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Even mutants aren’t immune to body insecurities in “X-Men: First Class”

By June 10, 2011 2 Comments

X-Men's Mystique struggles to accept herself as she is.

When I went along to see X-Men: First Class on opening weekend, there were certain things I was expecting to see.


I knew that it was set in the 1960s, so I was expecting a bit of a swinging retro vibe.

I expected a few references to the other films.

I was definitely expecting some nerdy comic-book action sequences and a bunch of people in the audience squealing with delight over some cool weapon or special mutant power.

But I wasn’t expecting a subplot about body image.

When we first see Raven (played by Jennifer Lawrence), we don’t really see her. You see, Raven (later codenamed Mystique) has the special power of being able to transform her appearance into that of anyone else.

In fact, she spends the majority of the film in her chosen disguise: a pretty, young, blonde girl. Anything to avoid being in her natural state, which presents as deep blue, scaly, and with slicked-back red hair. While this power certainly comes in handy when fighting villains, Mystique is constantly hiding behind a false appearance.

She would give anything to be “normal,” so when fellow mutant Hank tells her of his plans to create a serum that will help, she’s very interested.

She scoffs at the idea of being “mutant and proud,” all the while dreaming of retaining her skin-coloured form forever.

However, when presented with the serum — the do-or-die moment – she hesitates. Does she really want to change forever? Or could she become proud of her natural form?

Jennifer Lawrence

Jennifer Lawrence's Mystique prefers to hide who she really is behind blonde hair in X-Men.

I don’t want to spoil the movie for you, so I won’t tell you what happens. But it did make me question my own desire to be accepted by society. If I was presented with a magical potion that would correct all my flaws, would that be good enough?

I’m not so sure. Would I suddenly feel accepted by society if my love handles went away?

Jennifer Lawrence herself claims she doesn’t have this struggle, at least not as evidenced by her recent interview with Flare magazine, where she said, “I don’t really diet or anything. I’m miserable when I’m dieting and I like the way I look. I’m really sick of all these actresses looking like birds… I’d rather look a little chubby on camera and look like a person in real life, than look great onscreen and look like a scarecrow in real life.” [1]

It’s a positive statement, and a great one for a young actress to be making. Surely, liking the way you look is an important step. As Magneto says to Mystique: “You want society to accept you, but you can’t even accept yourself.” If only it was that easy.