The First Female Super Saiyan?

Dragonball Super is the latest series in the beloved anime  franchise.  It has fans all around the world and has been around since its first appearance in manga form in 1984. Through the years it has had various characters that have appeared in movies and TV series. There are female characters in various capacities. All through the years viewers have seen super saiyans. They are mostly male, but that has changed now. It seems Dragonball Super will have its first female super saiyan. This is more significant than some fans realize. It means women characters will be given more roles than just minor support. Chi Chi was at one point a martial artist, but has settled into a domestic role. Bulma was never a fighter, but was important and helpful being the creator of the dragon radar. Android 18 is a fighter, but has not trained seriously. Videl seems to have given up martial arts. She could be making a comeback in this upcoming arc. Pan at this point in the series is still a baby and not a fighter yet. The currently unknown Saiyan in the series is rumored to be from universe six. The preview for episode 76 exposed her in super saiyan form. What also should be noted is the character design. This new female character when transformed looks immensely powerful. Her muscles resemble Broly’s  and fans now believe she is related to that character in some way. This does not seem possible, because Broly is not exactly cannon. It is too early to tell, but it could be a homage to Broly in this series. The depiction of a muscular body type rather than a slim one is a progressive and creative decision. The character is one of many that are generating interest this season. This character will either be an antagonist or a protagonist, but it marks a major change in the role of female characters in the Dragonball universe.

               This new character will may be hard to classify in certain tropes. Strong women fall into various tropes either being negative or positive. The amazonian beauty presents the strong or muscular woman as a role model. The brawn hilda is more pejorative depicting them as unpleasant or grotesque. From the little footage available it is hard to say if this new character could fit into any of these tropes. Her regular form does not look strong, but when the transformation happens she looks bigger than Goku.

The difference is her face does not become altered  and the torso still contains feminine proportions. She is not exactly Broly in a dress, but her biceps could rival his. The character does not fit into either category of the strong woman tropes. This may not be an awful development and could allow for more creative possibilities. The hope is that the writers will make the character interesting and not resort to the same stereotypes or formulas done ad nauseum . There also is a possibility of another trope that befalls many strong female characters ( in both the physical and mental definitions). The capable woman is killed, when it would seem that she has the skills to survive. However, death in the Dragonball universe seems to be undone by wishes from the dragonballs. Whether protagonist or antagonist characters sometimes make there way back to the series.

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The hope is that this new character will be given some development. The series has a tradition making fun and entertaining characters. She needs to be more than just a muscle head fighter. Each character has a specific personality. Goku’s carefree attitude, Vegeta’s temper, Krillin’s loyalty, and Picolo’s  wisdom are their trademarks. This new character must have a signature as well.

       The fan reaction to this character seems divided. There are fans who are excited to see new characters and this one has become one of intense fascination. The more negative response is that there are fans who hate the character design and claim that female super Saiyans are not possible. There is no reason why there cannot be. This character is from another universe in which the Saiyans were not killed by Frieza. It is only fair to give the character a chance and watch the story arc before making such judgments. There are some who say that this makes the series more insane than usual. The series at its core has always been rather strange. The Dragonball series is in many regards a parody and homage to other action anime and elements of Asian myths. The series combines comedy, action, fighting, and adventure. Along with the amalgamation with peculiar characters it makes the manga and anime unique. It is excellent that it continues to reveal a much wider environment. While male fans may not be comfortable with a muscular woman character or a female super Saiyan, they could change their minds depending on the success on this story arc.

        The question remains why did it take this long to have a female super Saiyan  or another serious female fighter? Too many are quick to say sexism, but this may not be the case. They appear in DBZ video games. Although Pan is just a baby she has the potential to become one. It has been rumored that Akira Toriyama just had difficulty designing a female super Saiyan to his liking. The fan art community has already produce renditions, so it can be done. These range from fan art from characters based off the show or movies as well as DBZ inspired original creations.

 Toriyama and Toei animation want to produce a high quality character. This may be the reason it took so long. This is more significant than some people realize. It is the first time women characters are being presented out the traditional tropes ( damsel in distress or token female  ) or merely being support characters of no major consequence. The female characters that did fight or play important roles were reduced to the background ( Videl, Android 18, and Bulma ). Dragonball Super does attempt to give most of the characters both minor and major screen time. This unknown female Saiyan  is progress in the right direction. The point is to make your female characters just as interesting and lively as your male ones. They should not just be present for no reason.

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This is not from the show, but fan art. It seems some are enthusiastic about this character. 

For female Dragonball  fans this should be a joyous occasion. There is now another female hero that you call one of your favorites. Andriod 18 appears to be in the Survival tournament form what can be gathered by the promotional images. This is what keeps the franchise fresh and exciting. It is willing to experiment in different ways. The future seems unclear, but it will be a surprising story arc. If she written right this unknown female Saiyan could become one of many popular Dragonball characters.

The First Female Super Saiyan?

Gym Public Service Annoucements

Here are some public service announcements through animation. These feature some pointers on gym etiquette, why women should exercise, and what not to say to fitness women. This is not to reprimand, but to make viewers laugh and think about their behavior in particular settings.

Don’t Stare at fitness glutes 

There is an issue in which some men will stare for long periods of time at a woman’s posterior in a gym setting. This makes women feel uncomfortable, especially if they do not want the attention. There is nothing wrong with admiration, but harassment is never acceptable. It should be an environment that is comfortable to everyone. Women do not go to the gym to find dates. It is tempting to look, but one should learn to control themselves .

You Have The Right To Your Opinion But It Doesn’t Give You A License To Be Rude 

The look of muscular women generates many responses. They can range from negative, favorable, or indifferent. The image obviously may not be to everyone’s preference or taste. This however, does not give the person who has disapproval of the look to insult or disparage a woman who decides to form a muscular physique. Ostracizing the muscular woman has subtle sexist overtones, due to the fact the same people would not attack the image of the muscular male. These women are dedicated athletes and are not doing this for the sake of male approval. It is for the success in their sport. Society has become so shallow that it only values women for their appearance, rather than their accomplishments or ethical character. This is just another form of beauty, at least to people who support this endeavor for women.

 

Women should Lift Weights 

There has been objections to women lifting weights. They are claims that mainly focus on the more vain belief system of appearance. Weightlifting is an effective method for weight loss and can increase bone strength and metabolic rate. Although the most important element of this is health, it can enhance the female figure. It should be realized that women will not automatically look like a bodybuilder if they lift.That would be the equivalent of saying women will be able to play basketball like Skylar Diggins, if they just touch the ball.  It takes years of training and specialized diet to make such a physique possible. Some may even experiment with performance enhancing drugs. The concept of “bulkiness” is not a good description considering most female bodybuilders weigh less during competition. There is nothing wrong with large muscles on women. It should understood that there age different types of  women  and they can appear however they please.

Gym Public Service Annoucements

Penpraghai Tiangngok

Penpraghai Tiangngok is an IFBB professional fitness and physique competitor. She is Thai and has gradually become distinguished as one of the Asian country’s most recognizable competitors . She stands at 5 7” and weighs 137 lbs. Tiangngok is a relative neophyte to the bodybuilding sport, but is working her way up the ranks. She reveals that ” in high school I ran track and hurdles and university where I studied sports science.” Penpraghai Tiangngok’s  athletic past seems to have lead her to strength sports. Before she entered bodybuilding she states ” I used to lift weights for assistance work  for my running, but I did not seriously work out until I met my boyfriend.” When she stepped on stage,  she won her first competition. Tiangngok  won in the figure category in the Thai Nationals in 2010. It appears Asian women are making their mark in international bodybuilding competition. What drew Penpraghai Tiangngok to the sport was in her words ” I like fitness because it makes me feel amazing.” Tiangngok  also has said ” I love being strong and pushing my limits.” Her athletic career is still in its early stages in the IFBB, but there is still surprises that she can produce.

      Penpraghai Tiangngok saw a turining point in 2012. The 2012 Titans Grand Prix Pro saw her place a dismal eleventh. She was able to reverse this with getting to third place at the IFBB New York Pro that same year. When an amateur becomes a professional the body of competition becomes more difficult. Being originally an competitor of the figure category , she made a transition to the physique division. This sometimes is more of a challenge for some competitors, but Penpragahi was able to balance size and conditioning requirements.

One interesting aspect about Penpragahi is that she made history in 2011. She is Thailand’s first IFBB pro. This is an event of significance for Thai people and Asian women . It not only demonstrates that athletes can be produced anywhere no matter which nation, but that being a woman in any nation will not be a hindrance. Asia is often stereotyped as a misogynistic and  least progressive continent, however this is changing. It is a change for the better. Penpraghai Tiangngok can be an inspiration to aspiring Thai athletes, both male and female. If you have the competitive drive, it is achievable. It is hard being a bodybuilder inn Thailand.  Penpraghai Tiangngok has spoken in interviews “female bodybuilding and bodybuilding in general is not popular in Thailand.” Her victory at the Juliette Bergman Classic  gave her emotions of both joy and satisfaction. She really did not contemplate winning or becoming the first Thai  IFBB pro.  Unfortunately, she had sustained a fractured wrist before the competition. For moment she was not able to train her upper body as much, but recovered before the actual competition.

To maintain this body, Penpraghai Tiangngok eats a specific diet. Her main protein sources include chicken, turkey breasts, lean beef, lean fish, egg whites, and whey protein isolate. Her sources of of carbohydrates include rice, oatmeal, sweet potatoes, beans, peas, and quinoa. Penpraghai Tiangngok   consumes fruits and vegetables with every meal. This is an immense amount of food to maintain muscle. Being so physically impressive Tiangngok says she gets more attention then she wants.  Penpraghai Tiangngok says “normally I cover up, although I do like to dress sexy as well, so from time to time I put on my mini dress and high heels and tease the guys.”

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 Penpraghai Tiangngok also does fitness modeling. This should be no surprise considering she has developed a physique of high pulchritude.  She also has revealed that she enjoys modeling calling it ” a great experience.” Penpraghai Tiangngok also said that “you get to meet interesting people who are real professionals in the field.”She also appreciates the fact she can go and see new places. Fans normally say that her best body part is her glutes. Penpraghai Tiangngok does not do any specialized exercise for her lower body, bu instead does sumo deadlifts, romanian deadlifts, and loves to do the glute hamstring raise . She trains her hamstrings and lower back  twice a week.  She not only looks strong, her lifts prove it.  Penpraghai Tiangngok can bench press 220 lbs and can both squat or deadlift 400 lbs.    Penpraghai Tiangngok is going to be an important part of the physique division  in the coming years.

        Penpraghai Tiangngok also participates in mixed wrestling. She has appeared in Utopia Entertainment and Scissor Vixen videos. When she headscissors people you can tell it would be painful for real.  Penpraghai Tiangngok also can be seen in some videos for Herbiceps. When she appears in mixed wrestling productions her stage name is Fon. Usually some of these videos are faked for the sake of theatrics, but with Penpraghai Tiangngok the holds are genuine. She has no background in wrestling, but seems to have learned at least some moves and techniques.

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Considering this woman is capable of squat’s that reach 400 lbs her legs can do considerable damage. Her thighs measure at 24 inches including 15 inch calves. According to her Utopia Entertainment wrestling page her favorite holds include the headscissor and the grapevine.  Allegedly, she has taken an interest in learning martial arts. This seems more like a hobby rather than to add to her mixed wrestling credentials.  Penpraghai Tiangngok does do sessions and from most clients the reviews are positive.

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She has generated a following on social media. Her Instagram page contains 1,999 followers . Her Facebook page contains 2,715 flows and 2,745 likes. This is how a new generation of athletes expose themselves to a wider audience. With such a following, it is odd the IFBB does not promote the women’s physique division more. The gatekeepers of the IFBB do not see the potential and opportunity they are missing.  Penpraghai Tiangngok  although based in Thailand can reach a global audience. The relatively new physique division has some impressive talent emerging and it most be promoted.   Penpraghai Tiangngok is one of those athletes that could be an excellent representative. She returned to stage in 2016, after a brief hiatus ( not from training)  to compete again. Her performance in her getting first place in the IFBB Rising Phoenix Arizona Pro. It is clear she will be on the competitive circuit for a longtime.

Penpraghai Tiangngok

Happy Inauguration Day

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It is unfortunate that American politics has come to a point in which far-right extremist views are acceptable. Hate or general violence directed at immigrants, African Americans, and women will become  the norm under a Trump presidency. Donald Trump and his supporters dream of a United States that is of the 1950s  in which racial discrimination was common and women had little power in society. While Donald Trump’s racism is well documented, what people forget is his misogyny. Women have accused him of sexual misconduct and tapes exposed a crude side of his personality. A Republican dominated Senate and House of Representatives means Trump has a free hand to implement policies that could be potentially devastating to the United States. There is limited hope for the future, but people can still resist. That is why it is important to support the Women’s March on Washington. Let it be known the citizens of the US will not tolerate oppressive measures by a Trump administration.

Women’s March on Washington

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Happy Inauguration Day

“My, what dimorphic parents you have!” From Family Inequality Blog

My, what dimorphic parents you have!

Another post was composed on Family Inequality in regards to unrealistic body types in Disney cartoons and animated features. The author is a sociologist by trade, but still does not grasp the concept of animation and character design. The posts belong to what the author refers to as the animated gender series. The problem with this is Phillip Cohen does not care for exaggeration in character design. The whole thesis is that unrealistic images of sexual dimorphism are a projection of sexism. These images the are used as a model for how men and women should look or even act. While there is an element of truth to this argument, to blame the general character design of a particular studio is an inaccurate assessment. Too often we see the muscular man and slim woman body archetype. Yet, there are instances in animation in which it is reversed or completely different. If Cohen wants to make a cogent argument all of the Disney animated material should be examined . This could include animated series and films as well. This post is brief and he asks why the level of sexual dimorphism from the characters in Frozen. The explanation is related to character design and animation styles.

              The point of animation is to exaggerate human features. There are cases in which realistic depictions are shown in animation. Fantasia (1940) had segments that were outlandishly cartoon like to more traditional artistic presentation. Cohen then uses Moana’s parents to show how abnormal the body proportions are.  He explains in the following paragraph :

“His big toe has the same diameter as her wrist. His unflexed bicep is wider than her waist. (Sources say the voice actor for Maui has 20-inch biceps, while a real life-sized Barbie doll would have an 18-inch waist, compared with 31 inches for a typical 19-year-old woman.) Anyway, it’s ridiculous.”

The point is that the characters are suppose to look humorous or unusual. Large eyes, varying heights, weights, and general appearance makes a cartoon character memorable. Animators develop a style, which becomes their recognizable signature. Disney over the years had developed this model of large man and thin woman. The claim here is that body diversity is not present. That is not the case if one does through research. Maui and Moana’s dad are not the typical muscle man. Maui is large, but does not have the traditional male heroic physique. The author then tries to counter this fact by saying ” there are a lot of large bodied Polynesian people in societies.”Then claims it is not a sex specific pattern. Sexual dimorphism is present in every ethnic group around the world. It seems that he has some stereotypes about one group, while recognizing another common one.  He the later expounds : “If  the difference is in racial or ethnic context for the families, then maybe extreme dimorphism among parents helps signify the exoticism of the culture depicted.” If this is the case, then may be we should question whether or not this is borderline racist caricature. When Europeans colonized the islands they either depicted Polynesians as lazy, fat, exotic, or primitive in literature, film, or other media . The fact the author gets his data from wikipedia on obesity rates from the Polynesian islands seems to be a confirmation bias of a prejudice he could personally have.   That could be a more convincing argument. Cohen the realizes that black men are stereotyped as having superhuman bodies, but there are no tiny women tropes. That is not true. One notable trope relevant to discussion is the pint sized powerhouse. This could be a man or woman with large amounts of strength who just happens to be diminutive in size.  This trope appears in cartoons as well as film.

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A small woman trope as seen in Dragonball Z ( 1989-1996). Android 18 fights Tien despite her size.
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There are two stereotypes surrounding the Polynesians. The first is one of obesity and the other is the image of super human athlete.

Stereotypes appear in all media, but white men are least effected. Seeing as Phillip Cohen is white he has no understanding of this.  Which makes him less qualified to even discuss body image distortions in regards to women. He does not deny that sexual dimorphism is a fact, but cannot grasp the elements of animation. It takes features such as hands, noses, ears, and  body shapes and distorts them. Human being have to ability to change their bodies to extreme either through plastic surgery, exercise, make-up, or even sometime in the future genetic engineering. When men and women alter their bodies sex differences in size do not disappear.

 Men and women do alter their bodies to impressive degrees in some sports. The exercise and physical training in some regards makes sexual dimorphism more obvious. Men are on average taller and stronger than women. The basic Disney character design accentuates this more. The characters of Moana and Maui represent this unrealistic exaggeration. The point is to make the characters recognizable and unique in a particular style. There are some people in real life that resemble cartoon characters themselves.

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Maui is too endomorphic to be classified as being part of Herculean dimorphism.  It is a great development that a male antagonist is give a different body type.
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A woman and a man who developed their bodies to the highest level.  At first glance it would seem they both jumped out of a comic book.

The core of character design is to be outrageous in appearance. There is also a problem that arises from these depictions. Portraying women as only slim could induce body image issues in young girls. Women or girls who are muscular or larger could be made to feel ostracized or abnormal. There is a subtle form of sexism in this. It enforces a gender role that men are always more powerful and there fore should control women. These convictions can be challenged. Not only that, a repeated use of a particular character design can stifle creativity. Animation should be willing to experiment with different styles and designs. This creates an enriched and wonderful cartoon. Phillip Cohen refuses to see this in the perspective of an artist.

        The author presents small amounts of evidence. There does exist in Disney cartoons and others were the slim female body is not the model. It is not simply being a bit larger, but the presentation of a muscular and powerful body. This could be called amazonian dimorphism. This model has not appeared in Disney animated films, but more so series.Disney animated series such as Dave the Barbarian, Pepper Ann,  The Emperor’s New School , The Proud Family,  and Darkwing Duck .

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The Proud Family (2001-2005 )  features Penny Proud as a superhero in one episode.
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This is Candy from Dave the Barbarian (2004)
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Although it was just in the intro it depicted a strong woman in the show Pepper Ann (1997-2000).

One could make the guess that Disney in their TV series is more open to a different character design. Seeing as it is animation these transformations in TV programs can be either temporary or permanent. It would still be relevant to include both categories. The bodies shown on the characters deviate from the standard Disney depiction of women.If Phillip Cohen did his research of the Disney library of animation, he would see that his argument is not as potent. Then he mentions How to Train Your Dragon, when that is a Dreamworks film. If the focus is solely distorted body image models in Disney films, other media should not be mentioned. The reason he may do this is to show it is not solely a problem with Disney. However, if you continue to examine it further beyond Disney his argument then collapses. The occurrences of these muscular body types on women are rare in Disney animation, but more prevalent in others. The prevalence of comic books gives source material for animated series. Whether  it is Marvel or DC their characters have appeared in animated cartoons over the years.Characters such as Black Cat or She-Hulk would not fit the Disney Princess measurements.

Even cartoons that are comedy focused vary in body type representation occasionally.These also include one shot characters and recurring characters in animated series. Again, it should be noted that many of these representations function around tropes. This does not only occur in animation from the West, but other countries. If Phillip Cohen wanted to truly prove his point he would include animation from other nations . The West has a habit of thinking that it has a monopoly on all art forms. This ethnocentric worldview is not only prejudiced, but historically inaccurate. Many cultures have borrowed from one another and art is no exception. Japanese anime has become a global phenomenon having fans and devotees on every continent.

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Elle Ragu as she appears in Shadow Skill (1998)
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Jun Auska from  the Iron Virgin Jun OVA based on a one shot manga (1992).
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This is Genie from Rune Soldier Louie (2001)
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A one shot character as she appears in Yu-Ghi-Oh! GX (2004-2008) . She is Tania.

It seems amazonian dimorphism has a presence in animation across the globe. The evidence seems to not demonstrate that body representation is a limited as previously thought. The vast plethora of action, comedy, or adult animation series do vary in character design. This is a positive development, but also should continue. There also develops another problem of exchanging one model for another. There is a possibility that the amazonian dimorphic model could be another unrealistic standard pushed on young girls.This may not even happen seeing as appearance of women of various body types is rare. There is however gradual change. The human body has often been sexualized or racialized throughout history. Cohen admits that Black men have been stereotyped as superhuman. This is routed in the enslavement of African peoples in the Western hemisphere. The superhuman myth was designed to justify physical violence against the enslaved. Whipping or the mutilation of limbs was acceptable, because it was believed Black people could handle more pain than normal. When discussing Moana   and comparing the parents from Frozen  there is another stereotype that emerges. It shows the “civilized” European compared to the “savage” Polynesian. Either intentionally or unintentionally Disney continues the racist idea of the noble savage. Suddenly, one realizes that Phillip Cohen’s claim “I’m not sure how to interpret this” is disingenuous.

         This  fixation that some social justice advocates have on ignoring sex differences is rooted in the idea that a difference means that women are unequal. Sex differences in terms of biology are not the reason women have an unequal position in society. It is rooted in the lack of property, income, equal employment opportunities, and disparities in education. Also that lack of reproductive rights is a method to control women’s bodies. For a longtime throughout history women were considered property. It was thought that men’s greater physical strength was used to also control women. This is not a complete explanation, because access to weapons can negate this and the fact there are women who can be stronger than men.Control of laws and the economic system was more effective than brute force. Sexual dimorphism is not the culprit of inequality. Political, economic, and legal systems are. Most of these systems favor men over women and only recently are being challenged. Relevant to this discussion, it should not bother anyone that sexual dimorphism is depicted. However, there should be concern that their is not a variety of multiple body types depicted in animated subjects or films. It may influence how children think they should look and attempt to aim for an unrealistic standard. Besides this problem character design will become limited and unimaginative. Another issue is with the characters themselves. If one is  solicitous about female characters in animation, there should be questions asked. Why are there so few compared to male ones? Do they have developed personalities other than just being one dimensional stock characters such as the damsel in distress, mother, or girlfriend? These problems seem more urgent than actual appearance of the creation itself. Moana is a great character because they gave her some personality. This cannot be said of other Disney female characters of the classic era. The change really happened in The Little Mermaid   and Mulan  .  Those animated films had great examples of developed female characters. Only if the formula that Moana  has continues there can be effective change.

“My, what dimorphic parents you have!” From Family Inequality Blog