The issue Edit
Women in geek communities face the same issues that women outside those communities do with regard to body image. Broadly speaking, women are exposed to strong pressure to conform to societal beauty norms.
Geek women may be more aware of these pressures than their non-geek peers, but a range of body image expressions exist in geek culture. These expressions range from outright rejection of popular standards (see Fat Acceptance), through acceptance, and into enjoyment of both 'mainstream' and 'geek' fashion. This can extend to clothing, makeup, body size and attitude.
There is a perception, although unresearched, that fat women are more common in geek culture than outside it. If true, this may be because women who do not conform to mainstream beauty standards may be drawn to communities which are more accepting.
A broad range of body shape, appearance, and dress is accepted in geek communities. However, geek women are still confronted by a number of negative messages when attending geek events and consuming geek media:
- Advertising for technical products may use sexualised images of women which show an unreasonable standard of beauty.
- Comic book art, SF cover art, computer game graphics, and the like often show women whose bodies don't even conform to the laws of physics.
- In online communities, geek men may express a preference for traditionally beautiful women (Sarah Michelle Gellar was a common example during her Buffy heyday) and denigrate "ugly" women.
All these things can lead to an environment where women who aren't mainstream-beautiful feel that they are ignored or unwanted (See Othering).