That post about “attractive armor without bikini” actually left me wondering: why would you actually want an attractive armor? Sure, everyone loves an aesthethically pleasing armor, but we can’t just forget that armor is mostly made to be, well, intimidating. It’s supposed to make people both safer in combat and also more powerful. Not having to battle – because you look so threatening or even downright unbeatable – is some 40% of the purpose of an armor piece. Why does it need to be attractive?
Regarding: this post
That’s actually a very good question! In short, the answer is (and better get your body ready for that)…
Believe it or not, some of the Female Armor Rhetoric Bingo arguments hold up under specific circumstances.
But let’s set some things straight first: armor is done primarily to be protective.
It sure helps if the design makes the wearer intimidating enough to make the opponents surrender right away, but at its core it was invented as a physical barrier between a person and whatever or whoever threatens their life or health.
That doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for decorative armor in the history. Highly ornamented muscle cuirass (male equivalent of boobplate) was designed to impress and worn by high-standing officers during non-battle special occasions, like parades.
That said, in the world of fiction the distinction between purely functional and decorative armor is not necessary. It’s not real, and unless the setting of choice is gritty life-like naturalism, the armor (and any other design) needs just to be believable, not realistic. We commented on it before.
This is where those two bingo squares come in. Fictional worlds, especially the more fantastic ones, can be stylized, sometimes even to ridiculous degree, as long as all of the world is consistent with its level of stylization.
That’s why it’s not inherently bad to have people fight monsters in G-strings… It just needs to all make sense within its own narrative and preferably not be gendered (which basically never happens).
Hope that answers it.
Sometimes we make comments about how attractive a person looks in armor, because a lot of the time, their design is going for that. Unfortunately, the shorthand for that tends to be More Skin, High Heels, the usual offenders. But even if a character is designed to be attractive, that can be done without resorting to tired sexist tropes. And so we bring attention to it sometimes, when it’s done well.
Historically speaking, a lot of European plate armor was quite ugly from a design perspective, actually.
Look at that silhouette, the tiny shapes everywhere, that scarecrow head-adjacent helmet, those duck feet. Beautiful.
Compare that to any armor in Game of Thrones, which is functional, but is just so much nicer to look at.
As critics of art and design, we care more about seeing women’s designs being consistent (and good) in their universe, rather than having 100% Organic Free Range Realism. (Don’t worry though, we will continue to feature actual ladies in actual armor for positive examples.)