love of Jesus; do good things for the world and you won’t have to dress a certain way to gain affirmation. Barbara Gordon doesn’t need it, Gwen Stacy doesn’t need it, Jessica Drew doesn’t need it, and you don’t need it. Your strength comes from within.
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