GiantessA giantess is a female giant. The word has at least two interpretations:
- A mythical being, resembling a woman of superhuman size and strength.
- A human woman of exceptional stature, often the result of some medical or genetic abnormality. A typical example was Jane Bunford (d.1922) who grew to a height of 7'7".
Giantesses are worthy of separate discussion from male giants for a number of reasons. To begin with, although Classical and Norse mythologies contain many references to giantesses, very little information is given about them. (This is in sharp contrast to the detailed stories of male giants such as the Utgardaloki in the Eddas). This may be because of the patriarchal nature of these societies, which was opposed to the idea of female empowerment.
A notable example of the depiction of giantesses in art and literature arose in the medieval period. In her book Scivias, St. Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179) used the giantess as a representation "Ecclesia", the Church as the Bride of Christ. As Hildegard is often seen as an early leader of the Feminist movement, the emergence of the giantess symbol may not be coincidental.
- "Once, when Nature's overpowering vigorousness
- Conceived each day children this monstrous
- I would love to have lived with a young giantess
- Around her feet like a cat to a queen voluptuous.
- Would love to have seen the spirit that grew out of her
- Distending as she played her terrible game
- From the damp mist that swam in her eyes to wonder
- If her sullen heart would catch into flames."
But the giantess motif is not always anerotic. The growing popularity of female empowerment is reflected in emergence of powerful comic book heroines. Traditionally, female superheroes have been less well accepted than their male counterparts and have often been limited to supporting roles (The most notable exception was Wonder Woman who appeared as early as 1942.) This, however, has changed in recent decades, and the powerful females have gained ever-greater acceptance even among male readers. Size-changing heroines have appeared in such comics as Doom Patrol, Team Youngblood and Femforce. In the latter series, the giantess-superheroines Tara Fremont and Garganta (Dr. Carol Heisler) combine immense size and strength with beauty and femininity, and have a cult following among both men and women. Giantesses are even more common in the Mang/Anime comic-book genres of Japan.
A few motion pictures are also worth mentioning. The 1958 B-movie Attack of the 50 Foot Woman formed part of a series of size-changing films which also included The Incredible Shrinking Man. The 1993 remake of this movie, (starring Daryl Hannah in the title role, was advertised as a comedy; many scenes did parody earlier size-changing movies (most notably The Amazing Colossal Man), although central theme was feminist. The heroine Nancy, formerly a cypher to her domineering father and husband, is empowered by her new-found size and starts to take control of her destiny, and encourages other women to do the same. Both versions of the movie enjoy a cult following.