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Female armor: Fantasy vs Reality

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14:09   |   Jan 05, 2019

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  • This episode of Shadiversity is brought to you and sponsored by 'Campfire'.
  • Not 'A campfire', that would be silly. 'Campfire' is a really sophisticated
  • writing tool. If you're a writer like me and love to delve into sci-fi and
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  • you can organize all the characters, all the plot lines and the
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  • usually goes into stories like this. So go check them out, there is a link
  • in the description below.
  • Greetings, I'm Shad.
  • And I want to talk to you a little bit about female armor, which is an interesting kind of
  • thought or idea because historically there wasn't really such a thing as
  • 'female armor' in that sense. Armor was just armor and if a female
  • wanted to wear armor, they would wear normal armor. Why? I'll get to that in a
  • second, because there is a kind of realm in which female armor is very specific
  • and prominent, as opposed to male armor. It's not in history, it's in fantasy. So
  • why is that? Why is female armor so defined now? I actually should kind of
  • point out what type of female I'm talking about here, because there is the
  • 'female armor' that's always the bikini and stuff like that. If you're interested
  • I've made a whole video addressing the 'barbarian bikini armor' kind of trope to
  • find out if it could actually be feasible and realistic. So that's a whole
  • video onto itself. I don't want to talk about bikini armor, I want to talk about
  • say full plate armor that is made to emphasize and kind of shape to the
  • female form. One of the ways that you'll see this depicted in fantasy artwork and
  • stuff like that is of course there is a prominent kind of bulge around their
  • bust to emphasize the female form. And some of these designs don't seem too
  • implausible or impractical, in fact they kind of seem realistic. So if they are
  • realistic, why didn't they exist in medieval times in actual history? And why
  • would we even want armor shaped to a type of form to emphasize a visual image
  • or look in the first place? Good questions. Let's dive into it. I'll
  • address the latter question first. The first thing we need to understand that
  • armor was actually made to a very specific type of aesthetic. We have to
  • understand that this is very different to our modern sense of fashion.
  • There are many cultures in the world that have a very different aesthetic or an
  • idea of what looks interesting or appealing, and when we actually combine
  • the two - cultural differences and differences between the past and present -
  • we see some pretty darn big variations. Look at China in the past where it
  • was seen women very little feet was very very
  • attractive and appealing; we see certain African tribes where if they stretch out
  • their bottom lips or years - that's a turn all right; and also in European cultures
  • we see certain periods in history - it wasn't universal throughout every time
  • in medieval history and Renaissance and other things like changing cultures,
  • but women that had a bit more plump were seen as more
  • attractive. And in regards to what they found as certain things attractive in
  • men? Well, there is a thing called the codpiece. So, comparing the past is also
  • like comparing vastly different cultures in regards to aesthetics and also just
  • what they found appealing. They also had a vastly different perspective on what
  • was proper and improper. In the modern day we would find something
  • like the codpiece to be not only ridiculous and unattractive, it is like
  • weird and strange, like 'What?!' But in that time it was seen as a very manly kind of
  • thing to have a bulge in that area, and some of those bulges were rather extreme.
  • There is another aesthetic kind of feature that was seen as particularly
  • attractive in men in the past that applies very directly to armor. But just
  • before we hop off of that codpiece thing, it shouldn't surprise us
  • that these aesthetic influences were actually applied to armor as well. Look
  • at Henry the eighth's armor, and what you see there? A big old...
  • A big old honking codpiece paid out of metal made into his armor itself. So
  • they actually incorporated their aesthetic preferences to armor. So the
  • idea that we have in fantasy, where fantasy designs are made to look
  • aesthetically appealing, is not foreign or unrealistic. We did it in history, but
  • we did it with a very different aesthetic in mind.
  • It was the medieval as setting. This is the historical setting! Now, if you want
  • more information on this idea of the medieval aesthetic as opposed to our
  • modern sensibilities and ideas of what looks attractive and stuff like that,
  • Ian LaSpina from the YouTube channel 'Knyght Errant' has made a full video on
  • this very subject. It is so good, so informative! So I really would just go
  • check it out. There's a card there and a link in the description below.
  • Medieval aesthetic - really good! And one of the other aesthetics that people really
  • appreciated, and this was kind of seen as a manly thing, were really thin waists.
  • Having a very tight thin waist was seen as attractive and manly. And so what do
  • we see in armor design? Very very thin waists in some circumstances. Because we
  • have to remember, once again, the medieval period wasn't a homogeneous hole. There
  • were different cultures and things changed between time periods, because the
  • medieval period was a long period in time, funnily enough. What I find interesting
  • in fantasy, and this isn't a criticism - it's something I actually like and
  • appreciate - it's that fantasy doesn't have to be restricted completely to what
  • we did in history. Even if they base it in a medieval setting, because it's
  • fantasy we can take some liberties. I tend to criticize those liberties that
  • are taken outside the realm of practicality, realism and believability -
  • let's keep it at least functional; but if we keep it functional there are
  • certain liberties we can take. For instance applying a modern aesthetic to
  • our fantasy medieval designs. And this is often done quite a lot. Have a look
  • at the male armor. You won't actually find historical armor in this
  • shape, but could you make armor in this shape? Yes! Yes, you can. What are the
  • differences? Well, it's done and designed to a modern aesthetic. And so what is the
  • modern aesthetic for manliness and strength and power? It's usually
  • broad shoulders, a fairly solid chest. It has a bit of a silhouette
  • thin waist, but not nearly the wasp thin waist of medieval times and their
  • aesthetic. But this is our aesthetic, and honestly, because we appreciate and
  • understand this cultural appeal, that looks pretty impressive and cool!
  • And so when we apply this same standard to female armor, again I think it's
  • actually not too unrealistic. But if the medieval people's had such established
  • and understood aesthetic styles, why wasn't that applied to female armor of the
  • medieval period? Well, there's a very simple and basic answer to it.
  • Barely any females wore armor in the medieval period.
  • No, there are certainly cases when they did, I mean everyone will point to Joan
  • of Arc and other things like that, but we have to understand that these are the
  • rare exceptions to the norm. The standard was that women didn't fight. This wasn't
  • men saying you couldn't fight, it's the fact. In reality most women, when given
  • the choice, would choose not to fight. And an actual fact - most men, when given
  • the choice, would probably choose not to fight unless there's a cultural kind of
  • emphasis on protection and also courage and manliness and stuff like that, which
  • I actually feel is a good thing, because you want the people who are most
  • well-equipped to protect society. To protect society - and men, on average being
  • stronger than women - those are the ones that you want in the
  • battlefield. So developing a culture around men needing to be brave and
  • courageous and protecting those weaker to them is a positive thing and
  • beneficial for society as a whole. And I also feel there are certain biological
  • instincts like men being very naturally competitive and aggressive that help men
  • out protecting others and stuff like that when channeled in a positive
  • good direction. So this should not surprise us in any measure that men for
  • the larger majority of history were the ones who were wearing armor and fighting,
  • and because of that armor was shaped to fit their actual physical form and
  • emphasize the forms that people in the past found to be attractive, impressive.
  • The interesting thing about this is that armor by its design actually can fit the
  • standard female form just as easily as the standard male form. And remember,
  • it's because I said 'by its design'. For instance, there's actually a cavity
  • on armor. If you look on a breastplate,
  • the plate does not sit flat on your chest, it actually sits above and there's
  • a bit of a dome. And oftentimes medieval design had an emphasis on what they
  • found attractive. The dome was actually lower around their body. It didn't make
  • them look fat because it was followed by a very thin waist, but that dome was
  • usually lower. And the reason why it was domed is that there's greater chance
  • for a weapon, when it strikes, to deflect off a rounded smooth surface, than if it
  • was just flat there. But this doming on the chest and the dome does raise up.
  • There is a bit more of an emphasis, usually on low, but it is also domed and
  • there's space between the actual breastplate itself and your
  • chest. There's enough room in there for a woman's bust to fit in quite easily, and
  • so it doesn't actually need to be made different to accommodate for female
  • anatomy as opposed to male anatomy. Also, on average, women tend to have more
  • rounded hips and the pelvis area than men, but that's the same thing with armor.
  • If you have a look at the armor where the fold comes out from where the
  • breastplate matches, it's actually got room between the edge of the fold and
  • your hips. This is actually put in the armor so you can maneuver it around and
  • actually bend around your waist, so there needs to be room in between which
  • actually accommodates for anyone with larger hips than the average man. So the
  • reasons being the fact that armor actually is made to be able to accommodate
  • for the female form, and the fact that so few females actually wore armor - we do
  • not see historical armor that's made specifically to emphasize and also
  • present the female form as opposed to the male form. But... A but here. If
  • there was a situation in history where a large majority of females actually ended up
  • fighting to the point where their armor was starting to be made specifically for
  • them, I feel there is easily precedent in history to point out that
  • armor was made to emphasize physical appearance. And in our historical case it
  • was physical male appearance, but that's a precedent in my mind, and so if armor was
  • being made for women and cultures were different historically, I actually feel
  • armor would have been made to emphasize female appearance for females wearing it.
  • It would still be fully practical and functional but it would be made with
  • very specific intent. And what would be some of the differences? Well, I think the
  • bulge that you generally see on the armor instead of being a bit lower would
  • be a bit higher to emphasize the bust.
  • Maybe that wasp-thin waist probably would still be kept the same. The hips
  • would probably be kept the same. Really the only difference that I think you'd be able
  • to point out very specifically is the emphasis on the chest area. Most of the
  • other armor segments don't need to be changed at all. With our modern
  • sensibilities we don't really associate a wasp thin waist with something that we
  • see as a manly physical shape, and the funny thing is we actually more
  • associate that with female appearance - having a really thin waist,
  • but that's already there in medieval historical armor. But if we wanted to
  • take that to a fantasy setting where we only wanted to impose a modern aesthetic
  • to the appearance and design of the armor, we wouldn't actually see such
  • wasp thin waist like we see in medieval armor; we would actually see a bit
  • broader, certainly larger - basically what we see in medieval fantasy artwork.
  • And the realistic female armor designs are perfectly fine in my opinion - talking
  • about fantasy specifically. If you're setting your world in a
  • medieval setting, you need to understand: custom-made female armor that emphasizes
  • a female form - to my understanding, I haven't seen any examples of this, didn't
  • exist historically at all. But in fantasy - all power to you: there's precedent,
  • there's logic to it, and it also looks really cool! So awesome! So there we go.
  • This has been a detailed look, looking at female armor, comparing the historical
  • precedent, and also what we can do in fantasy. So thank you very much for
  • watching, I hope you have enjoyed, and if you're wanting to hear more of my
  • thoughts on specifically female armor, for instance can bikini armor, be
  • realistic in fantasy and stuch (stuff+such=stuch), do go check out that video. I hope to see you
  • there, and until that time, farewell.

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Try Campfire free for up to 20 days over at https://www.campfiretechnology.com/ get 15% off using the code SHADJAN until February 1st.
Was Historical medieval female armor at all similar to how it is often depicted in fantasy art?

Knyght Errant video on the medieval aesthetic: /watch?v=M47pqSmkK1Q

Can barbarian and female bikini armor be realistic: /watch?v=7Iw_RD_h6bc

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