I’m an enormous Wonder Woman fan.
So much so that for as long as I remember, it’s been the go-to for most people I know who want to give me something (Meriah’s birthday? Oh, hey! Wonder Woman card/frame/keychain/t-shirt/headband/notebook/socks/earrings/poster/pen). Totally not complaining over here – I always love it.
I was really, REALLY excited about the new movie, and hustled up friends (many of whom are also family!) to go and watch it together.
And YES, the movie lives up to the hype. Gal Gadot is brilliant as Wonder Woman – she blows it away. Robin Wright thrilled me, and the cinematography was outstanding. Total standing ovation from this one here.
Except for one thing, and you know what?
It kind of pisses me off that I’m in this position – it’s just like, WHY, Wonder Woman? Why’d that have to happen and flatten my marshmallow?
Did you see it? If not: a sort of spoiler: the villain lady is scar-faced.
She has the creepy sort of scar-mask on her face, and at the end, it’s blown away and you get to see her facial scars in full glory (contrasted of course with Wonder Woman’s facial perfection).
It’s just like, COME ON, give me a freakin’ break! Why did you have to follow the tired old evil-crip trope here? Can we please let that go?
I’m a grown woman now and I’ve completely accepted my facial scars. I wouldn’t change them now (even if I could). But can you image what it would have felt like to 5 year old Wonder-Woman loving self to have seen the bad-guy being a scar-faced lady?
I mean, wrap that around in your head for a minute.
I went through the windshield of a car at 4 years old. My face was completely cut open – I have a long scar that goes all the way down my entire forehead, slices open my eyebrow, and divides the eyebrow with scar tissue. My lip was torn, and another scar reaches from my lip to my chin.
When I first went to school, my name was not so much “Meriah” as it was “Frankenstein’s wife” and “Scarface.” Not a big deal now, ok, I’m not saying this stuff to make this post into some kind of tear-jerker. But it was not easy and yes, I looked up to Wonder Woman as a bad-ass that I could be.
So, knowing that there are other little girls out there who love Wonder Woman and look up to her as symbol of a strong, gorgeous woman who can harness truth and expel evil, then see the visual example of their own little scar-faced selves in the sadistic Dr. Poison…. kind of breaks my heart.
You could have done better, Hollywood.
You didn’t need Dr. Poison to have scars, or any kind of disability. You could have made her just as gorgeous; you could have even created a scar on Wonder Woman – Lord knows she’d still be sexy – you could have really shaken it up in a new way, just like you did with everything else in the movie.
At this point, it’s annoying that I need to make a movie that is so awesome in other ways to be a “teachable moment” with my kids… (is anything disability-related in the media ever not a “teachable moment” with my kids?!). I mean, even as I was writing this post, my 4 year old son Mack came up, saw the pictures in this post and asked of Dr. Poison, “who is that lady? Is she a good guy or a bad guy, mommy?”
Please keep the scar-stuff in mind and talk to your kids about it. Challenge your kids to think about the disability trope – that concept that Hollywood often promotes that the bad guys usually have a disability, or are evil in some way. I mean, it’s one or the other, right – evil or pitiable?
Make this a teachable moment even if you are sick, like I am, of ‘teachable moments’ just so when your little girl grows up and becomes a director, she’ll be doing the remake sans tired disability trope.
Some posts to read up more on this:
- Evil Cripple
- Disabled Villains
- Common Portrayals of Persons with Disabilities
- Disabled Characters in Fiction
More Posts on Wonder Woman and Disability:Dr. Poison & Disability in Wonder Woman, Geeky Gimp
Facial Difference as Evil in Wonder Woman, Carly Findlay
Meriah Nichols is a counselor. Solo mom to 3 (one with Down syndrome, one on the spectrum). Deaf, and neurodiverse herself, she’s a gardening nerd who loves cats, Star Trek, and takes her coffee hot and black.