Nobody had “makeup” for a long long time. No lipstick, no eyelashes. Rose was a bruiser in a ball gown and still earth-goddessy (I always remember her having a gap in her front teeth when she doesn’t!) Naturally Pink had a swan’s neck and full lashes much later in the evolution.
It’s exactly like Alison Bechdel talking about how strange and slightly dangerous it felt ti design her Dykes cast after having spent her youth and childhood exclusively drawing male figures. Years into the strip, a few male figures were introduced...
...but only after the full spectrum of presentation was established among a huge cast of mostly female-identifying characters. Toni’s baby being male was a sweet, gentle Rubicon. One that could be crossed without a sense of loss. She even named him after her grandmother.
In STEVEN UNIVERSE, I first assumed that none of the extensive female cast read as very femme because it was a show ostensibly aimed at young boys. That dovetailed with R. Sugar’s explorations, but only that. Pearl is a twig with a witch nose, but she dances ballet.
Amethyst is curvy, but it’s part of her stocky build more than t&a, and she’s so delightfully gross. Garnet has hips that tell no lies, but her stoic demeanor removes any possibility that she will simper for anyone. All three Gem mains are unconventional mixes.
Steven himself, as de rigueur male lead of a kids’ adventure show, nonetheless wears a pink shirt from the git-go. It reads red, but it’s not very red. It has a Good Job Gold Star, but its points are rounded. His Gem is pink. His rosy skin tone hides his nature in plain sight.
Along came Stevonnie! The only Fusion of a female character with a male one for most of the show, Stevonnie combines, as all fusions do, Connie’s skinny frame with Steven’s rounded curves. Fusions are big, so kid + kid = GODDESS. Humans assume Stevonnie is an adult human.
Stevonnie is 3/4 human, at least in concept, 3/4 feminine. As with Steven’s human appearance, her intersexuality is hidden in plain sight. She’s conventional beautiful, conventionally hot. Belying that are her chunky hands and feet. No dainty Disney trotters on that one!
But other than that, little of Stevonnie’s boy-ness shows. She’s often confused and sometimes put off by humans’ assumptions about her, but Steven’s innate friendliness allows her to breeze past a lot of it. Just the same, man-hands didn’t seem like much boy in her design.
Of course, there has to be room in a spectrum for extremes, and I accepted that Stevonnie was meant to represent that. She does it well. Knowing she’s not that simple was good. She also represented the aggravation of looking femme but feeling not so femme.
Which is why, after tracing the maze of identity with her, when Stevonnie turned out to have a little teenage scruff that she shaved, it was SO GOOD! All her aspects represented with style and wit! Perfection.

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