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Evangeline Lilly just called out the comfort gap between male and female clothing

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Moya Crockett
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Women are used to wearing uncomfortable clothing, says the Ant-Man and the Wasp star – and men, notably, are not. 

For her latest role in Marvel movie Ant-Man and the Wasp, Evangeline Lilly had to don a classic superhero suit: tight, black and high-necked, with a leathery sheen that looks like it would get extremely sweaty in the summer heat. Before trying it on for the first time, the actress was expecting the suit to be heinously uncomfortable – as assumption influenced by the complaints she’d heard from male Marvel stars about their superhero costumes.

In a new interview, however, Lilly says she was pleasantly surprised to find that her Ant-Man outfit didn’t bother her that much. And then she realised that maybe – just maybe – that was because, as a woman, she’s learned to accept being “uncomfortable for the sake of looking good”.

“I have been hearing Marvel male superheroes complain about their suits for years,” Lilly tells BackstageOL in a new video interview.

“And I got into my suit and I was wearing it, working in it, doing my thing, and I was like, ‘[It’s] just not that bad.’”

The experience caused Lilly to ask herself two questions, she continues.

“Do I have the most comfortable suit in the MCU [Marvel Cinematic Universe] or –” at this point in the interview she lifts her high-heeled foot to show the camera – “have men not had the life experience of being uncomfortable for the sake of looking good?”

Many actors have described their superhero costumes as uncomfortable, while noting that they know how lucky they are to get the chance to wear them. These include Paul Bettany, who described his Avengers attire as “pretty painful”; Chris Evans, who said his Captain America suits are “not comfortable”; Tom Holland, who summed up his Spiderman outfit as “not the greatest thing”; and Chadwick Boseman, who said he would get “blazing hot” dressed as Black Panther.

“They’re just like, ‘What is this? This sucks. Why are we… why? Why do I have to go through this?” Lilly says. “Whereas a woman’s like, ‘I don’t know. This is like normal. I wear heels to work. I’m uncomfortable all day. You get used to it. You tune it out.’”

To be fair to Bettany and Holland, their costumes involved wearing extremely tight masks covering their entire heads and faces, something Lilly does not have to endure in Ant-Man and the Wasp. Nevertheless, she makes an important point about how women are socialised to accept uncomfortable attire in a way that men just aren’t. From the 16th to the early 20th centuries, women were coerced into corsets; today, the likes of the Kardashians flog waist trainers on Instagram.

On the red carpet, the discrepancy between male and female fashion standards is strikingly obvious: the men wear suits, while the women wear flimsy, clingy, flesh-exposing dresses, whatever the weather. Even if you think of yourself as reasonably sensible when it comes to fashion, you’ve probably endured at least once fancy event in a pair of blister-inducing shoes, a dress that’s too tight or an on-trend but devastatingly itchy blouse.

In summary: kudos to Lilly to highlighting something we’ve all thought at one point or another. Will this lead to the next female superhero fighting crime in leggings and a hoodie? Only time will tell.

Images: Getty Images 

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Moya Crockett

Moya is Women’s Editor at stylist.co.uk, where she is currently overseeing the Visible Women campaign. As well as writing about inspiring women and feminism, she also covers subjects including careers, podcasts and politics. Carrying a tiny bottle of hot sauce on her person at all times is one of the many traits she shares with both Beyoncé and Hillary Clinton.

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