Trace of Two Pasts novel discussion

frosty

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The Snowman
The Twilight Mexican said:
And to add to that, there's a minimal observation that Kyrie feels a bit inferior in looks to Tifa, and slightly jealous about Evan's obvious attraction towards her. These things don't exist in a vacuum
I'd argue that there are a tonne of ways to describe awkward attraction for an incredibly (perhaps intimidatingly so even) beautiful woman without having to directly reference her chest 😁

Side note, I follow a # called #menwritingwomen and once you see instances of cishet men describing attraction only by talking about boobs and nary any details about facial features or personality traits, you see it EVERYWHERE. 😂

LicoriceAllSorts said:
I think Tifa has figured out that the least confrontational way of dealing with guys constantly hitting on her is to act utterly oblivious
She's been doing it since a child, actually. See avoiding Emilio, Lester and that other dude by pretending not to acknowledge their affections.

Being small and aggreeable is actually the safest way to avoid a small % of attention that might potentially turn aggressive.

LicoriceAllSorts said:
Not being a remotely beautiful woman myself, I don't know what it's like to live as one, but I would imagine it's pretty relentless.
Like all things in life, it's probably a double edged sword. Get extra tips at the bar? Never know if the guy hitting on you will try to follow you home.

Do well at your job, say, selling buns by working really hard? Have people make disparaging comments of how you probably hit sales targets by being beautiful, then grow an "I'll show them that I'm actually flipping smart!" attitude and work yourself half to death to prove something to no one and develop a complex while you're at it 🙄

I actually would have really liked an internal monologue from Tifa describing this, and how it translates to wanting to protect herself with hard work and martial arts, but it takes a really talented writer to describe pretty privilege emphatically.
 
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KindOfBlue

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Blue
I think it’s also telling that Marle seems to be able to spot the difference between how Tifa acts around other guys and how she acts around Cloud specifically, presumably Tifa is friendly all-around but there’s just something different about that spiky-haired blonde edgelord with the big sword (and “no skills”) almost like she knows this is the one guy Tifa actually likes so she’s gonna grill him like the protective granny she is (Marle is best girl, fight me)
 

Eerie

Fire and Blood
I actually would have really liked an internal monologue from Tifa describing this, and how it translates to wanting to protect herself with hard work and martial arts, but it takes a really talented writer to describe pretty privilege emphatically.
Peko was nearly slained by the description of making and selling buns, I could hear a "no more!" would there had been more lol. It was an extremely difficult part to translate properly since she didn't know how to make these, and had to ask around to get an idea. This story had to advance at some point and make us meet up with Jessie, Biggs and Wedge, after all.

As for SE trying to oversell Tifa's beauty, I want to say "duh". Yes, they will, they enjoy their characters being beautiful and sexy (look at all of them), to them it's a plus, not a minus. And Tifa was always meant to be the sex bomb of FFVII, which was meant to clash with her characterisation. Cloud, the guy YOU play, isn't going to end up with anything else than a smashing beauty, that's the thing (and yes, I consider Aerith to be also very beautiful). But it's not that the others aren't super beautiful, it's effectively that Tifa is a step ahead. Interestingly, Andrea compliments her... muscles (as well as Cloud's), which is probably them wanting us to notice that Tifa works very hard to have this kind of figure (chest excluded of course). Same for Sam too. They are telling us, the players, that Tifa earned a great part of her looks by working on it - and ToTP showed us how she lost it all once when she wake up in Midgar. Tifa's hardworking, and it's a way for SE to showcase this.

@KindOfBlue Marle noticed definitely because she knows Tifa very well, and it's definitely the first time she's seen her being so happy. Which says a lot about Tifa's previous years in Midgar, and why she doesn't want to talk about it to Cloud: to her, it's not "good memories" to share with him, rather hard times she wants to forget about. She was very lonely, which is why Jessie especially and then Aerith mean so much to her.
 

kathy202

Pro Adventurer
Wait, I thought Tifa works out because it's her way of dealing with hardship, not because she's trying to look hot. Looking hot just happens to be a side effect of it. And I don't think Cloud needs to end up with a smashing beauty, he just needs someone who accepts him for who he is. The beauty thing is an added bonus which is why I prefer there to be less emphasis on it...

But I don't know why I actually expect that from a game that's filled with beautiful people running around pulling cool stunts. It's one of the major reasons I play the game too lol
 
Exactly. Cloud and the other guys also work out and look hot as a result.
(Actually, I'm not sure whether Cloud needs to work out or whether jenova cells + mako did the job for him)
 

kathy202

Pro Adventurer
That's what I thought, and I misread Eerie's post as the other way around and got confused. Thanks for clearing it up.

As for Cloud, yeah probably the Jenova and Mako. He did spend the last 5 years suspended in a tube. I don't think he worked out much then. Same applies to Zack in that case.

Though I guess the real reason is that creators just want them to look hot :p
 

frosty

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The Snowman
kathy202 said:
As for Cloud, yeah probably the Jenova and Mako. He did spend the last 5 years suspended in a tube. I don't think he worked out much then. Same applies to Zack in that case.
I wondered about that too because surely long term cyro-sleep and lack of use causes muscle atrophy and cellular damage? But I guess if Captain America could maintain his ripped bod after 70 years with techno-magic hoohaa, so can the both of them. :mon:

I also have to say that this particular TLS convo about Tifa (frank assessment of her status as SE's sex(y) symbol), being able to evaluate writer's intent from various perspectives, and be detached enough to understand SE might have some problematic portrayals of Tifa in the past - is definitely one of the more mature threads.

I can't seem to get onto soc med without all kinds of headache-inducing "WeLL TiFa DreSSeS LIke A S*Ut" "SHe MuST HaVe HaD LeD JoHNNY ON" or "Oh YEAH, WelL AeRiTH DreSSes LiKe YOuR GraNDma" - even within the Final Fantasy tags.

So...uh, good job being internet adults, everyone~ :D
 
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Haha, yeah...Twitter in a nutshell. The reasons behind people's thoughts provide variables that make conversations like this complicated. Though actually, there are things I don't totally agree with here either, which if I'm not mistaken is mostly just that her beauty intentionally written to be pointed out is too much in the game and contradicts ToTP + SE's treatment of her beauty? I know no one is trying to debate or anything, we're just talking here, so I'll give my thoughts since this topic has been kind of everywhere as of late and I've accumulated thoughts as a result of Twitter mobs saying she's over-sexualized in the game and ToTP by how she's viewed by the village boys/the plot she dealt with in Midgar.

I definitely agree that Tifa is the poster model of the "attractive character" of the series. A lot of series have this, and a lot of the time it's more than one character too. However, there's a big difference between having a character simply represent this trope vs excessively sexualizing them within the content itself—which the latter is more of a showcase of writing style and the type of content they're creating. To say something is "too much" or "excessive" means we have a line that is considered the amount not to cross, right? I think that mileage is going to vary on what exactly this supposed line is. Like, it seems some people here feel a "alright already, yes we understand, she's pretty"—which to be fair, even in Intermission when Corneo's men were trying to recruit Nayo (with her beauty being pointed out), Tifa's beauty was mentioned even there too as part of the Corneo subplot when she joins up, thus making them back off of Nayo.

But like, this just isn't a problematic threshold for me, especially when a part of it in the game is even related to the plot itself anyway—ToTP offers it as something a bit closer for her character and how it affects her. Unlike some people on Twitter, I honestly think it's problematic to move towards this idea where writers creating beautiful characters and having that interaction in the world somehow translates to them regarding the characters as "sex objects", which has been argued about Tifa's story in ToTP. I'm going to downright say that is just dumb right there. Saying she's excessively sexualized in the game and in ToTP puts WAAY more weight on what actually was done and by the nature of it in the content. Having her beauty pointed out by other characters in the game and novel, the infamous jiggle physics (which is not just her), or having the purple dress that is objectively revealing/sexy looking (fair to say I think, but I guess some people might not think so lol)—these things cross the line for some folk, but for me it isn't enough to really bother me or go "wow, that was too much". Which is ironic about the dress by the way, considering that, for a proposed over-sexualized Tifa, her dress "reveal" [it isn't] would've turned out VERY different. She literally just shows up and it's the same no matter what she wears. That could be argued as a dev writer commentary of "she looks great in everything", but again, is this a line crossed for her representation?

I certainly don't think it contradicts the ToTP story for her character's struggles in the world either as a byproduct of her beauty—it makes it something real to the character as opposed to just this existing fact that she doesn't personally interact with, which a lot of series do this. If we can understand being beautiful is a part of her character, then the themes that are showcased in the novel are actually necessary to be consistent with this. I'm not sure I'd even say the point of this aspect of Tifa's story in ToTP is the devs trying to say "don't think Tifa's sexy" to the fans. It's just her story and what she had to deal with. I don't really see the problem here on that front. Twitter mobs should keep in mind that for all Tifa's character can claim to represent and have attached to her, all of that has not been taken away and reduced to her physical appearance. Let's not forget what that actually means in practice for a character or even a real life person.

Not that anyone is doing it here, but the topic does kind of remind me whenever I found myself dealing with that same headache @frosty mentions, where I didn't agree with Twitter mobs insistence on labeling Tifa as a "fan-service character" [particularly in that of sexualization] as if it's the ultimate functionality of her treatment in the game. I kid you not, that was the literal argument in how to define her character by someone. It's just highly unnecessary, for one thing, while also confusing what that should actually mean for a character's role. ToTP has sparked up conversations on it again, along with "Tifa was taking advantage of her beauty in the village". What?

Even if I disagree with a few here on her treatment within the game and novel, I'm absolutely GLAD it's different than the above take. My god. The problematic nature of Tifa's portrayal seems more from the fanbase than the actual content ultimately. There are some societal double edge swords to character design of "sexy is cool" for male/females in media, I'll admit, but I can't really place having Tifa's beauty being a part (not all) of her character as part of the problem on SE's end, especially for what's in this novel.
 
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Eerie

Fire and Blood
Well tbh at this point if all you see is Tifa's boobs being "problematic", it's on you, not on the devs (and I'm saying "you" while thinking about fandom, obviously). Yes, Tifa has boobs - shocking I know - but she's way more than that. She has a lot of depth and at this point her fans shouldn't have to defend themselves because they like her, especially because some of them retort with stupid lines against Aerith too. Both ladies are top notch and it's about time fandom grows over it.
 
It would be wierd if such a gorgeous and toned women was walking about in the slums and nobody ever noticed or commented on how stunning she was. IRL, people notice and comment on such things. In-game, a lot of people are incapable of, or uninterested in, looking beyond Tifa's outward appearance to the person inside. A lot of fans are guilty of the same thing.

Re jiggle physics: given that they DO jiggle, making tits rigid as a rock face in what is otherwise hyperrealistic GCI would be to draw even MORE attention to them by making them behave in a very unnatural way. It's kind of a mystery to me why anybody would remain excited for twenty years or however long it's been over one video game character's jiggly boobies, but, whatever, I guess.
 

frosty

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The Snowman
LicoriceAllsorts said:
It would be wierd if such a gorgeous and toned women was walking about in the slums and nobody ever noticed or commented on how stunning she was. IRL, people notice and comment on such things. In-game, a lot of people are incapable of, or uninterested in, looking beyond Tifa's outward appearance to the person inside. A lot of fans are guilty of the same thing.
Mmm, I'd have to say yes...and no. The truly stunning, they absolutely, 100% know that they're knockouts. :D I've worked with a few in my line of work. (The kind that were scouted at 8 or 12, had careers in modelling till early twenties, then be head-turning enough to remain in front of the cameras as TV / live event hosts well until they were 30-40+)

They don't actually get told that they're stunning. It's like telling water is is wet or fire it is hot. But the atmosphere in the room absolutely changes when they come in. People sit straighter, people are more attentive. Laughs get ALOT louder when they crack a joke. Attention gets laser focused when they do something. It's fascinating (as a 3rd party) to watch.

So my beef was more of Nojima's constant writing and telling the audience "Tifa is beautiful". "Did I mention she's beautiful?" "Hey, well, character A-B also says she's beautiful" "Boobs! But don't objectify her boobs, yes?" It definitely comes across to me as "I'm a man writing what I imagine a stunning woman must feel like on a day-to-day-basis."

I mean, I'm sorry Nojima. But I've seen your photos and you're not a stunning woman - so perhaps I can forgive you for not knowing what it's like. :lol:

Hence my earlier thought that more nuanced writing would be to have Tifa herself monologue that she acknowledges that does get privileges, but it's also how it works against her (harassment / having to consciously keep herself small and draw less attention to herself esp in a slums environment where she might get trafficked etc.)

But I'm just being nitpicky. I do actually really enjoy the novel. :)
 
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Mmm, I'd have to say yes...and no. The truly stunning, they absolutely, 100% know that they're knockouts. :D I've worked with a few in my line of work. (The kind that were scouted at 8 or 12, had careers in modelling till early twenties, then be head-turning enough to remain in front of the cameras as TV / live event hosts well until they were 30-40+)

They don't actually get told that they're stunning.
You....sure about that? I'd like to say really everywhere, though it could be more prominent in the US, but it's absolutely normal, if not expected, to tell people directly if they're pretty, beautiful, handsome, etc. Especially 8 to 12 year olds, kids really, as some form of praise in a way. And if you really stand out as such? Yeah, you're going to spend your life called out as such. Of all the things written, I'm not sure that aspect is necessarily unrealistic.
 

Eerie

Fire and Blood
I think it's vastly different if you're working with the modeling industry, for example, like frosty apparently, or if you're talking about your everyday life... I mean obviously people working with models aren't going to tell them they're beautiful because that would be really weird, but outside work? I'm pretty sure they're getting called beautiful etc. by strangers, having random guys trying to flirt with them a lot, be it in the streets or in a bar... Honestly, working has different codes than your everyday life, I'd say.
 
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kathy202

Pro Adventurer
That might explain why Jessie gets fewer comments about her looks than Tifa :mon:

But more seriously, yeah, in my experience, the absolutely stunning ones don't get told they're pretty. People just talk about it behind her back and get nervous around her lol. And no, the person I have in mind is not a model or actress or anything like that. It's the sweet looking but not scarily stunning ones that get this "pretty" comment all the time. Though I suppose that does describe Tifa.

As for the argument about "if you can't look beyond her figure, that's your problem", I would agree if we're talking about a real person. But Tifa is fictional, and people react to it based on what they're shown, and the devs control what they show.

I think the fanbase is quite capable of looking at large-breasted women beyond their chest. Nobody really denies that Beatrix and Yuna are extremely strong characters despite their outstanding breasts, yet there's enough Twitter/Reddit nonsense out there accusing Tifa of being boobs with no personality. It does seem to be a minority take (I think?), but it's not a negligible minority.

Personally, I like Tifa's characterization in AC best. Yes, she has all those physical characteristics which we can clearly see, but they're never really emphasized aside from a few cute close-ups of her smile. The bulk of it is her going on with her life, being her usual slightly passive self when Cloud disappears, but eventually pulls herself together and looks for him. She learns what has happened, and protects Marlene (and later Denzel) without hesitation. When she finally gets to Cloud, she scolds him very appropriately, and we see Cloud slowly pulling himself back together after that too. Nothing about her looks or figure, despite clearly having them, and unquestionably an amazing woman.

I do think her characterization in ToTP and the remake is at least half about appearances based on what I've seen so far. If that's the story they want to tell, fine. We can still see that she's a reserved, down-to-earth girl so at least they didn't screw that part up, but the extra stuff about looks just doesn't feel very compelling to me, and I suspect is a reason a fraction of the fanbase can't see past "boobs" despite normally being able to.

It's similar to how I find the Whispers/Destiny thing rather random. If they wanna write a story about fate, sure, just can't say I'm really into it.

And regardless of what I've said, I still love the game/novel lol. Just pointing out the parts I don't really like/find redundant.
 
Oh and that's fine! I do think there's an interesting commentary here though on that line/mileage I mentioned.

Because, how you described her involvement in AC, if you were to take the Remake and do the same for Tifa, HALF of what you'd say shouldn't be about her appearance, if even specifically her boobs. I agree that there's a certain thing between writing and audience where the latter is going to take what the former gives. But if half of what someone gets about Tifa's character in the Remake is "boobs", that IS on them in this case.

The physical descriptions mostly are an aspect that is a part of what other people (a majority who don't REALLY know her) observe about her from a distance, including one who has a major crush on her. But for how she's involved in the plot and what she shows? Saying half of it comes down to her looks is a bit much for an impression, but that's what some fans are affected by in these fandom spaces that will over indulge in things like that regularly. And, l that can take is even just the existence of Tifa's purple dress, as opposed to a few moments where characters point out her beauty. Yes, other characters like Yuna or Rinoa are beautiful characters, but writing-wise? This impression of Tifa shows you give fans an inch and they'll take it to the next galaxy, because, boobs.

In this case, I don't think this a real reflection of what's actually shown, but it does show that people are going to be affected by things more than others in what they end up taking away from a character and the story.
 

The Twilight Mexican

Ex-SeeD-ingly good
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TresDias
You....sure about that? I'd like to say really everywhere, though it could be more prominent in the US, but it's absolutely normal, if not expected, to tell people directly if they're pretty, beautiful, handsome, etc. Especially 8 to 12 year olds, kids really, as some form of praise in a way. And if you really stand out as such? Yeah, you're going to spend your life called out as such. Of all the things written, I'm not sure that aspect is necessarily unrealistic.
I'll double down on this and say that I would find it unrealistic if Tifa's appearance was emphasized any less. Maybe it's my cultural background that gives me this expectation, and maybe folks would expect this to be less of a thing in the U.S. now in the age of #MeToo, but that cultural shift doesn't really mean much in the reality of those lower on the socio-economic scale than Matt Lauer or Andrew Cuomo.

As a random example, I work in municipal environmental compliance -- i.e. wastewater treatment, industry discharge monitoring, restaurant grease interceptor inspections, etc. It is altogether customary for females in this sort of work with even half a pulse to be told by guys they've just met on the job "You're too cute to be doing this sort of thing" or to be asked some form of "How's your boyfriend let you have to do this sort of thing?" (this question serves two purposes: 1) establishing whether there is a boyfriend in the picture; 2) implying that if there is, the guy asking the question would do a better job of taking care of her such that she could keep her nails pretty).

If a guy feels he has nothing to lose by shooting his shot, we're usually just going to go for it. Now look like Tifa, and live in an environment that is defined by "nothing to lose." How do you think that's going to go?
 
I understand what Kathy means. A story that focused more on Tifa's inner life wouldn't frequently be reminding us that she's extremely sexually attractive. The developers are trying to have their cake and eat it, constantly harping on about her beauty and then rapping fans on the wrist for objectifying her.

However, I think there's some big differences between TOTP, the Remake, and ACC, which account for the shift in focus. In ACC Tifa is in an established, if difficult, relationship, and we only see her interacting with people who know her well. Loz is a remnant with a child's mentality and no sexuality, so he doesn't react to her beauty. Her physical appearance just isn't an issue in the story ACC is telling.

In TOTP we are seeing a young girl trying to build a new life for herself in the dangerous dog-eat-dog world of the slums. Her beauty is a major factor in this story, because it both opens doors for her and makes her a object of attention. If she were a plain girl, her story in TOTP would be very different. So her physical appearance is relevant, and because her physical appearance in such a huge factor in how people treat her, it's also a huge factor in how she thinks about herself.

To some extent the Remake is trying to capture that element of the OG where Tifa's beauty was the talk of the town, or at least the talk of Sector 7. We understand this young woman could have taken the easy route to a fortune by going to Wall Market, but has chosen instead to work hard for a living, tending a bar, selling water filters, killing the occasional monster. She is respected by the people of her community, who know her strengths.
 
Internal and external matters for a character story—you guys know these things have never been mutually exclusive and they certainly don't have to, especially when whatever relevancy the external has is with actual purpose for setting up scenario and setting perspectives—especially once she reaches the slums where it's just as much a commentary on the environment itself. If we're seriously comparing the moments that Tifa's appearance was relevant vs. literally everything else there is to get out of her character from the storytelling, it's a no contest for the latter being what this novel is primarily about—this in addition to the commentary she gives once it flashes forward to her telling the story to the group that allows us to know her feelings on things. I've only made it as far as Peko's translations in terms of reading in full + a full synopsis of the story from Audrey, but....I can't tell if we're just exaggerating for the hell of it for the sake of discussion, or if we're genuinely acting like 80% of the novel is passages describing Tifa's beauty impractically?

I still don't see how/why the relevancy of her appearance where it falls should be seen as a contradiction to any intended sent message of "don't objectify this character" (which I still don't believe is really a thematic point/commentary of the story anyway), or why any and all relevancy to Tifa's appearance should beget fan's typical perversions—it isn't even told this way in the novel for the latter! I've read published novels where you'd have, maybe every other chapter, where the author would use these types of descriptions in just describing a character, even just doing something—where her (and yeah, always a female) appearance would be enunciated in a passage for really NO reason outside of just really trying to hit home to the reader that, hey, this character is a looker and creating imagery. It's like what you'd get if certain manga like this were in novel form.

Lol Well, I'm going to sound like a broken record at this point, but I just don't get how it's even worth painting this aspect of the story in such a large way.
 
I must say I don't think it is the job of an author or creator to lecture their audience on avoiding objectification. The purpose of art is to hold up a mirror to society. It's not to act as a substitute religion providing guidance on how we should treat each other. If by reading TOTP and playing FFVII people come to the conclusion that objectifying individuals isn't a decent way to treat them, then that's good. But I wouldn't have called it a theme of either the book or the game? Would other people describe it as a theme? I think it's more of a theme in fandom discourse than in the game itself.
 
I mean, it kind of feels like people are treating it with that importance when it's painted as an author intent of "don't objectify Tifa" for the fans or that Nojima is talking out of both sides of his mouth because of the relevancy of Tifa's appearance—at least that's what I've gotten from what's been said. Which I don't think at all, nor that what's written is really in conflict with the notion of not objectifying Tifa (or woman for that manner) either—I just don't think it's the point anyway. Or if to be direct, that we shouldn't really think of it this way, that this novel somehow conflicts with that idea and we should see it as something that consumes the material.

I just mostly wish we'd be out of the ballpark of "wow, Nojima described Tifa's appearance SO much", as the material itself isn't nearly that impressive in where/how it does it. Buuut that might be wishful thinking on my part. Either way, I'm still glad it isn't like that of Twitter here where it's used as a means to recontextualize the information TO objectify or call Tifa a slut. Whatever works lol
 

Eerie

Fire and Blood
It's really funny because I really didn't pay so much attention to that and it really didn't hit me just how much he was describing her appearance :x On top of my head there's the times when she was still at Nibelheim; either with the boys' look on her changing or the chit-chat from grandmas about it (and in both cases she doesn't like it), and then in the last part with Jessie (but then Jessie also gets complimented by Tifa so there's that, it feels very enthusiastically sisterly to me) and that guy who wants to make her come to Wall Market. That's what I can remember and from the very long novel, I don't feel it's too much, it describes her changing (at Nibelheim), her having a cute chat with a new girl friend (Jessie) and her getting in trouble (the guy from Wall Market).

On the other hand, I have the impression that her being a sex symbol is all that's written in the first 150+ pages of her novella if I only go by this thread :lol:
 

villains23

Rookie Adventurer
AKA
v
I mean, it kind of feels like people are treating it with that importance when it's painted as an author intent of "don't objectify Tifa" for the fans or that Nojima is talking out of both sides of his mouth because of the relevancy of Tifa's appearance—at least that's what I've gotten from what's been said.

I wouldn't say it's the objective of Tifa's story - not at all, because there's still a story to be told filled with other important points - but personally I felt that it was one of the messages which Nojima wanted to communicate with her story. The reason for this is because Nojima had tied Tifa's appearance into some of the more memorable moments in her story, and some of the more memorable parts of her character development, to the point where I got the impression that he was doing this on purpose. It felt like it was done deliberately and intentionally, and I got the impression he did so because he wanted to communicate messages about Tifa's character as it related to her appearance. Simply put, it seemed like he turned the attention of the reader towards Tifa's appearance (not the entirety of the story of course), and used it as an opportunity to showcase the content of her character in a way that extended past her physical beauty. Her appearance was like the elephant in the room, and rather than ignoring it, Nojima acknowledged it and used it to shine light on more important aspects of her character. I'll bring up several examples which I think showcases what I'm talking about.


(98-121)
“It’s okay. I can do this.”
“No, it’s not. You keep messing up.”
It was exactly as he said. She moved aside, hanging her head in frustration and disappointment.
“You’ve got a nice set of muscles. Guess you lack stamina. Thought you’d be a great way to attract customers though.”
Uncle’s harsh words pierced her.
“Just go home for now. If you can come tomorrow, then come. If not, then we’ll leave it at that. Don’t have time to teach you everything.”
...
She didn’t want to see anyone. All she wanted to do was to hide under the covers. But how could she do that to Rakesh? She couldn’t treat him that way.
...
“Oh yeah? So you think you can continue? Uncle was worried about you.”
“I’m fine. I have to keep going.”

This was Tifa's first day at the job. She found out that she was valued based on her appearance by Uncle. She was allowed to quit, but she didn't, and resolved to continue working at the stall. In this scenario, Tifa's worth was valued by her appearance, but with the way that Tifa responded to this situation, it highlighted her perseverence and determination to improve and continue working. Tifa sold around 200 buns on her first day, 400 on her second day, and eventually up to 1000 a day, which matched what the previous employee was capable of doing. She usually sold over 1000. This demonstrated, as an employee, while her appearance helped to attract customers (which Uncle mentions later in the story as a lesson about business), she was able to carry her own weight and was as good as the employee who worked there before her. It's worth mentioning that Tifa was motivated to hit that 1000 mark, as she set goals that she had to hit in order to maintain a work-pace which would allow her to hit that mark (she had to cut her time down to around 30 seconds for each bun, or 28.8 seconds according to Tifa). Once again showing that her success at the stall came through her own efforts.


(98-121)
“In five years, it’ll become just another part of you,” said Damini. “This young lady here got the same procedure done half a year ago. Look. Here are the photos from the recovery process.”Tifa sucked in her breath. Damini was showing Marle the printouts of her exposed chest.
“I don’t wanna see that! Get that outta my face!”
...
“What do they think women’s breasts are?” spat out Marle. “I’m sorry. Because of all my grumbling, you had to go through something so humiliating.”
“It’s nothing.” But she was happy that there was someone there who understood her. “You took me by surprise though.”

This was the time where Tifa met Marle. It was a situation in which Tifa's chest was "indecently" exposed to a stranger, which became a humiliating moment for Tifa. Marle is one of the more important NPCs in the remake, and saw Tifa as a granddaughter figure. What I thought was interesting was that Tifa's appearance here was the basis for their meeting. Her appearance is tied into Marle's character, and Marle acts as a protective figure to Tifa. I think this was something Nojima did deliberately to tie some interesting subtext into their relationship - their relationship ties a sense of protectiveness into Tifa's appearance.


(122-149)
“Hey there, City Beauty. It’s your chance to get rich quick! You can apply with those pretty looks of yours! How’s about workin’ that pretty face to make some money?”
“I’m not interested.”
...
“Hey! What are you doing?!” It was a woman’s voice.
Turning around, she saw Jessie barrel towards them, propel herself upwards into a jump, before driving a toe kick smackdab into the side of the hoodlum’s face."

In this situation, Tifa was being scouted as a prospect to work for Corneo in Wall Market - it was obviously due to Tifa's appearance. What's interesting here is that it's another situation in which an important NPC, Jessie, becomes acquainted with Tifa. The basis of their interaction here is Jessie's protectiveness of Tifa after she was harassed due to her appearance. Jessie walks Tifa back to her container home. They became acquainted with one another. Tifa tells her story to someone else for the first time, and Jessie becomes a special friend to Tifa. Again the basis of their meeting here was the protectiveness of Jessie after Tifa had been harassed for her appearance. This is another situation in which Nojima had used Tifa's appearance as the basis for more important character developments.


(122-149)
"The last remaining officer shoved the nose of his rifle into the swelling of Tifa’s bosom. Humiliation and anger moved her. She kicked up and caught the trooper’s jaw with the tip of her foot... A figure jumped over her. It was Gatekeeper. He rose up in front of the trooper, who was just a mere boy, and his hand moved horizontally across the boy’s throat. Blood spurted out from it. She saw the glinting of a knife in Gatekeeper’s hand.
Shrieks erupted among the curious onlookers, and then she fainted."

Tifa's appearance here (her chest) becomes the basis of a traumatic scenario for Tifa. It was obviously a traumatic incident as she had not only witnessed the death of somebody she considered to be a "boy" - which caused her to pass out - but she had to pass by that location every day and was reminded of what had happened. I thought what Nojima did here was interesting because it tied her appearance into something traumatic. It was a graphic scenario. I felt that Nojima wanted to make an impact on the reader in which they would associate her appearance with the trauma she had endured.


(122-149)
“I’m pleased to hear that. I need your trust from now on too. It’s going to be okay. If you maintain your current pace, you’ll be a free woman in less than three years.” Then Rakesh looked around, lowered his voice and said, “I think you can pay it off sooner by working at Wall Market. That’s the thing, you see, you can’t force it. But if you’re seriously thinking about it, let me know.”
Whatever trust she had in Rakesh was now gone."

Once again Tifa is scouted as a prospect for working at Wall Market, and it's no doubt because of her appearance. Rakesh was the first "friend" which Tifa had made ever since she's arrived in Midgar, and it was at this moment when Tifa had lost all trust in him. This signified the end of her friendship with her first "friend.", and it was due to her being valued based on her appearance. This was a way for Nojima to tie Tifa's appearance into more important plot and character developments.


These are some examples I've found which I thought helped to explain my point. I don't think Nojima brought attention to Tifa's appearance as a way to tell us about how cute she was. I think he was doing so in order to communicate more important messages about Tifa's character. It showed how Tifa reacted to being valued for her appearance. It showed how her behavior changed - for example becoming more committed at proving her ability to work at the bun stall. Her appearance was associated with the trauma and negative experiences she had experienced due to her appearance. It became the basis of important character relationships she formed with Marle and Jessie, and it allowed her to see the truth about Rakesh.

I felt that Nojima had created these scenarios linked with Tifa's appearance deliberately. It was like the elephant in the room, and rather than ignoring it, Nojima wanted to acknowledge it and used it as a way to communicate messages about Tifa's character. He's acknowledging that, "Yes, Tifa's attractive," but he's showcasing the content of her character that extends beyond that physical beauty. I hope I don't offend anyone by saying this, but by claiming Nojima made these references to Tifa's appearance as a way to tell us about how cute she was is, IMO, not the case and feels like a shallow way of looking at both Nojima's storytelling and Tifa's character in ToTP.

As far as the "don't objectify Tifa" point goes, it felt like a meta-commentary which Nojima was making with the novel. It's not the only point he was making, no not at all, but I think it was one of the messages he wanted to communicate with the novel. As I noted above, it seemed like the references to Tifa's appearance was done intentionally from an external-universe perspective (in-universe too for character and plot reasons but that's not what the point is about here). From an external perspective, it was like Nojima - the author, the man himself - is acknowledging that, "Yes Tifa's attractive," but he - Nojima the man himself - is also encouraging the fans to look beyond that external beauty and to look at the content of her character that extends beyond the surface.
 
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