I’ve always been bothered by the varying forms of armour in fantasy settings. The irksome chainmail bikini is detested and loved in varying circles, and just as annoying is a piece of armour that covers one section of the chest but no other. Simply put, a lot of fantasy armour sucks for its intended purpose.
Women complain, men complain. A lot of us complain about it. Even when people complain there’s the possibility that even more complaints would occur because if a woman were to pick up a piece of armour and don it, even though it was standard or masculine, there’s a chance that it’s ‘hiding’ the feminine figure and removing the identity of the woman by making them appear more “male” and masculine in order to appear a strong and independent figure.
Needless to say, the bikini maille will get you killed. I should also point out that the more shapely armour piece is likely to get you just as killed (because we all know that there are different types of dead).
Armour is always uncomfortable when you don’t spend enough time in it to make it a second skin. You’re being heavy regardless of being maille, scale, plate or anything in-between. It’s also very obvious, but let me tell you something else for those nerds of you who don’t know these things because you’ve been living beneath a rock: as well as being heavy, armour is very savvy with making you hot or cold depending on the weather. It’s metal, c’mon. Of course there were ways to stop it being wholly uncomfortable, like gambesons and other types of padding. Gambesons are thick vestments, covering all the necessary parts to protect you in a way that only wool and cloth can.
Once these were worn, and whatever your choice of armour is worn atop this, the shape of your chest and torso is negated into neutrality. Once you realise this, the more shapely chestplate is even more redundant.
The simple purpose of plate is to deflect blows from enemy weaponry. If you are attempting to dodge the blow then the enemy’s attack should deflect, since the design is meant to bounce the weapon away from your body, especially your torso. If your armour is breast shaped then you are increasing the chances of bouncing the blade toward the centre of your chest and your vital organs. The threat is increased depending on the aesthetic of the armour itself. Exposing flesh is the worst that you can do, but placing a pair of breasts on a cuirass, for example, would only serve to guide weapons to your heart.
Am I saying that women should wear different armour? No. That’s incredibly unfair. It should be fitted, like most armour of course, but to a female body the ratios in proportions are usually different to a male’s. This change in fitting can better function the warrior since the motions in the body’s joints are important in various schools of weaponry. Both men and women can look sexy any time – armour is supposed to be functional.
It’s unrealistic that the male warrior could have armour that makes them look a veritable juggernaut, bedecked in plate so thick that they resemble a space marine while the female can have armour that fits them to look like a tank with exposed cleavage. It’s massively impractical. It’d be just the same if the male had an exposed chest, put the guy in the mankini maille, or Superior Mythril Nipple Disc Armour +4.
People should stop being sexually objectified when it comes to even their fighting for survival. Stop the fallacy for your phallus.