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A giantess is a female giant: either a mythical being resembling a woman of superhuman size and strength or a human woman of exceptional stature, often the result of some medical or genetic abnormality (see gigantism).
Polytheism and mythology
The Titanides, sisters and children of Titans, may not have originally been seen as giants, but later Hellenistic poets and Latin ones tended to blur Titans and Giants. In a surviving fragment of Naevius' poem on the Punic war, he describes the Gigantes Runcus and Purpureus (Porphyrion):
- Inerant signa expressa, quo modo Titani
- bicorpores Gigantes, magnique Atlantes
- Runcus ac Purpureus filii Terras.
Eduard Fraenkel remarks of these lines, with their highly unusual plural Atlantes, "It does not surprise us to find the names Titani and Gigantes employed indiscriminately to denote the same mythological creatures, for we are used to the identification, or confusion, of these two types of monsters which, though not original, had probably become fairly common by the time of Naevius". Other giantesses in Greek myth include Periboea, the princess of the giants that participated in the Gigantomachy, and the queen and princess of the Laestrygonians who participated in the attacking and devouring of Odysseus' crew.
Grid was a giantess who saved Thor's life. She was aware of Loki's plans to get Thor killed at the hands of the giant Geirrod and sets out to help him by supplying him with a number of magical gifts. These gifts were: a girdle of might, a pair of magical iron gloves, and a magical wand.
The giantess Gerd was very beautiful and her brilliant, naked arms illuminated air and sea. Freyr fell in love at first sight and the account of her wooing is given in the poem Skirnismál. She never wanted to marry Freyr, and refused his proposals (delivered through Skirnir, his messenger) even after he brought her eleven golden apples and Draupnir. Skirnir finally threatened to use Freyr's sword to cover the earth in ice and she agreed to marry Freyr. She became the mother of the mythic Swedish king Fjölnir.
Skaði journeyed to Ásgard to avenge her father Þjazi, whom the gods had killed. She agreed that she would have that renounced if they allowed her to choose a husband among them and if they succeeded in making her laugh. The gods allowed her to choose a husband, but she had to choose him only from his feet; she choose Njord because his feet were so beautiful that she thought he was Baldr. Then Loki succeeded in making her laugh, so peace was made, and Odin made two stars from Þjazi's eyes.
After a while, she and her husband separated, because she loved the mountains (Þrymheimr), while he wanted to live near the sea (Noatun). The Ynglinga saga says that later she became wife of Odin, and had many sons by him.
Upon Frigg's entreaties, delivered through the messenger Hermod, Hel promised to release Baldr from the underworld if all objects alive and dead would weep for him. And all did, except a giantess, Thokk, who refused to mourn the slain god. And thus Baldr had to remain in the underworld, not to emerge until after Ragnarok, when he and his brother Hod would be reconciled and rule the new Earth together with Thor's sons.
Giantesses are common in the folklore of Ireland and the British Isles, particularly Scotland and Wales. They were often depicted as loving and beautiful people and, in later versions of myths, seemed to resemble Vikings, who had raided the coasts, in appearance. A notable giantess in Irish mythology is Bébinn.
Modern art and literature
In Lewis Carroll's story Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, there are several scenes where the heroine Alice grows to giant size by means of eating something (like a cake or a mushroom). Similarly Arthur C. Clarke's story Cosmic Casanova describes an astronaut's revulsion at discovering that an extraterrestrial female he adored on a video screen is in fact thirty feet tall.
Size-changing heroines have appeared in such comics as Doom Patrol, Mighty Avengers, Marvel Adventures Avengers, Team Youngblood, and Femforce. In the latter series, the giantess-superheroines Tara and Garganta combine immense size and strength with beauty and femininity, and have a cult following among both men and women. Conversely, size-changing villainesses, such as Wonder Woman foe Giganta, use their strength and beauty for less altruistic purposes as a weapon to crush their foes. Giantesses are also common in the manga and anime mediums of Japan. She-Hulk's nickname is "The Jade Giantess", due to the main character growing in size and more powerful when becoming She-Hulk and often rips the clothes off that she's wearing and grows almost two feet, towering over everyone she's near.
The giantess also appears in modern-day art, illustration and fashion. UK based illustrator Emma Melton has used the giantess as a symbol in her illustrated fashion line 'Blessed by a Giantess', which aims to promote healthy body image in young girls and spread the message that 'We are all beautiful.
The giantess theme has also appeared in motion pictures, often as a metaphor for female empowerment or played for absurd humor. The 1958 B-movie Attack of the 50 Foot Woman formed part of a series of size-changing films of the era which also included The Incredible Shrinking Man, The 30 Foot Bride of Candy Rock, and Village of the Giants. The 1993 remake of Attack of the 50 Foot Woman, starring Daryl Hannah in the title role, was advertised as a comedy; many scenes did parody earlier size-changing movies (most notably The Amazing Colossal Man), although the central theme was feminist. The heroine Nancy, formerly a cipher to her domineering father and husband, is empowered by her new-found size and starts to take control of her destiny, and encourages other women to do the same. Both versions of the movie enjoy a cult following.
More recent movies with giantess themes are Honey, I Blew Up the Kid (1992), Malèna (2000), Dude, Where's My Car? (2000), Hable con ella a.k.a. Talk to Her (2002), Ella Enchanted (2004), The Ant Bully (2006), Monsters vs. Aliens (2009) and Roger Corman's Attack of the 50 Foot Cheerleader (2012). In Malèna, there is a scene where the young protagonist, Renato Amoroso, fantasizes about being a few inches tall and having Monica Bellucci (Malena), pick him up and take him to her bosom. In Honey, I Blew Up the Kid, after Adam grew 112 feet tall and had been wandering through Las Vegas, Diane Szalinski, who was the wife of Wayne Szalinski and mother of Adam, asked her husband to enlarge her so she can hug Adam and prevent Hendrickson from harming her son. As she was exposed to electrical waves, Diane became a 120 foot tall giantess, but later returns to her normal size with her son Adam at her side.
In Dude, Where's My Car?, five nubile female characters morph into an extraterrestrial 20 foot tall giantess played by Jodi Ann Paterson (Playboy Playmate of the Year 2000) who picks up one of the characters and eats him. Talk to Her features a sequence in the style of early silent cinema called 'The Shrinking Lover,' where an accidentally shrunken scientist is rescued from his mother's clutches by his lover, who carries him home in her handbag. The shrunken scientist then roams his lover's body while she lies in bed. Monsters vs. Aliens features a satirization of Attack of the 50 Foot Woman in which the main protagonist, Susan Murphy, is clobbered by a radioactive meteor that causes her to grow up to 49 feet, 11½ inches, becoming Ginormica. In The Ant Bully, Lucas and the ants escape down the kitchen sink drain, believing that Tiffany is a giantess as she walks into the kitchen with her sandal feet and crushing an ant. In Roger Corman's Attack of the 50 Foot Cheerleader, Cassie Stradford, a college student of Iron Coast University, steals the drug and injects herself with it to makre her very pretty. However, the drug had a really big side effect when she starts to grow taller and taller until she is a 50 foot tall giantess. When Brittany discovers this, she tried to seduce Kyle into giving it to her. Even when Kyle was trying to prevent her from knowing, she was accidentally injected with more of the drug than Cassie and growing into a 75 foot tall giantess. After a brief catfight, Cassie injected the antidote into Brittany, making her shrink into a dwarf.
Outside of Hollywood, giantesses have also appeared in special interest films. AC Comics giantess Garganta is featured in a live action DVD movie available from accomics.com entitled Gargantarama, which also includes giantess scenes from many movies as well as the feature length 1958 B-movie Attack of the 50 Foot Woman. Embracing the use of the giantess in popular culture, AC has made it a frequently recurring theme in their products.
Giantesses have also appeared in advertisement campaigns, with similar erotic/humorous intent. In 2003, a commercial for the Italian company Puma featured the theme. The giantess, played by model/actress Valentina Biancospino, stomps around town causing havoc and swallowing a man whole before finally picking up a man (played by Italian footballer Gianluigi Buffon) and kissing him. The following year, Lee Dungarees commercials used the giantess theme alongside the slogan "Whatever Happens, Don't Flinch," hiring model Natalia Adarvez to play a 90 foot tall giantess. Also that same year, Victoria Silvstedt (1997 Playboy Playmate of the Year) posed as a giantess for an advertisement for Max Power London, a car show held in London in November 2004. In the February 12th, 2005 edition of the UK newspaper, The Sun, Miss Silvstedt again posed as a giantess of Godzilla height next to various London landmarks. In a CSL ad, actress Claire Forlani appeared as a 98 foot tall giantess walking around the city of London and meets a giant, who is the same height as her.
Giantesses have also appeared in some television series such as Genie in the House, Snorks, Schoolhouse Rock, The Electric Company, The Muppet Show, Dexter's Laboratory, Animaniacs, Toonsylvania episode in Attack of the Fifty Footed Woman, Totally Spies! episode in Attack Of The 50 Ft Mandy, Phineas and Ferb, and The 7D. The Snorks episode "The Littlest Mermaid" features a scene where a mermaid grows into a giantess caused by a machine. The Schoolhouse Rock episode "Unpack Your Adjectives" includes a scene where a tall girl grows into a 34 foot giantess, causing only her legs and sandals to be seen. She then stomps on a small boy who wouldn't stop laughing at how tall she grew. In the first episode of The Electric Company, Judy Graubart grows into a giantess while holding up a sign for the kid audience to read that says "giant". In the Dexter's Laboratory episode "The Big Sister", Dee Dee becomes a 65 foot giantess after eating an experimental cookie. The Animaniacs character Katie Ka-Boom sometimes grew giant sized before she turned into a monster. In the Phineas and Ferb episode "Attack of the 50 Foot Sister", Candace Flynn grows into a giantess after she uses some of Phineas and Ferb's growth potion. In the episode "Pony Tale" of Genie in the House, Max's niece Louise gets left with the girls, and when she learned of the genie's existence, she made a wish of wanting to get big, in which the genie was forced to accept her command and made her into 55 foot tall giantess for a brief time.
The giantess theme occasionally manifests in music videos as well, notably Pamela Anderson's role as a giantess in the video Miserable for the rock group Lit. In the video, the band members perform on Anderson's body and are eventually devoured by her at the end, a metaphor for women as "maneaters". In a 2007 song called Small Town Crew, Heather Mansfield plays a singing 90 foot giantess who visits New York City in order to meet a small town crew and have them play for her while continuing to sing.