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Girls & Women

Gal Gadot Defends Bullied Sri Lankan ‘Wonder Woman’ Cosplayers

Gage Skidmore/Flickr.

Since hitting the big screen this summer, the blockbuster action film Wonder Woman has empowered young women to be strong-minded and independent.

That’s why Sri Lankan cosplayers Seshani Cooray and Amaya Suriyapperuma were drawn to the DC Comics character.

The two lifelong friends dressed up as Wonder Women at Sri Lanka’s Lanka Comic Con, but one day later, their pictures were spread around Facebook, where the women were mocked and body-shamed.

Demeaning online memes called the girls “too skinny” to be wearing the Wonder Woman costume and commenters compared the two girls’ bodies against each other.

Cooray and Suriyapperuma were shocked when their friend showed them the memes.

“I had never been face-to-face with cyber bullying of this scale,” Suriyapperuma told the Hindustan Times.

“[Amaya's] body was being compared to mine," Cooray added, "and I couldn’t do anything."

Gal Gadot, the actress who portrayed Wonder Woman, has shown her support for girls and women inspired by her DC character. When she learned about the two girls who donned the superheroine’s costume, she tweeted her support for the two girls and ignored the cyber bullying.

Cyber-bullying and violence against girls and women is a global concern and, according to the United Nations, this practice is on the rise, threatening peace and the sustainable development, according to the United Nations.

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Instead of responding to the hate and criticism, the two girls and the whole Sri Lanka geek community worked together to report and take down as many of the memes they could find. They received overwhelming support from the Geek Club of Sri Lanka’s Facebook page, which helped to remove some of the memes.

On Twitter, reactions to the college girls’ pictures started to change to show more support and praise.

Since then, posts of support for the two girls spread across the web, overshadowing the once objectifying and demeaning memes. Three days after the first supportive tweet, the photo received over 60,000 likes and over 42,000 retweets. Others adopted the girls’ photo into the promotional image for the Wonder Woman movie.

Their pictures soon captured the attention and support of Patti Jenkins and Gal Gadot.

The girls were ecstatic to have their pictures recognized by the Wonder Woman star and director, but they were also happy to see the wave of resistance against online bullying and body-shaming that grew from their pictures.

"When I was informed that Patty Jenkins [had] tweeted our picture and praised our efforts," Cooray told the Hindustan Times, "I joined Twitter and read the post again and again to get back my confidence."

“The film didn’t focus on the superhuman’s gender, and the character believed in fighting hate with love,” Suri told BBC. “If people start seeing women being strong as a normal thing — which is what the movie tried to do as well as what I want — then more and more women will stop tolerating harassment."

Wonder Woman’s lesson to fight hate with love rang true for the two girls, showing that empowering women can mean learning to be strong minded and independent as well as standing together against hate.