My fiance and I were browsing at Bosco’s in the Dimond Mall, and we overheard two male employees discussing Lara Croft’s redesigned look, which will debut in “Tomb Raider” March 5, 2013. I sensed they were both unhappy with the redesign, but I shrugged it off. A few minutes later, I glanced up at the TV and saw a game trailer.
The onscreen female character annoyed me right from the get-go with a self-righteous monologue about “adventure finding her.” Then I saw the color of her shirt, took note of her chestnut hair and her British accent finally hit me. Then my jaw dropped.
“What is it, honey?”
“I think that’s the new Lara Croft.”
And it was. Her gargantuan chest was gone and her beautifully refined facial features weren’t even recognizable. Oh, and her perfect ponytail was as messy as can be. I honestly didn’t recognize the character until I was slapped in the face with the side details of the trailer.
I grew up on “Tomb Raider.” Lara Croft has been my beautiful, busty, fearless adventurer role model for just about ever, and — while anatomically incorrect — she has an iconic figure, one that I’ve lovingly made fun of many times.
“How can she stand with boobs that huge?”
But even as a woman, I’ve never wished for her to look different.
Her new, practical camisole and cargo pants aren’t a problem. But taking everything about this beloved character and tossing it to the dogs is.
Even her personality has been remade. Gone is the innately confident, suave, no-nonsense adventurer we know and love. She’s been replaced with an inexperienced schoolgirl who barely knows her right from her left. She wants to make her mark as an explorer, yet says she hates tombs in the second trailer.
To be fair, this game is supposed to explore how Lara Croft came to be the badass audiences know her to be, but that doesn’t justify certain changes, especially those to her core personality.
Lara Croft is supposed to be intensely strong, both internally and externally. When faced with new challenges, her reaction should channel that strength immediately, even if it isn’t fully developed.
In the second trailer, all she does is panic and scream while picking up weapons, trying to get from point A to point B without getting killed.
One does not simply rise from being a skittish, screaming schoolgirl to the greatest, most iconic female adventurer of all time. She may later gain experiences that help her confidence, but the new, younger Lara would need a complete personality transplant. From what has been revealed of her so far, this Lara seems more likely to go home after the events of the new game, never to chase down adventure again.
As for her physical appearance, I disagree with the changes. I do not disagree with making her anatomically correct, however. I love that she now looks like she could actually exist. I passionately hate that all of her sexuality has been removed.
Lara Croft is meant to be sexy. She is meant to be all these amazing things — and sexy on top of it. That is as much a part of her character as raiding tombs is. The Lara presented to us now has absolutely no sexuality in either appearance or personality. None.
Why can’t she have a slightly larger chest? Why can’t she have distinctly feminine curves? Are we afraid or ashamed of her sexuality? Do we somehow feel threatened by it? We shouldn’t feel any of those things.
Women are beautiful in all shapes and sizes. Are we so afraid of conforming to stereotypes about feminine beauty that we must desexualize Lara entirely? Because that’s where this is going.
Lara looking like any other girl is wrong, because she isn’t and never has been like any other girl. She’s Lara-flippin’-Croft, and she is a boss the way she is.
Go ahead, give her a new origin story, but don’t change her personality or completely redo her look. She’s one of the strongest, most renowned female gaming characters of all time, and redesigning her is as much a blaspheme as redesigning Mario.