Wonder Woman is dumped as an honorary UN ambassador after uproar over her 'skimpy costumes, big breasts and white skin'

  • The heroine was made an Ambassador for the Empowerment of Girls and Women
  • But the October announcement was mocked because of the character's history 
  • She has often been shown with big breasts and skimpy, swimsuit-like costumes 
  • Protesters also said her whiteness made her unrepresentative of many women
  • The ambassador role was abruptly pulled by the United Nations this week
  • The UN said it was always going to end; others didn't expect it to be over so soon

Two months after she was made an honorary ambassador by the UN, Wonder Woman has been fired from the position.

The superheroine was given the role of Honorary Ambassador for the Empowerment of Women and Girls in October - raising complaints from those who thought a swimsuit-clad white woman with big breasts wasn't diverse or empowering enough.

Now, after a public backlash, the indestructible Greek demigoddess has been abruptly sent packing back to Paradise Island - although the UN is downplaying the surprise departure.

Screen hero: Wonder Woman was portrayed by Lynda Carter (right) in the 1970s TV show, and is now played by Gal Gadot (left) in the new DC Comics movies, such as Batman V Superman

Over-exposed? She was made a UN ambassador this year, 75 years after her creation. But critics said her busty physique and skimpy clothes were inappropriate


Wonder Woman was created by William Moulton Marston, who also helped invent the polygraph 'lie detector' machine and was an afficionado of bondage and submission roleplay - what's now known as BDSM.

Marston openly wrote on the topic, calling it a 'respectable and noble practice', and it became a defining influence on Wonder Woman.

Inspired by what he saw as the more honest nature of women, and by his free-spirited wife Elizabeth, he intended the heroine to be not just a hero who triumphed through 'love' but also 'psychological propaganda for the new type of woman who should, I believe, rule the world'. 

The couple lived in a menage-a-trois with a woman, Olive Byrne, whose bracelets inspired Wonder Woman's own bulletproof jewelry.

The hero first appeared in All Star Comics #8 in December 1941, wearing the 'Bracelets of Submission' that, if bound by a man, would take away her super strength - although she generally freed herself without relying on a man.

She also had the lasso of truth, inspired by Martson's own lie detector work, which would compel people to tell the truth once Wonder Woman had tied them up.

Perhaps predictably, she would often end up tied up too.

'It's ending because it's ending. And it was always meant to end,' UN spokesman Jeffrey A Brez said.

'The objective was to reach out to Wonder Woman's fans and I think we did a great job of that.'

But nothing in the announcement - which was unveiled in a glitzy ceremony featuring Lynda Carter, who played Wonder Woman in the 1970s TV show, and Gal Gadot, who took on the role in Batman V Superman - suggested it would end so soon.

During the October 21 unveiling ceremony at the UN, many staffers silently turned their back to the stage, some with their fists in the air.

UN staffers also started an online petition, eventually signed by more than 44,000 people, that asked secretary-general Ban Ki-moon to reconsider.

'Although the original creators may have intended Wonder Woman to represent a strong and independent "warrior" woman with a feminist message, the reality is that the character's current iteration is that of a large breasted, white woman of impossible proportions, scantily clad in a shimmery, thigh-baring body suit,' the petition read.

The appointment was tone deaf at a time when real women are fighting against sexual exploitation and abuse, and that there were plenty of real heroines that could be the face for gender equality, critics said.

There were questions about whether the character's current portrayal as a violent, sword-wielding warrior was a positive role model for young girls.

And Wonder Woman being nominally American - in the comics the character emigrates from Themyscira, or 'Paradise Island', to the US - was also questioned.

Defenders of the decision pointed to the character's pioneering, feminist roots and her muscular bravery. 

Protest: Angry UN staff turned their backs as the character was declared the UN Honorary Ambassador for the Empowerment of Girls and Women. Some objected she was too white

Real deal: Two protesters at the UN hold up signs complaining that real women should have been given the role, while another appears to object to real women being used as mascots

In a statement, DC Entertainment, which owns character, said it was 'extremely pleased with the awareness that this partnership brought' as well as 'elevating the global conversation around the empowerment of women and girls.' It added that Wonder Woman, who turned 75 this year, 'stands for peace, justice and equality.'

Wonder Woman's image was to be used by the UN on social media platforms to promote women's empowerment, including on gender-based violence and the fuller participation of women in public life.  

The Wonder Woman appointment came after many women were dismayed that another man, Antonio Guterres, the former prime minister of Portugal, was chosen to be the next secretary-general, even though more than half the candidates were women 

Honorary ambassadors - as opposed to goodwill ambassadors like Nicole Kidman and Anne Hathaway - are fictional characters.

The UN previously tapped Winnie the Pooh to be an honorary Ambassador of Friendship in 1998 and Tinker Bell, the fairy from the Peter Pan tales, as the honorary Ambassador of Green in 2009. 

Gal Gadot made her first appearance as Wonder Woman in this year's Batman V Superman. Her own movie - titled Wonder Woman - will be released in June 2017.

Wonderful: Gadot and Carter (both pictured foreground) were at the UN's announcement ceremony in October

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