A warrior from a distant, frozen land. Proselytizes at length her personal dogma of dominating the body through the will of the spirit, and trained nearly naked in the arctic temperatures of her homeland. Wages war against both worthy opponents and anything that offends her deeply-held ideals with searing, magically-generated fire and a body toughened to the very pinnacle of human endurance. While her search for worthy opponents has driven her this far south, she is thus far deeply unimpressed with the world she’s found and its soft-skinned denizens.
Character creation is something of a hobby of mine and sometimes I make characters and ideas not in the interest of creating a larger story, but simply understanding ideas rolling around in my head.
Medina is a case study in that sense, inspired in great part by @bikiniarmorbattledamage and the analysis and insight it gives into female characters and women warriors in fiction, and how they are often depicted, as well as something personal I was thinking over that often, well-meaning people (myself definitely included) try to ‘fix’ qualities in the interest of improving female characters that aren’t in and of themselves a problem.
Underdressed warriors aren’t a problem. A bared breast isn’t the problem. The problem is what messages you send with character design.
Medina’s flagrant disregard for conventions of modesty makes sense because she’s an arrogant hermit proud of her body. She has little need for warmth thanks to supernatural heat powers. All could easily be excuses to design another forgettable character in a fur-lined bikini.
Thing is, with a look like this, I don’t really need to say “she doesn’t wear armor because she thinks she’s too good for it and frankly, can back it up.” Her scars, posture, and hefty musculature say that for me. She’s paid the price for being so exposed and has found it agreeable- has survived it on many accounts.
Sexualized designs send a message, too. Especially giving a very specific flavor of “sexy” top billing in terms of design priority- like making a warrior character swinging a heavy weapon dainty and unmuscled because the artist finds dainty, slender women more appealing even when her job would at bare minimum demand strong arms and strong arms will show muscle toning if nothing else- it says “this character is an attractive woman. Oh… also, maybe she’s a soldier.”
And if you do that to all of your female characters- if every woman in the story has either her beauty or lack thereof called attention to over any other quality she might have- then that’s a bit of a problem. It means that male characters are allowed to be judged by their traits, but for female characters, far more than being smart, strong, charismatic, sneaky, dangerous, or any other quality, the most important thing a woman can be is pretty in a very specific way.
A lovely design, and great commentary to go with it! We’ve made some jokes on this blog about how injured bikini-wearing warriors would be in actual combat, but this is a woman who definitely seems like that wouldn’t deter her. Every scar is proof that she survived something, and she’d be proud of that. She’s not designed for titillation in any way, so I don’t mind her lack of armor.
I was really looking forward to feature this design. Really great example of unsexualized female nudity that is entirely character motivated, instead of being some pathetic excuse from our rhetoric bingo.