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Having a shiny suit was indicative of prestige and prowess as far back as the Bronze Age, but there was still a certain amount of practicality required lest the wearer wind up a very stylish corpse. It has been a little over three hundred years since traditional “battle armor” went out of vogue. Since then, literary and artistic portrayals of armor in all its forms have grown more elaborate and ever less practical.

Let’s start with those head handlebars.

Anyone who grew up with goats or sheep understands this pitfall. In a tussle, those horns make excellent handholds—after all, if you control the head, you control the rest of the goat.


Yes, I know the Samurais and some of the Germanic tribes had them, but ask yourself this: Where are they now?

Not to mention if they were fighting in a forest or anywhere with low hanging objects, one might very well break his neck before ever reaching the enemy. Then there is all that extra weight and limited motion of the head, which is problematic if you want to be able to see what’s coming at you from different angles.

I’m sorry, but you’re not a porcupine.

Image converted using ifftoany

I do not know what this is, but it illustrates my point.

Some artists have drawn armor with these freaky spikes all over the place. That looks really cool and scary, but what happens if you fall or have to bring your arm close to your face? And heaven forbid somebody is able to sneak up on the blind spot created by aforementioned spikes, rips them off, and stabs you with them. That’s going to make for one embarrassing eulogy. Not that you’ll be around to suffer through it.

Apparently, the enemy knowing that you’re a woman is more important than continued breathing.

I could go on for hours about female armor in fantasy. Whatever the case, artists and designers and writers have found a deeply rooted need to point out a character’s feminine attributes.


Now, I concede that there are better examples of objectifying armor out there, but I want to keep this blog PG. All the same, note that Marvel still had to make a point of highlighting her assets.

They don’t stop to think that the dreaded “boob plate,” proudly displaying both bosoms, places a ridge of metal over the woman’s sternum. That’s all well and good until she gets hit in the chest and that metal ridge shatters the bone, sending it straight into her heart and lungs.

And then there’s the problem of no armor at all.


Here we have the most recent incarnation of Conan, armoring pretty much everything except his vital organs. He must think those abs will stop any sharp objects that go for his torso.

I thought about making this specifically about female characters in nothing but metal lingerie, but I’ve also seen male characters in nothing but metal loincloths. They have so little shielding, they might as well be running out there naked. Anyone who’s walked a hyper dog in shorts understands why combat nudity is a bad idea. If a puppy can scratch you up like that by just being playful, how much worse do you think a sword is going to be?

Maybe I’m a snob about these things. It is fantasy and that means a certain degree of artistic license. However, I often find it hard not to laugh/sneer. Especially women’s armor, just…ick.