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WASHINGTON (CAP) - Female comic book characters tend to have much larger breasts than real-life women, according to a new study out of the Pew Research Center.
The study, which looked "very closely" at more than 100 female superheroines and sidekicks, found the average character's cup size to be closer to 38DD than to the national average of 36C, says Dr. Francis Spitznagel of the Pew Center.
"Our team of 24 researchers spent close to six months comparing color drawings of female comic book characters with photographs of human models dressed in Spandex bodysuits similar to what you might find in a comic book," explained Spitznagel. "The findings were very curious."
Spitznagel pointed out that his researchers found characters like Ms. Marvel, Dawn and of course Wonder Woman to be "improbably busty," to the point where, if they actually existed, their prodigious bosoms might actually interfere with their ability to fight crime.
"Our researchers would carefully measure the breasts of the characters using an adjustable utility micrometer," explained Spitnagel. "They would then do the same for the female models and compare the results."
The work was fairly grueling, said Spitznagel.
"Typically we would have a team of six working for about 20 minutes before they would have to take a break and be relieved by another team," he continued. "Usually they'd each go off by themselves for a few minutes of alone time and come back much more refreshed."
He continued, "We originally thought we'd only need six or seven researchers, but in retrospect it's probably a good thing that everyone insisted on volunteering."
The results have raised concerns among some who cite them as proof that comic books are promoting unrealistic body image. "How can a girl compare with a She-Hulk or an Emma Frost, or even a Mary Jane Watson?" asked Darlene Fortenski of Mothers Against Everything (MAE). "Why can't comic book characters look more like regular women, like maybe that nice Janeane Garofalo? She's so funny."
And some thought the study should have gone even further. "I recognize there might be a problem with women in these comic magazines, but what about the men?" asked James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, Inc. "Like that Mighty Thor, with his long blond hair and bulging pectoral muscles and tight leggings - and the way he lets that massive hammer dangle wherever he goes..."
Dobson then excused himself, citing the need for some alone time.
Spitznagel pointed out, meanwhile, that there might be some follow-up studies, based on the reaction from the public and the enthusiasm of his research team.
"In fact, we have a group right now doing an in-depth study involving life-size blowups of Power Girl comic books," he said, pointing out a team of researchers dressed in shin-length raincoats.
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