How Not to Talk About Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman

[Content note: body policing, fat phobia, eating disorders, dehumanization]

It's finally here: a confirmation that Wonder Woman will appear in a Batman/Superman movie, as Liss noted earlier. And we now know that Gal Gadot will be playing her.

Now there are lots of pitfalls involved in this appearance. As Liss has noted, it's shitty that she can't have her own damn movie in the first place. And shitty that, as explored in this piece, that the character's cinematic fuure could be ruined by this small cameo.[CN: ableist language, discussion of body size].)

But this is not about that. It's about the terrible and dehumanizing ways fans are already talking about Ms. Gadot.

Over on her Facebook page, Ms. Gadot shared this news with her fans. Most responses were positive. The negatives? Extraordinarily cruel.

"Eat a sandwich."

"Oh noNo no no no r u kidding me Pls dont spoil Batman for me oh whom m i kidding its ben affleck there its already dead ...might as well ur boobs keep us busy."

"Where's the boobs of WW? Just sayin'"

"Aren't you a bit of a beanpole to be playing a commanding amazonian warrior woman?"

"Objective opinion: I like your work and you are a very beautiful woman, but you are not a Wonder Woman type.... We swallowed Ben Affleck as batman, because if he'd train and prepare like fe Heath ledger he might pull this off, but you, even with superior acting skills, just do not have the physique to pull that role off. No matter how hard you'd train, no matter how much you'd prepare....its like seeing a trainwreck before it happens."

There are more, but I think that provides enough of a crash course in How Not To Talk About Gal Gadot.

Implication of anorexia? Check.

Reducing the actor to her breasts? Check. (Bonus points for both suggesting her breasts are not sexy enough AND ALSO suggesting that her boobs are the only things to keep the audience "busy." Well played, patriarchy!)

Body-shaming, complete with name-calling? Check.

Explicit comparison to male actors who successfully change their bodies for film, combined with certainty that Ms. Gadot cannot do this. (Why is that? Could it be... sexism?) Double check!

What the fuck, people. What the ever-loving fuck. And it's not just Facebook. In an article about fan reactions to the casting [CN: body shaming], helpfully provides these gems, among others:

GarrettWBecker posted: ‘Does Gal Gadot have large enough breasts to play Wonder Woman? That’s a valid question?! #LookatHer #BodyImageinMedia.’

haz_elnino wrote: ‘The only thing I’m worried about Gal Gadot getting cast as Wonder Woman is that she’s too skinny, like anorexic skinny. Time to gain weight.’

...all of which are super-helpful. WONDERHELPFUL, even. Not.

There are certainly valid concerns to discuss about systemic misogyny and fatphobia affect the portrayal of Wonder Woman. About the way Hollywood shies away from portraying powerful female bodies that are bigger than the Hollywood norm. About the way even a superheroic Amazon cannot be played by someone outside Hollywood's standard of thin.

But frankly? Those thing are not about Gal Gadot. That shit is not her fault. Nor is it her problem, individually, to fix.

And those conversations must not perpetuate sexist body shame. Shaming her eating habits, reducing her to her breasts, and pre-determining that she will be a failure-- nope! And certainly, none of that is reason to assume that she won't achieve a more "superheroic" look, to ignore all the ways that weight training and costume and direction and camera angle and whatever create such illusions on film all the damn time

(For fuck's sake, Wolverine in the comics is officially 5" 3'. Hugh Jackman is 6' 2". Yet, MYSTERIOUSLY, Jackman, along with his trainer, costume designers and directors, has made that work.)

Ms. Gadot is under tremendous pressure, and bears a heavy and unequal burden. She will be blamed for whatever aspects of her cameo don't live up to expectations, even if those have nothing to do with her. She will be put under suspicion if the movie does poorly--after all, it must be her girl cooties that kept fans away. And her body will be policed, scrutinized and reduced to its parts in a way utterly disproportionate to the way her co-stars will be examined.

And, may I further point out: this is fans talking to and about her when she has just unexpectedly lost a close friend and colleague, Paul Walker. Most of her recent Facebook posts are about her grief, shock, and mourning. The shit being flung at her would be cruel and unjustified at any time; it is a grossly indecent way to speak to someone in mourning.

What's the right way to talk about, and to, Gal Gadot? How about this:

As a human being.

Good luck and best wishes, Ms. Gadot. May the glory of Gaea be with you.

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