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For God’s Sake, Let Female Heroes Have Ponytails!

black widow, wonder woman, dreamer and captain marvel all need a ponytail.

We love a good superheroine around here. They’re strong, smart, compassionate, daring—and nearly to a one, they need to get their damn hair out of their faces.

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For me, I can barely function with my hair flying in my face. I need a ponytail or braid or bun or something to keep my mane under control just walking around, so I can’t imagine going into battle with my hair falling in my eyes. It’s not only annoying, it feels like this would be dangerous? Don’t you need minimal distractions and full vision to fight evil? And one of the reasons I wear my hair back is I know it’s very flammable, but it’s also grab-able. This is about simple precautions!

I know it’s silly to be concerned with reality in shows and movies where women are jumping over buildings or using dream energy to make laser beams out of their hands or something … but seriously. Give these women ponytails.

Supergirl -- "Back From The Future Ð Part One" -- Image Number: SPG511B_0204b.jpg -- Pictured: Nicole Maines as Nia Nal/Dreamer -- Photo: Dean Buscher/The CW -- © 2020 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.

Nia, I know you’re psychic but how can you see?????

The problem here is, of course, that female superhero looks are not actually designed for practicality. They are designed for aesthetics. Very often (not always) these looks are meant for the male gaze, which demands femininity and sexiness from women on screen, and they’re also often based on comic book designs that reduce women to boobs that defy physics and impossibly long hair that doesn’t stop.

It’s not like these women don’t sometimes put their hair back. There are lots of instances where we see our powerful women in a pony or something similar. When we first meet Diana in Wonder Woman, she has a nice, practical braid going that befits a warrior …

But by the time she’s on the battlefield, she’s got her locks falling in her eyes. Couldn’t we even use the tiara as a headband? It’s as if the more powerful a woman becomes on screen, she has to get sexier and her look more improbable in proportion to compensate for her strength.

Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman

One of the worst offenders is Captain Marvel. Not only does Carol sometimes have a sweet mohawk helmet thing in space, but not to fight on earth, the entire plot of the movie could have been resolved move quickly if she just put her hair up in a ponytail and saw the power dampener thing on her neck.

Brie Larson as Captain Marvel in the movie of the same name.

Marvel can be particularly egregious about this, which is why we appreciate that here’s been some improvement in recent years—we love Hope Van Dyne’s often practical pony and the fact that she sometimes even gets to look sweatyEndgame gave Carol her iconic hair cut, and the badass warrior women of Black Panther have gorgeous hairstyles that are also practical in battle. But there’s still work to be done in the MCU.

Black Widow’s hair changes for every movie, but at least it’s slowly become slightly more practical. After having her hair nicely put up for parts of the Iron Man 2, Natasha takes it down to do her big fight scene and it’s of course so it can be sexier and we can get beautiful hair flip cinematography (this applies to many heroines).

It’s just exhausting that we’re not only supposed to be okay with a woman donning a corset and skintight gear to go into battle but she also apparently goes to the salon beforehand. And again, I know these are movies with flying robots and magic space gods, but so much of the design of modern superheroes is meant to look practical and real … and we can get one hair tie into the action?

Natasha romanoff in black widow

At least things look better in the Black Widow film coming soon, thank god. If Natasha was real, she’d have a hair tie around her wrist under her gauntlets because every woman with long hair always has a hair tie close by.

Are things better on television? Eh … not really. We have Kate Kane a rocking nice, practical looks in her day to day life …

ruby rose as kate kane in batwoman

And then putting on a wig that obscures her visibility to fight crime!! At least but the bangs behind the bat ears!!! You’re just giving the bad guys something to easily grab!

The Arrowverse and other superheroes on TV are rife with women with limited fields of vision due to design choices.  I can’t imagine how annoying it is for actresses trying to do fight choreography with so much fluff in their faces, but they’re professionals.

And I would be remiss here if I didn’t mention that there are definitely some guys who could stand to get their hair back too. I’m talking to you, Cisco, Thor, Loki, and friends. At least some of those get a nice slicked-back look or a partial ponytail one in a while.

What’s the point here? Well, mainly that the tendency of movies and television to focus on what looks cool or sexy isn’t very practical most of the time. I know that applies to pretty much everything in genre media, but this one is such a simple fix and it annoys me the most.

Especially when these are smart, savvy heroes going into battle, I do wish they’d get their hair out of their eyes more often.

(featured images: Marvel, Warner Brothers, Dean Buscher/The CW)

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Jessica Mason
Jessica Mason (she/her) is a writer based in Portland, Oregon with a focus on fandom, queer representation, and amazing women in film and television. She's a trained lawyer and opera singer as well as a mom and author.

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