This could be a sign of a more progressive direction for the 24-year-old card game.
Image: MTG Card Database/Wizards of the Coast
There's a new character in the trading card game Magic: The Gathering called Naga Vitalist, a humanoid serpent who doesn't have big boobs. This fact left me both surprised and elated.
Let me explain.
According to Magic: The Gathering's website, there are 37 different planeswalker characters. In the MTG universe, a planeswalker is defined by its hyper-powerful persona, beyond that of an ordinary mage. They’re the faces of their worlds and act as a potential playable cast of the game. Of this 37, 16 are women. Six are seen in full armor or clothes, while the other ten are in skimpy armor or clothing, usually with low necklines that show off a lot of cleavage. For example, the planeswalker Liliana Vess:
Other, non-planeswalker cards, aren't immune to the trend of large breasts. Take for example, Reversal of Fortune, Vampire's Bite, and Hero of Bladehold. You can't even see the woman's face on Vampire's Bite. The focus is strictly on her barely clothed torso.
The trend is not humanoid exclusive either. The card Wild Nacatl depicts an anamorphic tiger falling from the sky, rack first. Even the dead are not excluded. Morkrut Banshee, which is literally a woman whose body is otherwise rotting and withering away, has colossal breasts.
Fantasy has consistently proven itself to be a boys' club. The inclusion of femme characters, meaning those who have female qualities but might not identify as female, is often based on what is considered tolerable femininity—sex appeal. Large breasts are not inherently sexual, but their manipulation by male artists and writers for male consumption has transformed them into an entrance fee for many femme presences.
However, in this world of large-breasted mythical chicks, there’s a card that’s a shimmering, slithering, beacon of hope for fantasy femmes. Arriving in the 2017 release of the Amonkhet expansion is Naga Vitalist: a lady snake with an unusually desexualized depiction. Her arms bend back slightly; her gold corset-clad chest protrudes forward—she’s in the ideal pose to display a massive rack. However there’s no large set of boobs under her corset. Not one ounce of reptilian bosom.
It would have been too easy for James Ryman, the card’s artist, to draw an absurd and out-of-place set of boobs on this snake. As abnormal as a snake with boobs is, in MTG, and fantasy as a whole, the idea is not farfetched.
Every preconceived notion I have gathered from playing MTG leads me to expect this snake to have large breasts. MTG caters to male satisfaction so ardently that even a banshee woman undergoing physical decomposition has massive, intact, boobs.
Naga Vitalist’s lack of huge jugs leaves me hopeful. Since Amonkhet is such a recent release, I hope Vitalist’s inclusion is a sign that the game is desexualizing more of its femme characters. Deviating from male-gaze based sexualization opens a new role not only for femme characters, but also for players. The expectations of the non-male role in MTG might just be taking a major progressive turn.
For whatever reason, there are not preposterously huge boobs on this snake. Indicative of change or not, I am elated. As well as thankful to James Ryman. Major shout out to both him and Naga Vitalist, the flat-chested wonder snake.
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