Commentary #61: “How To De-Objectify Women in Comics: A Guide”


Image Credit: Renae De Liz

My good friend Michaela Leigh shared this with me several months ago!

Here’s the link to the original article:

This was a really interesting perspective on a common problem – Women and girls are objectified way too often.

Case in point: Consider the controversial dress codes that schools across the country have implemented or attempted to implement with tank tops, shorts, leggings, homecoming dresses, and prom dresses, among other things. That’s a whole other blog post to discuss, but I wanted to make that reference.

Here’s the breakdown of the above illustration, taken directly from the article:

  1. (Left) A common expression in comics. Eyes are lidded, mouth is pouty. It’s look to promote a sense of sexiness & lessens personality.
    (Right) Personality and uniqueness first. Think of distinct facial features outside the usual. Promote thought in eyes. What’s she thinking of?
  2. (Left) Commonly taught way to draw breasts (OR fully separated/circles/sticking out). The intent is to highlight sex appeal. It’s not realistic for a hero.
    (Right) What’s REALISTIC for your hero? Athletes need major support (i.e sports bra) which have a different look. Consider not ALL heroes have DD’s.
  3. Arms are closer to supermodel size on the left. What best fits your hero? If she’s strong, she’ll likely very built. Give her muscles!
  4. Hands on left are set in a way to promote the sense of softness, it lessens her power. Be sure hands are set in a way to promote strength
  5. (Left) It’s common to see “the arch n’ twist” in comics. A female arched and twisted to show both cheeks AND both boobs.
    (Right) Twists in the body are a powerful art tool but stick to what can realistically be done, and use arches w/o intent for “boob/butt perk.”
  6. One on left feels like she’s posing. The right feels like she’s standing heroically. Make her overall pose functional vs. sexually appealing.
  7. Heels! Modern heels are generally used to amplify stance & increase visual appeal. I like them, but if I were a hero, not too realistic.  Most important is what would your character choose? It’s very difficult to hero around in stilettos. Perhaps consider low/no heels.

I don’t consider myself a good artist, especially when it comes to faces and characters. I struggle with proportions, and I’m a crazy perfectionist! I get so frustrated. So, I’m far better with landscapes!

Anyway, reading this article was eye-opening to me. I’m not trying to give comic book artists a bad rap at all – Many of them are very talented, and those who draw the famous characters typically put their own spin on the character’s original likeness.

With that said, I found myself nodding my head with most of her points. Female superheroes should be showcased for their talents and abilities, not because they are female. But, at the same time, I can see how sex appeal has been ingrained for years. I’m sure the artists (and the publishers) want / wanted to maintain a certain audience with comic books and other media, so certain standards / techniques were established in terms of female superheroes.

However, there’s also a delicate balance. Sure, you want to keep the guys interested in the comic books, but you want to appeal to the girls, too. I think objectification has been a years-long issue, and comic books and female superheroes are just one part of the complicated jumble. There’s no simple solution, unfortunately.

The author brought up some interesting points. Here’s my thoughts.

If I were a superheroine, I would want the best sports bra or support available, because I certainly wouldn’t want my boobs to get in the way of saving someone’s life, fighting a monster, or saving the Earth from a gigantic threat.

If I were a superheroine, I would want to be portrayed as someone who is strong, courageous, determined, and brave. For me, I wouldn’t want a face full of makeup while on superheroine duty. I want to look put together, but not look like a clown. I want to look strong and active – Not necessarily super buff, but enough to be convincing. A six-pack would be nice! My hair should be up and out of my face, not in the way!

If I were a superheroine, I would want to be functional in my costume / outfit. I mean, I’m trying to save people’s lives, much less the entire Earth, among other things! I don’t think I would be comfortable in something leather, skin-tight, and anything with heels! I struggle in heels in my everyday life – Give me comfortable / functional boots!

If I were a superheroine, I would want to be recognized as a female, but lauded for my accomplishments instead of my looks! Sex appeal is great for photography, romantic movies, and a few other things, but not superheroines!

I admire several superheroines.

Jessica Jones


Image Credit: Wikipedia

I was first introduced to Jessica Jones with the Netflix series Marvel’s Jessica Jones. She’s a private investigator in Hell’s Kitchen, but she’s also a bad-ass. Plus, Krysten Ritter was an awesome casting choice.

Stargirl (Courtney Whitmore)


Image Credit: Wikipedia

I didn’t know much about Stargirl until Tidewater Comicon in 2015. Granted, I first saw a “bombshell” figurine rendition of her, but I actually prefer her original costume. I love how her personality was based on one of the creator’s sisters, also named Courtney, who died in the TWA Flight 800 explosion in 1996. She’s young and strong!

Wonder Woman


Image Credit: Wikipedia

I’ve always admired Wonder Woman. Now, I have a renewed interest and fascination since Gal Gadot debuted in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. She’s strong, courageous, and her outfit (at least in the most recent movies) is somewhat modest. She fights in boots, not heels!

I’m excited to see how she is portrayed in the upcoming Justice League movie, as well as the planned sequel to the box office smash Wonder Woman. Until then, I’ve greatly enjoyed researching how Lynda Carter portrayed her on TV, and others.

What about you? Do you have any favorite superheroines?

What are your thoughts on objectifying women, girls, and superheroines?

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂


Commentary #60: “This American Town Was Left to Die, and Suddenly Economists Care”

South Boston

South Boston Historic Downtown – South Boston, Virginia. Image Credit: Virginia Is For Lovers

Back in August, one of my friends shared this article on Facebook. Immediately intrigued, I clicked on it, curious about what context the headline gave.

Within seconds, I couldn’t believe which town they were referencing.

South Boston, Virginia, is just a few miles away from where my in-laws have their farm. It’s a beautiful town, formerly Boyd’s Ferry, first established in 1796. There are multiple places in the town that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Here’s the link to the original article:

I’m definitely not an expert in economics, although I did take ECON 111 at Longwood and got quite an education during that semester. However, I’ve always admired small-town America, and I find myself researching different towns, counties, and rural areas, particularly in Virginia. I wrote several research papers on Appalachia between high school and college, and have always been fascinated with the tragedies and triumphs of the vast region.

South Boston is one of the towns in Halifax County. Like many small towns, there’s been what referred to as a rolling recession in the town since the 1990s. The town has about 8,000 residents, and the workforce has decreased by about 25 percent in the last two decades. This particular article discussed the effects of free trade on the U.S.

Two particular movements devastated Halifax County and its workforce: The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1994, and then when China entered the World Trade Organization (WTO). While the unemployment rate in the U.S. was trending toward historic lows, the unemployment rate in Halifax County surged. The highest rate recorded in the county was 13.9 percent.

Many towns like South Boston experience a domino effect. Once manufacturing jobs dry up or leave, other businesses, seemingly unrelated or connected, also start to fade away. The dominoes keep falling, until something happens to make them stop. In South Boston, there are shells of car dealerships, empty downtown storefronts, and other evidence.

Fortunately, in South Boston, conditions have improved. The unemployment rate has held steady around five percent, far better than nearly 14 percent. A few manufacturers call South Boston home, not textiles or tobacco, but sports cars, robotics, power, and heavy electrical equipment.

Sprawling brick buildings that were once tobacco warehouses are now apartments. Two of them are now the home of the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center, where students can become certified in a number of disciplines, thanks to schools such as Longwood University, Old Dominion University, Danville Community College, and Southside Virginia Community College.

IT certificate holders have been hired at Microsoft’s data center in a neighboring county. Other certifications include nursing and welding. The massive investment is paying off.

I’m glad that South Boston is becoming a success story. However, I think of many areas of Appalachia where coal mining jobs, among others, have been automated, and there aren’t enough jobs in the area to make up the difference.

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Commentary #59: “Once Teased For Her Love Of Bugs, 8-Year-Old Co-Authors Scientific Paper”


Sophia Spencer and Morgan Jackson co-wrote a scientific paper on Twitter, entomology and women in science, after a tweet about Sophia’s love for bugs went viral. Image Credit: Nicole Spencer

I stumbled upon this NPR piece last week, and thought it was awesome!

Here’s the link to the original article:

It’s such a shame that bullying is still so prevalent in our society. However, this story shows that something good can come out of it!

I’m in awe of Sophia Spencer. At 8-years-old, she already doing amazing things! She loves bugs, and she’s a co-author of a scientific paper. Wow!!

I felt tears in my eyes as I read this quote from her:

“‘Before … I really thought loving bugs wasn’t the best hobby,” Sophia told NPR. “But after I realized bugs are for girls I thought to myself, ‘Well, I think I should start loving bugs again, because just because people say they’re weird and gross doesn’t mean I shouldn’t like them.’ ”

How many kids — How many adults — can say that?

I’ll admit, I wasn’t a big fan of math or science as a kid. I was a bit more interested in science, mainly because of The Magic School Bus and Bill Nye The Science Guy.

Sophia’s passion will carry her far in life. She’s already changed the world of Morgan Jackson, and all the entomologists who responded to her mother’s pleas for support and encouragement!

As I was reading the article, I couldn’t help but think of two of my friends – Melissa and Brittany – who are both passionate about science, physics, STEM, etc., and how they’re changing the world in their own ways. Brittany has two adorable girls, and I love how she is teaching them about science (among other things) every single day!

Thank you, Sophia, for inspiring me! You’re gonna be a great entomologist someday!

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Awesome Authors #7: Veronica Roth


Image Credit: Logical Quotes

I first discovered Veronica Roth in 2011, when I heard the buzz about her debut novel, Divergent.

In my Book Review at the end of 2014, I liked Divergent, loved Insurgent, but Allegiant was disappointing, to say the least. It took me several months, from July through December, to finish the trilogy.

Veronica Roth was born on August 19, 1988. She was born in New York City, but raised in Barrington, Illinois, which is 32 miles northwest of Chicago. She has an older brother and sister. Her parents divorced around 1993, but her mother eventually remarried.

She graduated from Barrington High School. She initially studied at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota. After one year, she transferred to Northwestern University to study creative writing. She graduated from Northwestern in 2010. She married Nelson Fitch, a photographer, in 2011.

Roth wrote Divergent while on winter break during her senior year at Northwestern.

She has received several awards. She received the Goodreads 2011 Choice Award. In 2012, she was recognized as the Best of 2012 in the category of Young Adult Fantasy & Science Fiction, as well as Best Goodreads Author.

The publishing rights for Divergent were sold before her college graduation. The film rights were sold before the novel’s printing in April 2011.

By fall 2013, Divergent and Insurgent had sold more than five million copies.

The film adaptation of Divergent was released in March 2014. The film adaptation of Insurgent was released on March 20, 2015.

Initially, the third book, Allegiant, was scheduled to be split into two films. The Divergent Series: Allegiant was released on March 18, 2016. The former Part 2, re-titled as The Divergent Series: Ascendant, was released on March 24, 2017.

The Divergent trilogy:

  • Divergent (2011)
  • Insurgent (2012)
  • Allegiant (2013)

Image Credit:

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The cover art for these books is gorgeous. It’s one of the things that attracted me to the trilogy. As I mentioned in my 2014 book review, I loved the first two books, particularly Insurgent. However, Allegiant was a huge turn-off for me. In my opinion, Roth could have made both Divergent and Insurgent a little bit longer, and wrapped up the series with those two books.

The World of Divergent: The Path to Allegiant (2013)

The World of Divergent'

Image Credit: Amazon

Roth also published a companion book / guide to the Divergent trilogy, around the time that Allegiant was published. To be honest, I haven’t read this, and I’m not sure if I ever will.

Four: A Divergent Story Collection (2014)


Image Credit: Wikipedia

In addition to the Divergent trilogy, Roth wrote four short stories from the point of view of Tobias Eaton.

  • The Transfer
  • The Initiate
  • The Son
  • The Traitor

The stories have been sold separately, but also packaged together.


We Can Be Mended (2017)

We Can

Image Credit: Goodreads

An epilogue to Divergent, titled We Can Be Mended, was announced in December 2016. I’m willing to give it a shot, although I immensely disliked Allegiant as a whole. Maybe Roth can redeem herself with this one.

Carve The Mark (2017)

Carve The Mark

Image Credit: Goodreads

Roth’s latest young adult book, titled Carve The Mark, was published on January 17, 2017. I actually didn’t realize she had written a new book until researching her for this specific post, so I plan to add this book to my TBR. It looks like a completely new, completely different story, and I’m excited to try it out. To the library!

I’ve really enjoyed following Roth’s journey into writing, so far.

As critical as I’ve been about Allegiant and the film adaptations, I plan to add Carve The Mark and We Can Be Mended to my TBR. We shall see!

What about you?

Have you read any of Veronica Roth’s works?

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Commentary #58: “The women who don’t know they’re autistic”

Autism Speaks

Image Credit: Autism Speaks

I stumbled upon this article via Facebook back in July. I thought it was fascinating, and it prompted me to learn more about autism.

Here’s the link to the original post:

The article primarily focuses on what’s known as “high-functioning” autism in women. This means autism without intellectual disability.

According to the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities:

Intellectual disability is a disability characterized by significant limitations in both intellectual functioning and in adaptive behavior, which covers many everyday social and practical skills. This disability originates before the age of 18.

For years, it’s been studied, and widely publicized, that more boys than girls are diagnosed with autism.

Autism is defined as the following:

a mental condition, present from early childhood, characterized by difficulty in communicating and forming relationships with other people and in using language and abstract concepts.

It’s estimated that 1 out of 68 children in the United States are on the autism spectrum. For boys, it’s around 1 in 42.  For girls, it’s around 1 in 189.

Some of autism’s signs can now be recognized as early as 18 months of age, but are usually identified and diagnosed between the ages of two and three.

Parents are encouraged to seek evaluation of their child without delay. Early intervention can improve outcomes.

In 2013, all autism disorders were merged under one umbrella diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Previously, they were distinct sub-types,  including autistic disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder, pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), and Asperger Syndrome.

Despite more childhood diagnoses, it’s becoming more common for people to be diagnosed as adults.

According to the Madison House Autism Foundation:

  • Those with autism may have exponentially acute senses. Bright or fluorescent lighting can be overwhelming. Loud sounds and crowds of people may be as well.
  • The ability to concentrate for long periods of time on one thing, and their attention to detail is something those without autism find enviable.
  • They are often highly visual people, and many have found ways to communicate through multiple mediums besides with words.
  • Those with autism may avoid eye contact with other people and, because they often take language literally, may have difficulty with metaphors, humor, and sarcasm. Interpreting what others are thinking or feeling is challenging because they have difficulty understanding social cues, such as tone of voice or facial expressions.
  • It is a myth that those with autism are unable to feel empathy.
  • Those with autism think, process, and behave differently than neurotypical individuals.

As renowned animal rights activist and professor Temple Grandin says, they are “Different, but not less.” They can, with support and slight modifications, become assets to every community and the workforce.

The main point I’m trying to get at – Individuals with autism are individuals. They are amazing. They may think and behave a little differently than others, but it’s important to recognize them and appreciate them.

The original article provided and cited a variety of sources:

This article shone a spotlight on women and how we can recognize smaller, less noticeable signs of ASD.

  • Compensating for communication impediments they may not be consciously aware of.
  • Not being good at guessing what people are thinking.
  • Hypersensitivities – Smells, sounds, bright lights, etc.
  • Reduced sensitivity to pain.
  • Misdiagnosed psychological disorders.
  • Taste for solitude.
  • Intensity of passions.
  • Talking about one subject / topic for extended periods of time, longer than normal (i.e., spending hours focusing on one thing in particular and not deviating).
  • Not wearing jewelry because of the way metal feels on the skin.
  • Not wearing certain clothing because of sensitivity to fabrics, tags, buttons, zippers, etc.

Given some of these signs and symptoms, it’s fairly easy to interpret or assume that a woman may be an introvert, be shy, have an undiagnosed anxiety disorder or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), a speech impediment, or some form of a developmental or intellectual disability.

As the article indicates, ideally, a lot of women being diagnosed with autism as adults could have / should have been diagnosed as children. Luckily, these childhood diagnoses are improving every day. Leaps and bounds have been made in the last 20-30 years, and research is ongoing. However, doctors and psychologists alike need to remain vigilant, and keep a close eye on young girls exhibiting similar signs and symptoms, especially since autism symptoms in girls have appeared to be less obtrusive than those in boys.

For more information, here are some more links and resources. Education is so important. Continual learning and studying will help all of us better understand ASD, and start to take away the stigma!

I have immense respect for those who work in special education, work with individuals with ASD, and parents that have children with ASD. My hat goes off to all of you!


April is National Autism Awareness Month. The Autism Society encourages everyone to join them in promoting awareness, action, inclusion, acceptance, and appreciation.

World Autism Awareness Day is April 2nd of every year. It’s one of only four official health-specific United Nations (UN) days.

Several movies have been released, featuring prominent characters with autism or ASD behaviors. Children of the Stars is an award-winning documentary about children with autism in China.

What do you think? Do you know someone that is autistic?

Do you have any ideas about how to help those with ASD?

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Commentary #57: “Trump has no idea how much health insurance costs”


Image Credit:

Even though this article was published well over two months ago, it sparked a fire in me.

Here’s the link to the original post:

Reading this article, I was appalled. Granted, a lot of things about our current President are appalling. But, I digress.

How much do you pay every month, or every pay period, for your health insurance? (This is a rhetorical question, of course.)

I think we all WISH it was as little as $12 or $15.

Sadly, it’s not.

Al and I both are incredibly fortunate to have decent/good employer-sponsored health insurance. This means that health insurance is one of the benefits at the companies where we work. But, even though our employers offer it to us, it’s far from a simple process.

At my work, we can choose from several different options. Depending on what we pick, that factors into how much money we pay. For me, I’ve elected to pay for my plan out of every paycheck, and it’s automatically deducted.

Toward the end of the year, the two of us will sit down and re-evaluate the plans that both our companies offer, side-by-side. We will figure out if we will continue to pay for our own individual plans, like we have been, or if one of us will go on the other’s insurance plan since we’re now married. There are advantages and disadvantages to both of these strategies. So far, it’s worked out that we’ve paid for two individual plans. We will also have other decisions to make when we plan to grow our family. The short answer: Spouses and children are a tad bit expensive (to put it lightly).

I won’t say how much we pay, but it’s much more than $12 or $15 a month. That’s a pipe dream.

I thought this was an interesting link:

I don’t swear by these numbers, but it certainly gives me a good indication at how much prices have skyrocketed!

And, it’s a bit mind-boggling to think/know that every singe state in our country shows different prices.

Recently, I’ve seen multiple arguments / pleas / thoughts about the U.S. needing to convert to “universal health care” or go to a “single-payer system.”

So, what does this mean?

Canada, Australia, Taiwan, and several countries in Europe, offer their citizens “universal health care,” which basically means that health care is provided to everyone, no questions asked. Also, prices are typically lower / more affordable.

That conglomeration of ideas is certainly enticing to many. However, there are trade-offs.

For the most part, many citizens of these countries pay higher taxes.

Non-emergency approved surgery have significantly longer wait times. Sometimes, patients are waiting for at least six months for some surgeries, if not longer.

“Single-payer health care” is sometimes referred to as “Medicare for all.”

The way I interpret it, is that all citizens of a country pay into one pool. That pool of money is used exclusively for all health care costs. In this instance, health care is considered a right, not a privilege.

As some of the sources I’ve consulted point out, the U.S. already has an established single payer system, meaning Medicare and Medicaid. However, only certain people in the U.S. qualify for these programs, such as people over the age of 65, young children, the blind, and people with certain disabilities. Even so, there are strict rules in place. For example, not all states have expanded Medicaid – Virginia is one of those states. If you make too much money, you don’t qualify. And on and on. It’s immensely confusing, and frustrating.

Here’s a list of resources / articles that I found helpful:

In short, health care in the U.S. has become increasingly complicated, convoluted, and expensive. I realize that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) fixed some things, but it also created other problems. A lot of the big health insurance companies, along with the pharmaceutical companies, are purely driven by greed. They only care about the bottom line, not about the patients that are trying to get health care and medicine that they need.

I certainly don’t have the right answer.

In my research, I’m all for making health care more affordable. Every American should have equal access to health care at all times. But, making that happen is a tough challenge. In my view, if our country can revamp Medicare and Medicaid and make those existing programs into universal health care for America, that would be a step in the right direction.

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Awesome Authors #6: Tim O’Brien

Tim OBrien - Quotefancy

Image Credit: Quotefancy

For some odd reason, I’ve been fascinated by the Vietnam War time period for many years. It started around middle school, when I read the Dear America and My Name is America books based in the late 1960s:

  • Where Have All the Flowers Gone? The Diary of Molly MacKenzie Flaherty, Boston, Massachusetts, 1968 (2002)
  • The Journal of Patrick Seamus Flaherty: United States Marine Corps Khe Sanh, Vietnam, 1968 (2002)

Both of those books were written by Ellen Emerson White. In high school, I read another of her books focusing on that time period, a young adult (YA) book called The Road Home (1995).

I also remember studying the Vietnam War in depth in my 20th Century History class as a senior in high school. In addition to history class, I gave a presentation on Woodstock for my Theory of Knowledge (ToK) class.

Maybe it’s because that was the time that my parents were in college and told me various stories over the years. No one in my family was involved in the combat or action, but I’ve read many books and done a lot of research about the war, and the U.S. involvement.

All that said, I can’t remember when I was first introduced to Tim O’Brien and his books. I think it was Dr. Lynch’s ENGL 150 class when I was a freshman in college. Regardless, as soon as I started reading, I was a fan.

Born in Austin, Minnesota, O’Brien had a younger brother and sister. At the age of ten, O’Brien’s family moved to Worthington, Minnesota. The move greatly influenced his writing, and he uses Lake Okabena in his book The Things They Carried (1990).

O’Brien earned a bachelor’s degree in political science in 1968. The same year, he was drafted into the Army and sent to Vietnam, serving there from 1969 to 1970. In 1968, the unit he was assigned was involved in the now-infamous My Lai Massacre.

After his tour in Vietnam, O’Brien started graduate school at Harvard University, and received an internship with The Washington Post. In 1973, he published his first work, his memoir of his experiences in Vietnam, titled If I Die in a Combat Zone, Box Me Up and Ship Me Home.

Since 1973, he’s published eight other works. His most recent publication was released in 2002.

In the present day, O’Brien lives and writes in central Texas. He’s married and has two sons. He teaches full-time every other year at Texas State University-San Marcos. When he’s not teaching full-time, he teaches workshops to MFA students in the creative writing program.

He has been recognized with several honors and awards. Most recently, he received the $100,000 Pritzker Military Library Literature Award, in June 2013.

Going After Cacciato (1978)


Image Credit: Wikipedia

This is the book I remember reading at Longwood. It left such an impression on me for a long time. Cacciato is a member of Paul Berlin’s squad in Vietnam who goes absent without leave (AWOL), trying to get to France.

Critics and readers alike have marveled at O’Brien’s ability to blur reality and fiction, also known as verisimilitude. I think we read this in Dr. Lynch’s class, my very first semester in college, and the discussions we had were just incredible.

The Things They Carried (1990)


Image Credit: Wikipedia

I didn’t read this collection of short stories for any class (I don’t think so, anyway), but writing this post has inspired me to put it on my TBR. This is where O’Brien use of verisimilitude shines.

In the Lake of the Woods (1994)


Image Credit: Wikipedia

Inspired by O’Brien’s upbringing in Minnesota, this book combines drama, mystery, war, and politics. This is also going on my TBR!

July, July (2002)


Image Credit: Wikipedia

I don’t know what it is about class reunions, but whenever that particular topic is explored, I find myself intrigued. This novel is set in 2000, focusing on the delayed 30-year reunion of the class of 1969. This is also going on my TBR!

What about you? Have you read anything by Tim O’Brien?

Come back next month for another installment of Awesome Authors!

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂