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Catsuits and bodysuits in popular media: Wikis


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Woman in a black latex catsuit

Catsuits are a recurring costume for fictional characters in various media, as well as for entertainers, especially for use in musical performances. They are sometimes referred to as "bodysuits", especially in reference to a full-body suit worn by a man (although bodysuit usually refers to a legless garment); catsuit is typically used only in reference to women.[1][2] The catsuit has been identified as a film-makers costume of choice for stealth.[3] In films like Irma Vep, Les Vampires and Heroic Trio, crime and catsuits are featured together, as well as its major original use in Alfred Hitchcock's To Catch a Thief.[3][4] A trend of bodysuits was observed by film reviewer Alan Farrell in his book High Cheekbones, Pouty Lips, Tight Jeans, and a number or occurrences of the garb in films were mentioned - Charlize Theron in Aeon Flux, Mila Jovovich in Resident Evil, Jennifer Garner in Elektra, Halle Berry in Catwoman, Carrie-Anne Moss in The Matrix, Angelina Jolie in Lara Croft, Kate Beckinsdale in Van Helsing, and Underworld, and Raquel Welch in Fantastic Voyage.[5] The trend of leather and vinyl catsuits were identified as an attempt to redefine the gender role of women through films.[6] Theresa L. Geller described the catsuit as a part of the Hollywood tough chic paradigm in an article published in the journal Frontiers.[7] That view was shared by Sherrie A. Inness in her book Action Chicks, which also included computer games and professional wrestling in that paradigm.[8] The Action Heroine's Handbook describes the catsuit as one of the three options of the first rule of thumb described in the book: "Dress to accentuate your best physical assets".[9] Action Chicks: New Images of Tough Women in Popular Culture by Sherrie A. Inness describes catsuits as an iconic garb of female TV and film characters.[10]


Movies and television series

Notable uses of catsuits or similar full-body garments include:

Music videos

Ola Salo of The Ark in a leopard-print catsuit

Notable uses of catsuits or similar full-body garments include:

Video and computer games

Notable uses of catsuits or similar full-body garments include:

Post-modern thesis

In a post-modern thesis on the superhero genre Michael Lecker wrote, "In the superhero genre, clothes do the talking through semiotics, which [Roland] Barthes discusses in depth in his work: The 'first, literal message serves as a support for a second meaning, of a generally affective or ideological order' (Roland Barthes[36]). The cat suits that adorn the feline hybrid characters in this genre are firstly illustrating their connection to felines. On the ideological level, the costumes signify the attributes that our society has projected onto cats and that the characters embody."[37] In another post-modern thesis on sadomasochism in cinema Andrea Beckmann wrote, "Cinematic SM is twisted into the non-consenting, violent realm of the unhinged that we know it is not. Fetishism is used as an excuse for a bit of titillatory semi-nudity, or to identify the villain – the man in black leather. Horror films, in particular, will happily throw in a leather catsuit or a gratuitous bondage scene to spice up a mediocre script (M Olley, Pam Hogg: Warrior queen of the catwalk[38])."[39]


  1. ^ Bodysuit,
  2. ^ Catsuit,
  3. ^ a b Paula Deitz, Origins of Casual Style, New York Times, 1989-08-20
  4. ^ Danger clad in a catsuit, The Age
  5. ^ Alan Farrell, High Cheekbones, Pouty Lips, Tight Jeans, page 15,, 2007, ISBN 1430304340
  6. ^ Elyce Rae Helford, Fantasy Girls, page 6, Rowman & Littlefield, 2000, ISBN 0847698343
  7. ^ Theresa L. Geller, Queering Hollywood's Tough Chick: The Subversions of Sex, Race, and Nation in the Long Kiss Goodnight and the Matrix, Frontiers - A Journal of Women's Studies, Volume 25, 2004
  8. ^ Sherrie A. Inness, Action Chicks, page 72, Palgrave Macmillan, 2004, ISBN 1403964033
  9. ^ Jennifer Worick, Joe Borgenicht and Larry Jost, The Action Heroine's Handbook, page 73, Quirk Books, 2003, ISBN 1931686688
  10. ^ Sherrie A. Inness, Action Chicks: New Images of Tough Women in Popular Culture, page 72, Palgrave Macmillan, 2004, ISBN 1403964033
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ Nick Morrison, "Catsuits? I'd rather wear nothing at all.", The Northern Echo, 2004-06-16
  14. ^ Dennis Fischer, The Avengers, St. James Encyclopedia of Pop Culture
  15. ^ a b Bill Osgerby and Anna Gough-Yates, Action TV, page 225, Routledge, 2001, ISBN 0415226201
  16. ^ Dave Thompson, "Black and white and blue: adult cinema from the Victorian age to the VCR", ECW Press, 2007, ISBN 1550227912, p.215
  17. ^ Valerie Steele, Encyclopedia of clothing and fashion, page 80, Charles Scribner's Sons, 2005, ISBN 0684313944
  18. ^ Dave Rogers, The Complete Avengers, page 89, Boxtree, 1989
  19. ^ Gillian Freeman, The Undergrowth of Literature, page 5, Nelson, 1967
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^ Efrat Tseëlon, Masquerade and Identities, page 74, Routledge, 2001, ISBN 0415251060
  23. ^ Temple Drake and David Kerekes, Headpress Guide to the Counter Culture, Headpress, 2004, ISBN 1900486350
  24. ^ Jami Bernard, The X List: The National Society of Film Critics' Movies that Turn Us on, page 151, Da Capo, 2005, ISBN 0306814455
  25. ^ Paul Tatara, "Irma Vep" puts stake in the heart of current cinema, CNN, 1997-06-12
  26. ^ Stacy Gillis, The Matrix Trilogy, page 120-121, Wallflower Press, 2005, ISBN 1904764320
  27. ^ Laura Avery, Newsmakers 2004 (Sub Part 4), page 353, Gale Research, 2000, ISBN 0787668060
  28. ^ Merle Ginsberg, Sugar and Spice, W (on High Beam), 200-12-01
  29. ^ Sarah Street, Costume and Cinema, page 94, Wallflower Press, 2001, ISBN 1903364183
  30. ^ Susan Carpenter, "Matrix" magic maker, Los Angeles Times, 2003-05-15
  31. ^ Kym Barret biography, Future Design Days
  32. ^ Michele Orecklin, In the Future, Black's Back, Time Magazine, 2003-05-12
  33. ^ Phil Farrand, "Trek Silliness: The Top Ten Oddities of Star Trek: The Next Generation" The Nitpicker's Guide for Next Generation Trekkers New York: Dell (1993): 241
  34. ^ Carol Clerk, Madonnastyle, page 132, Omnibus Press, 2002, ISBN 0711988749
  35. ^ James R. Blandford, Britney, page 60, Omnibus Press, 2002, ISBN 0711994196
  36. ^ Roland Barthes, The Fashion System (Trans. Matthew Ward and Richard Howard), page 28, Hill and Wang, 1983
  37. ^ Michael Lecker, Treacherous, deviant, and submissive: female sexuality represented in the character Catwoman, Bowling Green State University
  38. ^ T. Woodward (Ed.), The best of skin two, page 19, Richard Kasak, 1993
  39. ^ Andrea Beckmann, Deconstructing myths: the social construction of "sadomasochism" versus "subjugated knowledges" of practitioners of consensual "SM", University of Lincolnshire and Humberside

Further reading

  • Meredith Levande, "Women, Pop Music, and Pornography", Meridians: feminism, race, transnationalism, Fall 2008, Vol. 8, No. 1, Pages 293-321
  • Valerie Steele, Fetish: Fashion, Sex & Power, Oxford University Press, 1996, ISBN 978-0195090444

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