El sent in a really interesting example of the re-fashioning of a real body into one believed to be more appealing to consumers. In the video below, real footage of gymnast Shawn Johnson is shown alongside the video game designed to allow Wii players to “play” her. El notes:

…the video Shawn is significantly thinner and long-limbed whereas the real Shawn has a short muscular body. The real Shawn’s leotards are red and blue, while the video image is wearing a pink leotard. In addition, the hair of the video version is blonder.

There has been a clear effort here to feminize the image of Shawn and to make her body conform to less athletic ideals… While Shawn’s name and fame is used to sell the video (presumably primarily to little girls), the video sends the message that Shawn herself must be altered, even though I would guess most people buying the game are fans of Shawn, know what she look like, and admire her as she is.

Lisa Wade, PhD is an Associate Professor at Tulane University. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture; a textbook about gender; and a forthcoming introductory text: Terrible Magnificent Sociology. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram.