The Law of Cartoon Pants

Cartoon pants

Do you feel a need to wear pants while in public? Some people do, but not too many cartoon characters. Wolf Gnards analyzed the incidence of pants-wearing by cartoon characters and distilled the principles that animators tend to use when deciding whether or not characters should wear them. One of those apparent rules is that adult and male characters have more pants-free options:

Networks seem to demand more clothing on female and children characters, animals or not. For example, Yogi Bear's girlfriend, Cindy Bear, had to wear a skirt, while Yogi's crotch was free to the world. Or Gadget from the Chip & Dale had to wear more clothing than the others. No pants was obviously an option for the rest of the Rescue Rangers crew, but Gadget had to wear a jumpsuit, also known as, the maximum amount of clothing possible. Or take a look at the Shawn Bradley vehicle Space Jam and the introduction of Lola Bunny, a fully clothed female bunny. Making her one of the few clothed Looney Tunes characters. Likewise, The Tiny Toons were “tiny” versions of the adult Looney Tunes, and each character had their equal; Bugs Bunny to Buster Bunny, Daffy Duck to Plucky Duck, and so on and so on. Similar designs, similar personality traits, but clothed. The Tiny Toons mostly wore shirts or, at least, hats and shoes, whereas the adult Looney Tunes they were based on were nude.

Link | Image: Warner Bros.


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I would speculate that Yogi wears a hat and tie because these are the most male specific clothing items and denote him being male. Cindy wears a skirt because this is the most female specific clothing item [other than high heels]. Same reason female animals usually have lots of long human looking hair, but males just have fur or feathers on their head. It makes it eaiser for little kids to tell the boys from the girls.
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Too bad the article wasn't based on fact, but more on the author's imagination.

THe bottom line is that characters were drawn as male first, and not having a need for clothing to determine their gender. The female versions had to be differentiated somehow from the males, and adding gender-specific clothing is the obvious option.

You'll notice that cartoon cows show a lot of udder, but nobody complains. If Daisy Duck were to sprout barenaked breasts, people would be up in arms.
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