Shadowhunters: The Problematic Portrayal of Isabelle Lightwood

LET ME PREFACE THIS ARTICLE BY SAYING – WE ARE NOT PUTTING DOWN THE ACTRESS PLAYING ISABELLE IN ANY WAY. WE HAVE STATED MANY TIMES OVER THAT OUR ISSUE IS WITH THE WAY THAT IZZY WAS WRITTEN IN THIS SHOW – THE OVER SEXUALIZATION OF ISABELLE LIGHTWOOD. FOR ANYONE TO SAY THAT WE ARE SHAMING THE ACTRESS IS TAKING THIS ARTICLE OUT OF CONTEXT AND MISSING THE POINT OF IT. WE RESPECT YOUR OPINIONS ON ISABELLE – THOUGH WE MAY NOT AGREE. WE HOWEVER HAVE THE RIGHT TO ERASE ALL COMMENTS ON THE ARTICLE – AND WILL DO SO TO ANY THAT CALL THE AUTHOR NAMES, DISRESPECT THE AUTHOR OF THE SERIES, AND USE PROFANITY. IF YOU TAKE ISSUE WITH THIS ARTICLE – EMAIL THE OWNER OF THE WEBSITE erin@fangirlish.com

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Isabelle Lightwood has always been one of my favorite book characters. The first time I read City of Bones, I fell in love with the snarky, kickass woman who didn’t take crap from anyone and walked over boys’ hearts in high heels boots. I loved that she was very feminine, and used that to her advantage. I loved that she was so much more than her body. I loved Isabelle because being gorgeous and fashionable and sexy only made her more of a badass.

Source: Tumblr.com

And then the TV show happened. The more I see of their version of Isabelle, the bigger the obvious disconnect between her book and show personalities. Isabelle on the show is cheerful and constantly mocking and joking, but lacks so far any serious, thoughtful side to balance that.. What’s more, she’s downright mean to her brother, taunting and bullying him about his sexuality while Book Izzy was his biggest supporter, and kept quiet out of respect for his privacy. But by far the most disturbing part of her portrayal is the way she’s been turned into a sex object.

In Dead Man’s Party, Isabelle walked into battle in a bright red dress that barely reached her thighs, while all the other shadowhunters wore gear. She found out how to get into the Hotel Dumort by having sex with Meliorn. She joked about her boyfriend cheating on her. She said that she didn’t mind being a distraction while her brothers fought. She took a backseat in the fight, while Alec took over, something he never would have done in the books. She barely fought the vampires at all, and walked out of the hotel without a hair out of place. In the next episode, she pranced around the Institute wearing a bra and leggings, and drew attention to her ample cleavage by saying she wished she had a flat chest like Clary.

And I know a lot of fans have been thinking, well that’s Isabelle. She can fight in a dress.
She looks fabulous while doing it. She uses her beauty to her advantage. And that’s true, to an extent.

MATTHEW DADDARIO, KATHERINE MCNAMARA, EMERAUDE TOUBIA, DOMINIC SHERWOOD

Source: Tumblr.com

But the difference is that just because Isabelle can fight in a dress, doesn’t mean that she ever wants to. Have you ever tried to run in a dress? Or heels? It’s not comfortable. Isabelle fighting in an outfit like that because she doesn’t have time to get changed makes perfect sense and has happened in the books, but Isabelle choosing to wear it to a hotel full of vampires, where she knows she will have to kick butt, is nothing but a way of making sure she looks good for the audience. No warrior would ever consciously walk into a battle without armor, without weapons besides the whip curled around her wrist, and without comfortable clothing. Isabelle was woefully unprepared for battle – something that could very well have gotten her killed – simply because she wanted to look good. Or rather, the producers wanted her to look good. That is not a decision that Book Isabelle, or any intelligent woman, would ever make.

Book Isabelle does use her looks to her advantage — though she doesn’t stoop to use it to  distract demons, because honestly, how seriously can you take a demon that’s distracted by a striptease dance — when necessary, but that doesn’t mean that she likes doing it. In battle, she’s always at the front line, not standing back and letting Jace and Alec handle things (especially not Alec. As you may remember, he had never even killed a demon before in City of Bones). And just because Isabelle is very sexually active does not mean that she would be willing to basically sell her body for information, even to her boyfriend. Book Isabelle is a warrior who also happens to be sexy. TV Show Isabelle is a sex object who can also fight. In the show, I’ve seen Isabelle consistently objectified and slut shamed by the other characters, who clearly disapprove of the way she dresses and acts. If the show itself keeps calling her a slut, then her wardrobe is clearly not meant to be empowering. It’s meant to be objectifying and demeaning, and to reinforce the cultural stereotype that says that a beautiful and sexually active woman is a commodity without dignity or purpose of her own.

It’s not slut shaming to point out that a female character is oversexualized. In movies and TV shows, the choice to wear revealing clothing is not made by the character or the actress, but by a man who wants an attractive woman to show as much skin as possible. It’s true that Book Isabelle does wear revealing outfits on occasion, as do many other powerful women, and I don’t have a problem with her dressing like that when she feels like it. What I have a problem with is her baring skin in absolutely every scene, even when it is highly impractical. Isabelle is a very fashionable woman who wears whatever looks good on her, regardless of how much skin it exposes, but the show seems to have a problem with covering her up at any point, and I have a problem with that.

 



 

Source: Tumblr.com

I know that Isabelle was not a complex character in City of Bones, and I understand that we can’t expect her to be exactly like she was at the end of the series, but that doesn’t mean I can’t expect more from her. It’s worth pointing out that Izzy does not have a prominent role in the first book, so the main reason she seems one-dimensional is because we don’t see much of her at first. The show, however, is putting her front and center while refusing to give her any actual character development. She’s gotten plenty of screen time to show off her body and prove that she’s confident, sexy and slightly self-obsessed, yet nothing like the book character. She’s getting so many chances to prove herself and develop as a character, yet hasn’t evolved at all.

Isabelle’s portrayal has turned me against the show, which is disappointing, because I’m rooting for Shadowhunters. I’m going to be watching every episode no matter what, and I want it to be good, but their portrayal of Isabelle has been very upsetting. I miss the girl who wore jeans and skirts and took out a demon with a high-heeled shoe. I miss the quotable badass who protected her family at all costs. I miss the girl who respected her brother’s privacy and told Clary to keep quiet about his sexuality because she knew he wasn’t comfortable with it. I miss Isabelle Lightwood, and watching Shadowhunters has made me appreciate her – the real her – even more.

Reader, fangirl and aspiring writer. Obsessed with horses, hockey and Herondales. Frequently has her heart broken by fictional characters and terrible hockey teams. Contact: beata@fangirlish.com.

65 Comments

  1. Jamie K

    100% agree with you. I felt Isabelle was lacking and until this article I wasn’t quite sure where but what you said makes perfect sense. I want strong kick ass Izzy. I still have hope she will grow into that.

  2. Nolwenn

    I have to agree with you. I really don’t like what they are doing to the character in the show. Because Izzy is SUCH a badass, with a huge huge heart. She would fight for those she loves, even though she does not show her soft side that often, it’s there. In the show well… she barely wears anything and it is disappointing.
    I understand changes happens from book to screen but this feels wrong 🙁

  3. alison gunn

    You’ve pinpointed the Izzy problem. Any chance the Runner will pay the least bit of attention???
    So far, I’m not certain they have understood any of the characters 100%…

  4. alison gunn

    Yes – the flat-chest line is out of the books. Book Clary was shorter than Isabelle and didn’t have her curves. Screen Clary, however, _does_ have curves, so that line should have been dispensed with.

  5. alison gunn

    Yes – Isabelle is comfortable with her body/sexuality. There has to be a better way to show that than a steady diet of cleavage and skin. Less Xena, more Natasha Romanov. Book Isabelle is more subtly flirtatious. As for the “slut-shaming”….. Alec’s line about fairy dust on her dress is awfully reminiscent of Jessica Lewinsky.
    Yes – Book Isabelle is supportive of her brother. In fact, book Isabelle is quite protective of all her brothers – Jace, included- which is one reason book Isabelle was guarded where Clary was concerned. I really have no issues with the Izzy-Alec relationship in the show. But I feel that the rather broad portrayal of Isabelle as flirty and sexy overpowers the subtle, considered side of the character.

  6. Luciana

    There are so many things wrong with this that I don’t even know where to start but I think the comments before me has made it pretty clear already. And honestly the only one slut-shaming Izzy here is you.

    1. fangirlishadmin

      Thank you for your opinion. We don’t feel we are slut shaming Izzy by pointing out her oversexualization. But we respect your feedback. Thank you.

  7. Taylor

    I mean no disrespect by saying this but much of this article is simply not factual. I have asked a variety of people, both non readers and readers, if they feel that 1) Isabelle has been slut shamed by other characters in the duration of the show AND 2) if Isabelle was ever not supportive of her brother. I got the same answer each time – all of them said that none of those things ever happened.
    to begin, Isabelle never taunts Alec. She worries for him, which is why she says he can’t keep bottling things up or else his feelings will explode, inevitably hurting him. even more so, about the privacy line, she never ever brings such a thing up in public – only when they’re having conversations by themselves. In the fourth episode when Alec begins to panic at the vision of Jace and the terror of being outed Isabelle immediately tells him “Alec, it’s okay.” Isabelle very much cares about her brother. your character analysis is not very accurate.
    Next, the line about Isabelle calling clary flat chested and saying she wish she had one was a direct quote from the novels. it’s weakening your argument by using it.
    also Isabelle has fought in dresses before, often, in fact, during the novels. in city of fallen angels she fights in a very revealing red dress. this is just one example.
    regarding meliorn and Isabelle, their relationship was heavily hinted at in the novels, and in the short story “Not For Humans”, Isabelles only purpose was to kiss Meliorn. it was literally all she did. Isabelle is a sexual character & in the show she is aged up. it’s not taboo for her to have sex if she so pleases – it’s the 21st century.
    and none of the characters ever slut shame Isabelle. at all. Clary expresses she’s a jeans and t-shirt kind of girl but doesn’t go on to call any girl that isn’t a slut. In the first episode, Jace merely says “she’s very confident with her body” and leaves it at that. None of this is slut shaming. She was never slut shamed at this point of the television series.
    your argument of lack of development is highly unrealistic. there has only been four episodes and though they are giving izzy a larger role, they also provided Magnus, Luke, and Alec larger roles as well. There is a large influx of main characters so the argument falls flat. Besides, some character growth is slower and longer, nothing has emotionally impacted Isabelle yet. the whole statement is unrealistic.
    again, I don’t mean to offend but I find much of this article inaccurate & simply not plausible in the first place. you are taking things very very directly and not looking in much further which is making some of these arguments unreasonable. we finally have a strong, beautiful, sexually confident and sensual female character on tv and everyone’s immediate response is to tear her down because it doesn’t conform to their personal standards. it’s toxic and deeply unsettles me. thank you for reading this and I apologize for the lengthiness!

    1. fangirlishadmin

      We don’t take feedback as disrespect. We appreciate feedback. We have taken into account that Izzy is aged up – however – in our opinion there are things taking away from Izzy. We know that there are two sides to every story – and everyone has an opinion. Our issue is not with the actress playing Izzy, our issue is with the way that she is written and yes – with the clothes that she wears. We have no problem with her embracing herself and being confident. But we are not slut shaming Izzy by pointing out our feelings on her over sexualization. We continue to watch and will continue to report on Shadowhunters because we believe in it and want it to be better.

  8. Hannah Holyoak Glade

    The only good thing about the show so far is Clary’s hair color and Simon. I’ll keep watching though.

    1. fangirlishadmin

      We refuse to give up on the show. We believe that it can be great. But we will always be honest with our feelings about it.

  9. Lola

    First of all this article is just sad.

    Now if anyone has been slut shaming Isabelle Lightwood are the so called fans of the books who are constantly attacking her and missing the point. The characters on the TV show have never slut shamed Izzy, Jace has even talked about how confident she is with her own body.

    People, wake up!! There is nothing NOTHING wrong with the way Isabelle is or dresses, and if you think so you are the ones with the problem, not her and not the show, Isabelle is there for people to see that you can be whatever you bloody want to be, that it is ok for a woman to have sex or for a woman to dress sexy if that is what she wants without being called out for it, you can be sexy and feminine and still be a fkn badass and strong, it is great to have confidence that is what Isabelle is showing, the way she dresses has taken nothing from her badassery she kills demons and she fights but she is also a genuinely nice person who cares for her family and even for Clary, she is smart and has all the contacts and besides this is the starting point or her arc, we will see her fall and rise again.

    So YOU stop slut shaming Izzy, stop this toxic mentality of yours and look at what you are saying.

    1. fangirlishadmin

      You are entitled to your opinion, but I assure you we know what we are saying. We embrace the fact that many are passionate about Izzy and consider this a positive thing. HOWEVER, we have a different opinion about the way that she has been written. We appreciate the fact that Izzy is strong and cares for her family, but we don’t agree with the way that she treats her brother and the practicality of the way she is portrayed. It’s not the Izzy of the books – the Izzy we all love. We never called Izzy a slut – people are missing the point of this article.

      1. Sarah Rosina

        “The way she treats her brother”? With love? He’s the person she loves the most. They tease each other, they’re siblings. She tells him to come out in a confronting manner, that’s a lot better and smarter than keeping it a secret and ignoring it.
        “We never called Izzy a slut-people are missing the point of this article.” No, we’re not. To quote you: “She pranced around the Institute in a bra and leggings, and drew attention to her ample cleavage by saying she wished she had a flat chest like Clary.” That. Is. Slut shaming. She ‘pranced’ around and ‘drew attention to her ample cleavage’-your choice of wording there is derogatory and misogynistic. She’s wearing a sports bra and leggings-that’s perfectly comfortable and appropriate attire for when you’re at home. What else do you wear if you want to get changed quick? Or you’re doing sport? It’s not your business as to what she wears in her own home.
        To paraphrase you: ‘Izzy’s too smart to wear that.’ Again, derogatory and misogynistic wording. Also, as many people are pointing out (and you’re ignoring), Isabelle wears this kind of stuff in canon.
        “She found out how to get into the Hotel Dumort by having sex with Meliorn.” I think you mean ‘while’. Meliorn is a fling. The only expectation they have of one another is a good time and some juicy information. If they do that whilst having sex with one another, hey, why not? That’s probably more fun.

        It is disappointing to see so much negativity over the show with no real proof. You are very influential with the fans, and it is a shame to see people agree with you. People rely on you to form their own opinions, and you are feeding them this hate to spread. Let me tell you something: it isn’t fair. It isn’t fair on the writers who have done everything they could to please the fans, it isn’t fair on Emeraude Toubia who is so proud of playing Isabelle especially as a Latina, and is portraying her very well, and it definitely isn’t fair on the actual Isabelle Lightwood-not your version of her. The sexy, fierce warrior we fell in love with in the books and are finally getting on screen.
        I hope to God nobody involved in the show sees this article, but given your popularity no doubt they already have. I am so sorry for them.

      2. Sarah Rosina

        “The way she treats her brother”? With love? He’s the person she loves the most. They tease each other, they’re siblings. She tells him to come out in a confronting manner, that’s a lot better and smarter than keeping it a secret and ignoring it.
        “We never called Izzy a slut-people are missing the point of this article.” No, we’re not. To quote you: “She pranced around the Institute in a bra and leggings, and drew attention to her ample cleavage by saying she wished she had a flat chest like Clary.” That. Is. Slut shaming. She ‘pranced’ around and ‘drew attention to her ample cleavage’-your choice of wording there is derogatory and misogynistic. She’s wearing a sports bra and leggings-that’s perfectly comfortable and appropriate attire for when you’re at home. What else do you wear if you want to get changed quick? Or you’re doing sport? It’s not your business as to what she wears in her own home.
        To paraphrase you: ‘Izzy’s too smart to wear that.’ Again, derogatory and misogynistic wording. Also, as many people are pointing out (and you’re ignoring), Isabelle wears this kind of stuff in canon.
        “She found out how to get into the Hotel Dumort by having sex with Meliorn.” I think you mean ‘while’. Meliorn is a fling. The only expectation they have of one another is a good time and some juicy information. If they do that whilst having sex with one another, hey, why not? That’s probably more fun.

        It is disappointing to see so much negativity over the show with no real proof. You are very influential with the fans, and it is a shame to see people agree with you. People rely on you to form their own opinions, and you are feeding them this hate to spread. Let me tell you something: it isn’t fair. It isn’t fair on the writers who have done everything they could to please the fans, it isn’t fair on Emeraude Toubia who is so proud of playing Isabelle especially as a Latina, and is portraying her very well, and it definitely isn’t fair on the actual Isabelle Lightwood-not your version of her. The sexy, fierce warrior we fell in love with in the books and are finally getting on screen.
        I hope to God nobody involved in the show sees this article, but given your popularity no doubt they already have. I am so sorry for them.

        1. fangirlishadmin

          Again – you are entitled to your opinion and we respect your opinion. We did not slut shame Izzy and would never do that. We pointed out her over sexualization. You are consistently missing our point and choosing to see what you want to see. We respect your opinion, however we disagree. And as we have said a million times – we love Emeraude, we think she is great. This is on the way Isabelle is written.

          1. Sarah Rosina

            Please just reread your article and look over the misogynistic and derogatory wordings you have used (I did give you a few examples) from an unbiased perspective.
            Also, as to how Isabelle is written: that is also unfair. I recall this fandom’s positivity towards the show from a year ago. Now everybody is jumping on the hate bandwagon.
            The writers have promised us to stay true to the characters and they are fulfilling their promise. The writers have done so much to please the fans, and we fans were happy about the changes up to a few months ago.
            If I am missing the point, please give me valid, well-formulated arguments at what your point is, other than this hate.

        2. fangirlishadmin

          Again – you are entitled to your opinion and we respect your opinion. We did not slut shame Izzy and would never do that. We pointed out her over sexualization. You are consistently missing our point and choosing to see what you want to see. We respect your opinion, however we disagree. And as we have said a million times – we love Emeraude, we think she is great. This is on the way Isabelle is written.

  10. beep

    So what, you delete comments that you don’t like because you think we’re “harassing” the author of the article by pointing out the misinformation? Or did you delete my comment because you were upset with my “half-baked, poorly written article” comment? Lol, that’s not harassment. I’m sorry if it seems mean, but it’s true. This is a poorly written article that’s filled with incorrect information that could’ve been avoided if the author had taken five minutes to google the series and look for some quotes. As it is, the author is upset over things that haven’t happened on the show and decided to make up some nonexistent instances of the main characters slut-shaming Izzy and Izzy being “downright mean to her brother, taunting and bullying him about his sexuality.” That’s poor writing.

    You keep saying that it’s not slut-shaming to point out how sexualized or over sexualized a female character is, and you’re right, you’re absolutely right, but there wouldn’t be so many people on here accusing the author of slut-shaming if this article in all honesty didn’t seem like slut-shaming. But it does. It sounds a lot like the author has an issue with the way Izzy dresses and uses her body because it somehow devalues her character, and saying that the way a woman dresses and uses her body to her advantage takes away from her as a person (which is what the author implies about Izzy as a character, that the way she dresses and uses her body takes away from her as a character) sounds an awful lot like slut-shaming to me.

    But, honestly, the next time you guys want to write an article criticizing the portrayal of a character on a TV show, maybe you should find examples that actually support your critique instead of making up stuff that never even happened to support it.

  11. Beba

    I’m assuming your problem is with Izzy is that her character development hasn’t kicked in yet, and she’s too sexy. I’m always guessing you don’t watch much tv shows either. Izzy isn’t a new type of character at all, She’s a Brook Davis(one tree hill) Faith Lehane (Buffy the vampire slayer) type character, who is shown sexually active and are completely comfortable with their body and use it as their only source of control. All those women have develop over time (seasons/years) and learn that sex isn’t always the best way to get what they want, but it is a learning process. This is only the first season of the shadowhunters, not even half way over with the season, this week we are finally going to LEARN more about the Lightwood family and up until now the only person who has shamed Izzy for her dressing is her own mother. And what we see from photo Stills after Mama Lightwood comes to town is Izzy dressing more conservative to please her mom. Izzy story hasn’t even began yet and you’re already complaining, at least wait until the season is over and Izzy story arc kicks in before you shit all over her character, she might end up with a slow build storyline and it’s only going to make YOU upset but sometime these character grown better than their leading counterparts because they go through more shit and come out stronger. I’m cool with waiting to see how Izzy will turn out overtime rather than bitch about it social media yet.

    1. fangirlishadmin

      I do watch TV shows – it’s my job. Second – I can respect that you are comparing her to a Brooke or a Faith. Izzy in the books would not act the way she does in the series – and if they had developed her personality over time I would have no problem with this. BUT the thing is – she’s not developed and everything is her sexuality. The Izzy in the books was someone to look up to and the one in the show is someone I wouldn’t want my sisters, nieces, friends to see as empowering – and this is the opinion on here. We’ve respected everyone’s opinions and not said a word. But we have said time and time again – if you have a different view – feel free to write it. We’ll consider publishing it (as long as it falls under guidelines). But we appreciate and respect the difference of opinion. It’s not a matter of Izzy being too sexy – it’s a matter of the things she wears aren’t practical. The world was up in arms when the girl in Jurassic World outran a dinosaur in pumps – because it wasn’t practical. But we voice that it’s not practical to fight demons in skin tight dresses and we’re suddenly sexist? We aren’t. Again – our issue isn’t with Emeraude – we love her. The issue is the problematic way that Izzy is written.

      1. Beba

        My point remains, you are expecting a huge character development and an explanation for why Izzy dress and is the way she is, this is the FIRST season and we aren’t even half way into the season. Izzy dressing isn’t any worst than what I’ve seen Buffy Summers wear to fight demons and vampires, mini skirts, short dresses, and heel boots, she never wore protective gear ever and I’ve never seen fans complain about why she was dress half the time as if she was going to the clubs. Izzy on tv isn’t going to be 100% like Book Izzy the cast and writers have said this time and time again idek fans are still forcing this. If Izzy isn’t someone you want your sister and nieces to look up to as an empowering woman , then then they can see Clary. Someone who fits your view as practical. Your article is still ofc upsetting people because there are folks who look up to Isabelle, they don’t care about what she wears, they care more about the character and seeing her be eventually fleshed out .

    2. alison gunn

      Beba – this – in a nutshell – is one of my major objections to things in the TV series. Series Izzy isn’t a new type of Claire – she’s a stock character in TV. She’s Summer (OC)….
      I think the writers seem to rely on that formula identification for TV audiences at the sacrifice of what made the book characters compelling.

      1. Beba

        Lmao MCG the EP of shadowhunters was the producer of the OC. Izzy hardly had any background in the the first two books this is what the writers are making up for her, I think a lot of folks are going to relate to Izzy on a lot of what’s going to happen in her story arc (which still hasn’t been played out yet) people are going to relate to this Lightwood family drama and understand why Izzy is the way she is. Yes this isn’t a new type of character but her arc isn’t going in the same direction as Summer or even Brooke Davis, there might be similarities but it’s still gonna be different.

        1. alison gunn

          Well, it was either one of them – or Randall Wallace has been busy.
          Izzy’s background may not have been a large part of the plot in COB or COA, but since the writers here working from the whole series (apparently)… they shouldn’t need to manufacture a history.
          ….but then, I seem to recall Cassie saying that they won’t be using Robert’s adultery, and Iz may be more of a Daddy’s girl (gawdferbid)

          1. Beba

            Izzy has a bad relationship with the mother and a better one with her father, I mean her own mother is going to be slut shaming her like this fandom does. Like I’ve said a lot of people love and relate to Izzy, I rather wait to see how they’ll build her character than shit all over her when her storyline hasn’t even began.

  12. Hannah

    Hi! Not trying to be mean or disrespectful at all and I appreciate your point of view even though I, respectfully, disagree with this article. My main question is what justification do you have for saying that Isabelle ‘teases’ or mocks Alec? Within the show all I’ve seen is her supporting him (e.g. saying ‘Alec it’s okay’ when the demon showed the image of Jace, etc.) So I was wondering what gave you the opinion that she wasn’t supporting him? Again, I mean this in no way disrespectfully and I accept your point of view 🙂

    1. Erin

      We agree at that moment she supported her brother. But up until then she has had a tone of mocking and teases with every interaction, especially when calling into question his feelings.We respect that everyone has a different opinion and we have in no way put down Emeraude, we think she’s a great Izzy. Our issue is with the way she is written. We appreciate your feedback.

    2. fangirlishadmin

      We agree at that moment she supported her brother. But up until then she has had a tone of mocking and teases with every interaction, especially when calling into question his feelings.We respect that everyone has a different opinion and we have in no way put down Emeraude, we think she’s a great Izzy. Our issue is with the way she is written. We appreciate your feedback.

  13. Sarah Rosina

    Okay, here’s a list of things you’ve misunderstood:

    1. Izzy is not “the snarky, kickass woman who didn’t take crap from anyone and walked over boys’ hearts in high heels” in CoB. I mean, sure, she was nice, but all the indirect characterisation it takes to get a good feel of the character hasn’t happened yet. She doesn’t get a paragraph from her perspective in CoB. Why? Because she’s not in the spotlight enough to be developed yet.
    2. The line “You can’t just keep things bottled up, Alec. Otherwise they’ll explode,” is not in any way mean or taunting or bullying at all. Neither is “You’re hiding from yourself, not me. You have feelings whether you like them or not, Alec.” It’s supportive. She’s telling him to come out, she’s telling him his methods of denial are destructive and lead to undeserving hatred. Please don’t twist her words in such a way.
    3. As we all know, Isabelle and Meliorn’s relationship is one where they use each other to get information. It’s a fling, it’s mutually beneficial and it’s fun. Meliorn isn’t her boyfriend, and Izzy’s fine with him sleeping with other people. She probably is, too. They’re both attractive, fashionable and flirtatious. Why, please, have you not even mentioned Meliorn by name? Surely he should get just as much criticism for sleeping with someone he doesn’t love?
    4. “She said she didn’t mind being a distraction while her brothers fought.” That’s because Isabelle likes the attention on her. She’s also aware that she is naturally distracting. She still fights alongside her brothers, and it’s not like she sits out the battle in the Hotel Dumort. Alec is right beside her. They’ve got each other’s backs and they’re both lethal. It’s probably easier than they expect to keep a bunch of vampires at arm’s length-hence them coming out unscathed.
    4. Izzy DOES want to fight in dresses. She DOES want to fight in high heels. Sure, it’s impractical, but I think you can refer to CC with that-she’s the one who wrote Izzy that way. The Victorian-style white dress at Pandemonium? The silver dress at Magnus’ party? The red dress at the end of CoFA? It’s impressive that she manages that, but she manages it. In canon.
    5. Isabelle Lightwood doesn’t bare skin in every scene. When she wears those distracting dresses, she’s not about to cover up. She’s wearing a bra and leggings for most of episode 4-so? That’s normal, it’s comfortable and people wear that all the time at home-just not as well as Em did.
    6. Izzy isn’t slut shamed by other characters. Jace tells Clary that Isabelle is very comfortable with her body-she is, that’s a fact. Clary admires her for her body and fashion choices, as does Magnus. The only line that could be slightly interpreted as slut shaming is “You have fairy dust on your dress.” Where Alec is just saying “I know what your methods of ‘interrogation’ were.” He’s teasing. Izzy takes it good-naturedly.

    Anyway. Thoughts, anybody?

    -Sarosenna

    1. fangirlishadmin

      While I respect your opinion – I don’t agree on all points. We have addressed each one of these in the article – which you are misunderstanding.

      I also never said your opinion doesn’t matter. I have intention of removing a comment that is your opinion – that is not cruel or demeaning to anyone.

      We appreciate your feedback.

      1. Sarah Rosina

        No really, I would like to know. I would like to know what I have misunderstood, in your opinion, and thereby come to a compromise.
        If not today, then tomorrow-I must to bed.

    2. alison gunn

      We have to dispense with the rationale that points to COB, since they are clearly not following any one book. : )
      – As someone has already stressed – the actress is fine, the spin on Isabelle….not so much. They aged up the characters, but Series Isabelle has lost some of the depth her character had -even from the beginning. She seems younger – more carefree than Book Isabelle, who was old beyond her years (blame Mom’s overshare), and a lot of her dialogue has an arch, dry humour to it.

      – Isabelle and Meliorn’s relationship was hinted at in the books – but no where was there any indication that it was so Izzy could get information. Okay – show us that she has a sex life – but showing her using it to get information is… : / Would have been the same if it had been Jace …

      – Isabelle as a distraction….at least twice, so far. But Book Isabelle is usually in the midst of the action with Jace, while Alec protects their rear.

      – As for Isabelle’s wardrobe…. for me, it’s probably a generational thing. I know from experience that when you are involved in something that is considered a “man’s world/job/game/etc” you won’t be taken seriously if you can’t perform as well – or better than – the guys. And if you dress “all girly” while doing it, you again risk not be taken seriously.
      So Izzy fighting in heels and dresses – if they’re going to dress her that way, they have to balance it with her doing some _serious_ fighting. (…and not just being a distraction or just using her whip – Book Isabelle was equally trained with a sword.)
      But EVERYONE needs help with their fighting…it’s just not working yet.

      1. Sarah Rosina

        Many points I disagree with, but first I’m going to focus on your “Isabelle was equally trained with a sword” comment: did you even watch episodes 1 and 3 or are you just choosing to omit the part where Isabelle uses a sword in almost every fight scene she’s in, excepting the fight at Magnus’s loft? I distictly recall her wielding it better than Alec, and she has a few impressive kills with the seraph blade. On her fighting as a whole: the only people we see as really midst of the action so far is Clary or Jace. And, when they are together and nobody is playing a distraction, Alec still DOES take the rear-he’s usually behind someone when they’re in a formation. Isabelle, as is on par with her character, just enjoys being the distraction the most, which is partly why she gets the job. Also because Jace doesn’t want to be far away from Clary in a fight (he considers her his responsibility, after all).
        As for her using sex as a method to get information: why not? Both Maliorn and Izzy are open about using each other for information and sex, what’s the problem? The fact that she’s not sleeping with him because she’s in love with him? They’re both comfortable with the arrangements.
        As for Isabelle SEEMING younger, we’ll see. We don’t have that many episodes yet, and Izzy being more carefree is a good thing. It fits her character better. Besides, Izzy’s still got humour, just a different sense of humour. Both are enjoyable.

        1. alison gunn

          I have watched all the episodes. numerous times. When one is familiar with the source material, it helps to get the knee-jerk reaction out of the way, adjusting to the adaptation and finally noting the things that still don’t sit well. I’ve done this with Outlander (a book series I have led discussion on for the last 20 years) – and I am doing it with TMI.
          The fighting – so far – has not been memorable.
          As for the sex. I have no problem with recreational. Not so much for using sex for gain. And that’s the last I have to say on the subject.

    1. fangirlishadmin

      And we respect that. We won’t stop writing about Shadowhunters – because we believe in the show.

    2. fangirlishadmin

      And we respect that. We won’t stop writing about Shadowhunters – because we believe in the show.

  14. IsabelleLightwood defensesquad

    are you fucking serious? omg I thought we were beyond that retrograde way of the 1950s way of thinking, this isn’t some ‘problematic portrayal’, it’s the way your tiny misogynistic head sees it what’s really problematic. A woman can be whatever the hell she wants to be, and Isabelle Lightwood is exactly that, she’s confident in her own skin and she’s confident in the way she looks, so why the hell would you go on calling her a ‘slut’?????? gtfo pls, no one cares what you think

  15. noni

    “Isabelle’s clothes looked ridiculous. Clary had to roll the legs on the jeans up up severeal times before she stopped tripping on them, and the plunging neckline of the red tank top…” page 61 of City of Bones.

    “Clary tugged the hem of the dress down. It just brushed the tops of her thighs. She hardly ever wore skirts, much less short ones, so seeing this much of her own legs was alarming. “If it’s this short on me, how short must it be on you?” she mused aloud to Isabelle.
    Isabelle grinned. “On me it’s a shirt.”
    “She seemed to shimmer in the lamplight – she was wearing a long silvery skirt, and a sequined top, and her nails were painted like glittering coins. Strands of silver beads were caught in her hair. She looked like a moon goddess.” page 208 of City of Bones.

    “Isabelle was slinking in a circle around him, sinuous as a snake, trailing her fingers across his chest. She was looking at him as if she were planning into drag him off to the corner to have sex.” “..if they dance any closer together, they won’t have to go off in a corner to have sex.” page 222 of City of Bones.

    “Well, hurry up,” said Isabelle. “…”
    “They are pretty to look at.” said Jace, hopping back up on the pavement. “…”
    “So am I,” said Isabelle, who didn’t look inclined to admit anything.” page 218 of City of Bones.

    “Isabelle’s clothes didn’t allow for pockets; they were too tight. Clary was amazed they allowed for Isabelle.” 241 of City of Bones.

    “How do you manage never to get mud on you?”
    Isabelle shrugged philosophically. “I’m pure at heart. It repels the dirt.”
    Jace snorted so loudly that she turned on him with a frown. “…”
    “Filthy inside and out.” page 18 of City of Ashes.

    “Not that traditional princess behavior was like Isabelle at all. Isabelle with her whip and boots and knives would chop anyone who tried to pen her up in a tower ino pieces, build a bridge out of the remains, and walk carelessly to freedom, her hair looking fabuous the enitre time.” page 141 of City of Ashes.

    “Simon looked at her with suspicion. “And how do you know so much about faeries and the Seelie Court, anyway?”
    Isabelle, to everyone’s surprise, blushed. “…”
    Isabelle gave a cry and jumped into his arms. “Meliorn!”
    “Ah,” said Simon, quietly and not without amusement, “So that’s how she knows.” page 146-147 of City of Ashes.

    “I’m not sure they’re going out,” Jace said, weighting the last two words with heavy irony. “I’d guess they mostly stay in. Or in this case, under.” page 148 of City of Ashes.

    “I don’t understand how you humans can walk in shoes that are that tall.”
    “It’s my motto.” said Isabelle, with a sultry smile. “Nothing less than seven inches.”
    Meliorn gazed at her stonily.
    “I’m talking about my heels,” she said. “It’s a pun….”
    “I could kiss Meliorn.” suggested Isabelle.” page 159 of City of Ashes.

    “Isabelle was kneeling in the embrasure of the window beside her bed, her gold whip coiled around her left arm. She was wearing her hunting gear, the tough black trousers and skintight shirt…” page 298 of City of Ashes.

    “The first time Simon had ever seen Isabelle, he’d found her so striking, so alight with life and vitality, and energy..” page 37 of City of Glass.

    “Isabelle entered the room in a swirl of black hair and tiered silvery skirts. The ivory corset top she wore left her arms and shoulders, twined with inky runes, bare.”
    “Good to know Isabelle’s flamboyant affection hadn’t suffered under the current circumstances.” page 145 of City of Glass.

    “Under the coat she was wearing one of what Clary called her “typical Isabelle outfits”: a tight short velvet dress, fishnet stockings, and boots.” page 10 of City of Fallen Angels.

    “Whatever she was wearing, Isabelle drew attention like a fireworks display.” page 10 of City of Fallen Angels.

    “Isabelle came stalking in, the high heels of her boots clicking on the polished hardwood floor.” page 45 of City of Fallen Angels.

    “In that way she was the opposite of Isabelle, who wore dresses and heels at even the most inappropriate times. (Though since he’d once seen her dispatch a Vermis demon with the stiletto heel of a boot, he was less inclined to worry about it.) page 102 of City of Fallen Angels.

    “She wore a dress that shone like a silver beacon.” page 183 of City of Fallen Angels.

    “That new lead singer they have is hot. Is he single? I’d like to ride him around town like a bad, bad pony-” page 184 of City of Fallen Angels.

    “Go back to what you were doing. What’s the point in wasting a perfectly good brick wall when you have someone to throw against it, that’s what I always say.” page 194 of City of Fallen Angels.

    “In the entranceway stood Isabelle, in boots and a black dress, her electrum whip in hand.” page 228 of City of Fallen Angels.

    “It’s just – I thought he would take it seriously, at least. Since I was so out of his league and everything.” page 236 of City of Fallen Angels.

    Maybe you should brush up on TMI, because I’m not sure you know what you’re talking about. Isabelle is more than what she wears or who she sleeps with. The only person looking at her like a sex object is you. If you reduce her to that, than that’s on you. The rest of us will continue to root for a strong, sexy and smart woman of colour. Have a nice day.

  16. noni

    “Isabelle’s clothes looked ridiculous. Clary had to roll the legs on the jeans up up severeal times before she stopped tripping on them, and the plunging neckline of the red tank top…” page 61 of City of Bones.

    “Clary tugged the hem of the dress down. It just brushed the tops of her thighs. She hardly ever wore skirts, much less short ones, so seeing this much of her own legs was alarming. “If it’s this short on me, how short must it be on you?” she mused aloud to Isabelle.
    Isabelle grinned. “On me it’s a shirt.”
    “She seemed to shimmer in the lamplight – she was wearing a long silvery skirt, and a sequined top, and her nails were painted like glittering coins. Strands of silver beads were caught in her hair. She looked like a moon goddess.” page 208 of City of Bones.

    “Isabelle was slinking in a circle around him, sinuous as a snake, trailing her fingers across his chest. She was looking at him as if she were planning into drag him off to the corner to have sex.” “..if they dance any closer together, they won’t have to go off in a corner to have sex.” page 222 of City of Bones.

    “Well, hurry up,” said Isabelle. “…”
    “They are pretty to look at.” said Jace, hopping back up on the pavement. “…”
    “So am I,” said Isabelle, who didn’t look inclined to admit anything.” page 218 of City of Bones.

    “Isabelle’s clothes didn’t allow for pockets; they were too tight. Clary was amazed they allowed for Isabelle.” 241 of City of Bones.

    “How do you manage never to get mud on you?”
    Isabelle shrugged philosophically. “I’m pure at heart. It repels the dirt.”
    Jace snorted so loudly that she turned on him with a frown. “…”
    “Filthy inside and out.” page 18 of City of Ashes.

    “Not that traditional princess behavior was like Isabelle at all. Isabelle with her whip and boots and knives would chop anyone who tried to pen her up in a tower ino pieces, build a bridge out of the remains, and walk carelessly to freedom, her hair looking fabuous the enitre time.” page 141 of City of Ashes.

    “Simon looked at her with suspicion. “And how do you know so much about faeries and the Seelie Court, anyway?”
    Isabelle, to everyone’s surprise, blushed. “…”
    Isabelle gave a cry and jumped into his arms. “Meliorn!”
    “Ah,” said Simon, quietly and not without amusement, “So that’s how she knows.” page 146-147 of City of Ashes.

    “I’m not sure they’re going out,” Jace said, weighting the last two words with heavy irony. “I’d guess they mostly stay in. Or in this case, under.” page 148 of City of Ashes.

    “I don’t understand how you humans can walk in shoes that are that tall.”
    “It’s my motto.” said Isabelle, with a sultry smile. “Nothing less than seven inches.”
    Meliorn gazed at her stonily.
    “I’m talking about my heels,” she said. “It’s a pun….”
    “I could kiss Meliorn.” suggested Isabelle.” page 159 of City of Ashes.

    “Isabelle was kneeling in the embrasure of the window beside her bed, her gold whip coiled around her left arm. She was wearing her hunting gear, the tough black trousers and skintight shirt…” page 298 of City of Ashes.

    “The first time Simon had ever seen Isabelle, he’d found her so striking, so alight with life and vitality, and energy..” page 37 of City of Glass.

    “Isabelle entered the room in a swirl of black hair and tiered silvery skirts. The ivory corset top she wore left her arms and shoulders, twined with inky runes, bare.”
    “Good to know Isabelle’s flamboyant affection hadn’t suffered under the current circumstances.” page 145 of City of Glass.

    “Under the coat she was wearing one of what Clary called her “typical Isabelle outfits”: a tight short velvet dress, fishnet stockings, and boots.” page 10 of City of Fallen Angels.

    “Whatever she was wearing, Isabelle drew attention like a fireworks display.” page 10 of City of Fallen Angels.

    “Isabelle came stalking in, the high heels of her boots clicking on the polished hardwood floor.” page 45 of City of Fallen Angels.

    “In that way she was the opposite of Isabelle, who wore dresses and heels at even the most inappropriate times. (Though since he’d once seen her dispatch a Vermis demon with the stiletto heel of a boot, he was less inclined to worry about it.) page 102 of City of Fallen Angels.

    “She wore a dress that shone like a silver beacon.” page 183 of City of Fallen Angels.

    “That new lead singer they have is hot. Is he single? I’d like to ride him around town like a bad, bad pony-” page 184 of City of Fallen Angels.

    “Go back to what you were doing. What’s the point in wasting a perfectly good brick wall when you have someone to throw against it, that’s what I always say.” page 194 of City of Fallen Angels.

    “In the entranceway stood Isabelle, in boots and a black dress, her electrum whip in hand.” page 228 of City of Fallen Angels.

    “It’s just – I thought he would take it seriously, at least. Since I was so out of his league and everything.” page 236 of City of Fallen Angels.

    Maybe you should brush up on TMI, because I’m not sure you know what you’re talking about. Isabelle is more than what she wears or who she sleeps with. The only person looking at her like a sex object is you. If you reduce her to that, than that’s on you. The rest of us will continue to root for a strong, sexy and smart woman of colour. Have a nice day.

    1. Sarah Rosina

      Have you noticed how they ignore all the evidence against them, just spout negative things and don’t come up with an answer when we ask for their proof?
      Who’s betting my comment will be taken down or ignored?

      1. fangirlishadmin

        We are not ignoring anything. We appreciate everyone’s opinion, but we disagree. No matter what we say – you will take it as what you want and we are not going to argue. No matter what anyone says in this fandom – it is greeted with hostility. And we are not going to indulge that.

      2. noni

        Yeah I have. What do you expect? They’re sprouting an opinion that reeks of sexism and slut-shaming that must come from a very hateful place. Woman aren’t allowed to be sexy and be smart and be strong right?

        1. Sarah Rosina

          Nah, she can only fit one stereotype. The fact that she’s being compassionate as well as light-hearted and sexy as well as a warrior is just a bit unrealistic, don’t you think?

    2. Sarah Rosina

      Have you noticed how they ignore all the evidence against them, just spout negative things and don’t come up with an answer when we ask for their proof?
      Who’s betting my comment will be taken down or ignored?

  17. Lauren

    I realise from reading the comments on this article that a lot of people disagree, but I actually thought this article was pretty accurate. I love Izzy’s character in the books – she is such an amazing character, and I love how she is totally badass and an amazing warrior, but we also get to see her vulnerable side. She always looks amazing and I’m honestly quite envious of her wardrobe.
    However, in the show I find myself simply feeling sorry for her, because of the judgement she receives from her own mother. Whereas in the books, her clothes were sexy, fabulous and put together, in the show they seem skimpy for the sake of revealing skin. I feel like the angelic rune on her chest was put there just to draw attention to her breasts. These choices just don’t speak of the real Isabelle, and I agree with the author of this article that she had been portrayed as a sex object. I totally agree with all the commenters saying that Izzy always dresses sexy and is very confident with her own body, which I loved about her character, but this seems to have been exploited and exacerbated in the show, until she seems to have no character value, and is only useful in a fight as a ‘distraction’.
    Her relationship with Meliorn is also very unsettling to me, as I really don’t like the sex-for-information deal implied between them. In the books I felt that they had a real relationship and were dating due to mutual attraction, but in the film it manages to come across as sleazy and consists only of sexual encounters in Meliorn’s tent, rather than actual emotion. The only time I felt Izzy really cared for Meliorn was when she broke up with him.
    Although these changes were vaguely annoying, as I felt they didn’t accurately portray one of my favourite TMI characters, what I actually found really disturbing was that Isabelle’s mother blatantly slut-shamed her for her wardrobe and relationship with Meliorn. When Maryse tells Izzy that they need Alec to get married to bring honour on the family (a storyline that reminds me strongly of Mulan), she tells Izzy ‘Well, you can’t do this. You and your Downworlders have seen to that. You can’t possibly attract the caliber of husband who could help us restore the honor to our family name’. I honestly felt horrified that her mother would tell her that no one honourable would marry her, as if her relationship with Meliorn had defiled her or made her unworty of a good shadowhunter husband. I hated seeing Izzy’s face this episode, every time someone made her feel ashamed for being confident with her body, having relationships with downworlders, and being a sensual and sexual person. The worst thing for me was at the end of the episode, when Izzy seems to change her whole appearance to please her family, as if she wasn’t completely perfect as she was. She even changed her hair, and to me she basically just looked like a clone of her mother.
    Despite the show’s bad points, I was enjoying it so far and planning to continue watching it. However, after watching this episode I felt kind of sick at Izzy’s treatment. I’ll keep watching, and hope for her to be able to stand up to her mother and celebrate her own sexuality, but I won’t be satisfied with the show until that is the case.

    1. Beata

      Thank you for leaving such a respectful comment! I really liked her sexiness in the books too but felt like the show focused too much on that and turned her into a stereotype, while kind of ignoring the more important aspects of her character. I totally agree that her relationship with her mom was awful – I complained about that in recaps, especially the line about her not being able to attract that caliber of husband. Oh my goodness that was awful!

      I definitely think that she improved later on. She wasn’t Isabelle, exactly, but none of the characters were exactly like their book counterparts, so at this point it’s hard to complain about that, but I saw a bit of her personality and fire in the later episodes, and definitely liked her a lot better.

      1. Lauren

        I’m glad you liked it! I was really happy to find your article because it was so similar to my thoughts after watching that episode.
        I also really liked her later on, and it was really great to see that she and Meliorn really cared for each other, which wasn’t really shown before. I do wish she’d actually gotten to make a stand to her mother; although she started dressing like she used to again in later episodes, I would have been really happy to see her call out her mother for the slut-shaming, especially since it seems like so many people didn’t notice it was happening at all. I honestly just didn’t like the whole ‘bring honour to our family’ storyline – it just felt very Mulan.

        Although some people have accused you yourself of slut-shaming the character in your article, I think bringing attention to an issue doesn’t mean you are a perpetrator of the problem, but helping make it visible. It’s really important to highlight issues like this, especially in shows that are so popular with young women, and it’s only through discussion of these problems that we’ll get decent representation of our characters, without any over-sexualization or slut-shaming. Here’s hoping that the show will improve all round, and all the characters can continue to develop.

        1. Beata

          Absolutely! One of my major issues with the slut-shaming was that it never seemed to be addressed. Izzy never stood up to her mom, and that actually felt really out of character for her. Maybe it was just me, but I thought Alec’s comment about fairy dust was very condescending, and Jace’s “she’s very comfortable in her body” came off extremely sarcastic (again, just me. I realize now that most people think he was actually being sincere. I certainly didn’t). I thought that if the show wanted to make her outfits so empowering, they’d at least have her stand up to anyone who criticizes her. She shouldn’t sit back and take that!

          I get that some people took this the wrong way. I definitely think female characters should be allowed to wear revealing outfits, but there’s a fine line between empowerment and oversexualization, and the difference is usually in the way the characters are marketed. Isabelle was facing away from the camera in promotional shoots, and, let’s face it, her only contribution to any of the fights in the first four episodes was her sexuality. The writers really seemed to figure her out later on, so maybe they actually meant for it to be empowering. Either way, it didn’t come off as such at the beginning. A lot of it is in the eye of the beholder, I guess.

  18. Lauren

    First of all, a lot of the comments here are extremely rude, and I’m sorry the author has to deal with that. Secondly, most of the people leaving comments seem to think that there was nothing wrong with the way Izzy treated Alec. The way she treated him really bothered me and if you’re straight, are you really in a place to decide whether her behavior was supportive towards him or not? (I personally think it’d be hard for people who aren’t straight to call her behavior in the show supportive.)