Sexed-Up Starfire Doesn’t Sit Well with 7-Year-Old Fan

Dear DC Comics Editors,

In response to your new Catwoman and Starfire comics, I’m not going to rant like Comics Alliance (though you need to read that) or Andrew Wheeler (also an excellent read) or Ms. Snarky (you may want to take notes on that one.)

Instead I’m going to hand over my forum and let someone else speak for me. Pay attention, DC. To the left is my 7-year old daughter.

And for good measure, below is my 7-year old daughter as she falls asleep most nights, reading.

Both of the books she’s reading in the photos are yours, DC. And furthermore, she bought them both with HER money: her allowance, birthday and Christmas money. She gets at least one graphic novel and one book for major holidays. She buys superhero movies (we’ve managed to see all the major releases this year except Green Lantern and she’s loved them all.) She has a full-sized cardboard cut out of Spiderman guarding her bookshelf.

Most importantly? Starfire is her favorite hero.

So today I showed her your rebooted Starfire. She is not happy with you, DC. Here’s what she has to say.

Why do you like Starfire?

She’s like me. She’s an alien new to the planet and maybe she doesn’t always say the right thing, or know the right thing to do. But she’s a good friend, and she helps people. She’s strong enough to fight the bad guys, even when they hurt her. Even her sister tried to kill her, but Starfire still fights for the good side. And she helps the other heroes, like Superboy and Robin and Raven.

She’s smart too. And sometimes she gets mad, but that’s okay because it’s okay to get mad when people are being mean. And she’s pretty.

What do you think about her costume (below) in the Teen Titans comic book (2003-2008)?

Well, she’s a grown up in that picture, not like in the Teen Titans cartoon, so if you’re a grown up and you want to wear something like that you can. It’s okay.

Tell me about the Starfire in the picture.

That’s where she’s starting the Teen Titans again. She’s helping the kids learn how to use their power and not be as sad because their friends died. She even protects them from grownups who want to tell them what to do.

Does that outfit make her pretty?

Well, no. It shows lots of her boobs though.

What does make her pretty?

Her long, pretty hair.

What about this Starfire? What do you think about her? (Below, from DC’s just-released Red Hood and the Outlaws)

I can see almost all of her boobs.

And?

Well she is on the beach in her bikini. But…

But?

But, she’s not relaxing or swimming. She’s just posing a lot. [My daughter appears uncomfortable.]

Anything else?

Well, she’s not fighting anyone. And not talking to anyone really. She’s just almost naked and posing.

Do you think this Starfire is a good hero?

Not really.

Do you think the Starfire from the Teen Titans cartoon (2003-2006) is a good role model?

[immediately] Oh yes. She’s a great role model. She tells people they can be good friends and super powerful and fight for good.

Do you think the Starfire in the Teen Titans comic book is a good role model?

Yes, too. She’s still a good guy. Pretty, but she’s helping others all the time and saving people.

What about this new Starfire?

No, I don’t think so.

Why not?

Because she’s not doing anything.

Is this new Starfire someone you’d want to be when you grow up?

[She gets uncomfortable again.] Not really. I mean, grown ups can wear what they want, but…she’s not doing anything but wearing a tiny bikini to get attention.

So, you know I’m going to put this on my blog right? [She nods.] Is there anything else you want to say?

I want her to be a hero, fighting things and be strong and helping people.

Why’s that?

Because she’s what inspires me to be good.

See, it’s not about what they’re wearing, though that can influence things. What makes a hero is WHO they are, the choices they make and the things they do. If my 7-year-old can tell what you’ve done from looking at the pictures (there is no way I’m going to let her in on the whole emotionless random, amnesiac sex plot line) why can’t you see the problem here?

If this is your attempt at being edgy and reaching out the huge female comic audience out here, then I look forward to when this crap collapses around you so someone who gets it can take your place. We’re looking for good stories and great heroes. This just isn’t it.

Reprinted with permission from Michele Lee.

Photos of Michele’s daughter top left courtesy of Lee; photos of Starfire from DC Comics under fair use. All rights reserved.

Comments

  1. Your daughter is wonderful. Insightful and smart! I couldn’t have said it better.

  2. Wow…a 7 year old is saying this. I couldn’t have said it better myself. She’s a smart girl. Out of the mouths of infants and babes…..

  3. Nicola Smith says:

    Excellent comments from your daughter. :)

  4. Very smart girl!

  5. Your daughter gives me hope. :)

  6. You should never expect good things from DC comics~

    Teen Titans and Batman are the only two things worth the time, and the fact that they now have to resort to sex is making me laugh. You’re daughter is a smart little girl, I hope she picks up on Marvel soon =D

  7. thank you to your daughter. she is a hero,because it takes a certain strength to say the truth even about your trusted superhero. I have a 15 year old who has temporarily lost her convictions in favor of acceptance and image. I hope your daughter will continue to speak the truth
    no matter what anybody else says!

  8. You raised your daughter right :) I hope I can do the same someday, and make sure she knows what you do is much more important than how you look.

  9. This is great. My eight year old daughter is also a huge fan of comics. She doesn’t get this kind of thing at all either. It’s so ridiculous that comic book artists still think this kind of objectification is fine! Wise up guys, it’s not just nerdy teenage dudes that are reading this stuff anymore.

    These girls will just have to grow up and make their own comics. It’s already happening, take heart. Be sure that she checks out Magic Trixie, Zita the Spacegirl, the Amulet series, and Lunch Lady – all awesome comics, with strong young female characters.

  10. And nowhere does she state that book is rated for teens, not for a 7 year old. Featuring a character that was created 30 years ago, long before there ever was a cartoon. Slanted much?

  11. Sex sells, and I don’t think the opinion of a seven-year-old is going to change that. If their target demographic were elementary school girls, I’m sure they’d have some editing to do. But based on these pictures and your description of the plot, this is meant for a different age group and these specific illustrations for a different gender.

    Comic book characters tend to go through many many changes throughout their existence. This sexy costume change, while distasteful to some, might be enjoyable to more people. Ultimately, the free market will choose her outfit, not your daughter or the aspirations of any other seven-year-old girl.

    Also, do these sexy illustrations in any way add to the “random emotionless amnesiac sex plot line”? If so, then maybe they’re there for a reason. Maybe not, but just a thought.

  12. Green Crayon says:

    I love the insight from your daughter. However…

    I hate how some people do not do the research. Starfire is a character made long before the cartoon, along with the other characters they were reimaged to be shown on screen. Starfire was not always cute bubbly and adorable.

    Starfire was a princess who’s planet got beaten in a war and sold into slavery, her sister tries out right to kill her several times. You can see why it was toned down for cartoons, look into the other characters back stories, most of them are not pretty in the least.

    The Comics may have had a teen rating, considering Marvel is rebooting comics (Look up the new wonder woman costume, which was toned down, given pants and covered up) and making them more appealing to older teens, geeks, and people that have been fans of the series for years.

    Don’t get me wrong, I loved the cartoon, but cartoons are easier to understand, and western cartoons are spaficly aimed and kids, (not saying your kid is dumb, or anything) Comics are usually harder, it takes me a few reads of one comic to under stand whats going on.

    And… The comic book drawers, writers and artists ared different from the first they came in, new people are coming in (fans that got lucky in drawing their favourite heroes) and changing a lot, characters over the years have gotten so many reboots they need an offical tally. I wouldn’t be surprised in ten years that the comics will pick up again and would be siuted for seven years olds to read.

    Basicly, Marvel comics, DC comics and pretty much most comics are not good for a seven year old to read unless it’s from a newpaper or a kids magazine.

  13. I think while some have pointed out that the comic in not necessarily meant for 7 years olds, I think it’s a question to ask: Is the objectification of females, women that are supposed to represent strength and fighting power, is turning them into lazy bikini posing models okay for any age?? I mean, it’s not about what’s appropriate for a seven year old, it’s what we (women) tolerate…

    Someone said, sex sells. Sure, duh, it does. But, does that make it right? Shouldn’t companies who publish art/graphic novels/stories THINK about what MESSAGE their art is sending, instead of going with the status quot of selling mags? I mean if Ms. was in the business of just selling mags, then they would put naked women on their cover, but they’re not, they don’t.

    I guess I feel like the thoughts from the 7 year old are more profound than something people are taking them. I feel like saying sex sells, is also like saying, well it’s a fact: Rape is a tool of war. Sucks, but that’s the way the world works. And until we end war, that’s how it is. Tough. When we should really be doing is trying to end war, rape and bring more and more discussion to the topic.

    I wonder what a 7 year old would say about war….

  14. cindy ridgway says:

    This is yet another example of women being objectified and not seen as people…Nancy Drew ended up with a bad make over as well.

  15. Lauren Donna says:

    This seven-year-old’s insights are so refreshing. I hope she continues to be this aware of society’s unhealthy sexualization of reality and am hopeful that she will not fall into the traps that diminish so many girls growing up. Michelle Lee, you are raising an amazing girl. Thank you.

  16. I agree. The point is not that who the target audience is, it’s what kind of images we as a society tolerate and encourage. A female, nearly naked (and it appears, extremely surgically enhanced)”superhero” is insulting and gross.

  17. Tom Boughan says:

    The glaring error is that Starfire did predate the cartoon.The cartoon toned down the sexy costumes that Starfire did wear in the comics.Not the other way around.The only thing new is the bikini drawings.She was to attract attention of nerdy teen boys and am glad the cartoon show was sensitive to little girls and toned down her sexiness and more on her good character qualities.

  18. Thank you both! I was a rabid fan of The New Teen Titans in the 80s and adored Starfire for not being what she appeared to be. Marv Wolfman & George Perez created wonderful young women in their book and I am disappointed and angry that DC has treated Kory like this.

  19. O.K. If a FRIDGING SEVEN YEAR OLD GIRL says that the way Starfire looks now in the new DC reboot is bad, and honestly doesn’t feel comfortable looking at her, DC is SERIOUSLY doing something wrong. (Now I think I have an idea on why Marvel is so popular out of the two comic companies). Also, your daughter is going to grow up to be a very smart, respectful, honorable, and sensible woman. Maybe she should work at DC and FIX STARFIRE. She’d probably write her better than the real writers.

    • DC isn’t doing anything wrong. They’re very accommodating to a range of ages. There are Teen Titans comics based off the show and are 100% clean as well as Tiny Titan comics which are for younger audiences who can’t read too well yet and are even cleaner. The book she purchased here was for an older audience. Saying she looks bad in the new reboot is silly – she hasn’t changed from how she was originally. The kid’s show re-invented her for a younger audience. DC has comics appropriate for the 7-year-old. It’s a parent’s responsibility to make sure the child purchases the book meant for her age range.

  20. I totaly agree. When I was seven or eight years old (I’m a teenager), I remember watching Teen Titans with my friends. I had my heart set on a Starfire pillow out of a crane machine at six flags. I spent like $20 bucks in quarters. Starfire was my favorite. When I saw her in the new comics for the first time. I was appalled. How can they do that to a kids childhood hero?

  21. YES!! SOME faith in humanity restored! Your daughter is awesome! <3

  22. Starfires always been an emotionless sex prop from the very beginning ages and Ages ago have you not read the one from the 80s were she answers the door in just a thong and dick graysons jacket sure in teen Titan starfire was sweet and cute and what not but honestly are they gonna portray her as an emotionless sex prop in a Princess Leia bikini obviously not they falsely portrayed her, and moving on to red hood and the outlaws yeah she does nothing in the first issue but is it called STARFIRE and the outlaws no it’s redhood his story, and if you read more you’d find out tamerainas have short attention spends and don’t remember much they just want pleasure and to screw a few people up in the process, and on all my RHATO comics they have a T rating god it makes me mad stuff like this I think it’s an awesome comic series it’s through the eyes of anti heros you should know right then it there that this is not for a 7 year old but it’s whatever say what you want SHE’S BEEN THE WAY SHE IS NOW BEFORE THE FREAKING REBOOT

  23. Mike Jones says:

    its understandable where shes coming from and its wonderful to see a child with such logic but the “sexe’d” up heroines are mainly for the male audiences, its almost expected for a female to have this point of view, but as it was stated Starfire is still the same role-model, from your daughters perspective she was just posing, but its a drawing, Starfire in her bikini is a dead giveaway that she wants to relax, the poses are just whats called fanservice; the strong moral Starfire your daughter likes is for her, and the bikini is for the boys, it has too be for all audiences not just one target it stretches across the board as far as possible, appealing to as many audiences as possible.

  24. “Sexed-up”? That makes it sound as if she weren’t created like that. The more accurate statement is that the cartoon’s Kory was sexed-down to fit the younger audience. The comics shouldn’t be getting any bad-talk for keeping her as she is because a new show re-invented her. Truth is the show and the comic aren’t made by the same people, although there -are- Teen Titans comics based off the show. Those are clean and made for the younger audience.
    Starfire wasn’t a children’s character to begin with. It’s cool that someone took her and made her fit the younger audience, but a parent getting angry that a book kept its character as it was originally because a spin-off made her different is pretty unfair to the company. Help your kid find appropriate-aged comics so she isn’t disappointed in where her money went and everyone can be happy :)
    The cover was pretty open in showing the characters are different from the show and Star’s outfit can be seen clearly. I say it’s a shame the little girl didn’t get what she hoped she would, but it’s not DC’s fault. Like I said, they do have appropriate-aged comics and they even have some for younger kids called “Tiny Titans,” which are easy to read and even teach children about how a comic can tell stories without words. DC tries hard to open its comics to various age ranges so no one has to be left out. Just check the age-range on the book.

  25. jaded opinion says:

    Yeah ok so originally she was “sex uped” …so then it’s not really a reboot just spewing out the same old crap DC and Marvel normally do. Personally I’ve never been into super hero genre comics (I have tried them, they start of good and then go into a loop of sameness)

    Maybe they could “reboot” (another way of saying unintuitive remake. come up with some different ideas rather then feasting of past success show some creativity) her to be a more powerful useful charecter. I don’t mind a bit of sexiness in a charecter boy or girl but if thats the main thing then bland boring….arrr.

    If you want good comics try “Love and Rockets” or those short stories written by niel gaimenl, some anime/manga (I can’t really name any sutible for a 7 yr old though other then puella magi madoka magika and pokemon.

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