The United Nations named the comic-book superhero Wonder Woman as an honorary ambassador on Friday to fight for gender equality, amid criticism that the scantily clad fictional character was an inappropriate choice.
At a ceremony at the U.N. headquarters, U.N. Under-Secretary-General Cristina Gallach announced the appointment.
The new ambassador for the empowerment of women and girls has been known for her commitment to justice, peace and equality, she said.
Dozens of young girls cheered as former Miss World America Lynda Carter, who played the character in the 1970s, entered as a special guest the solemn U.N. headquarters hall where the event took place.
Carter appeared side by side with Israeli actress Gal Gadot, who will play Wonder Woman in an upcoming movie slated to be released in 2017.
“I really knew from the very beginning that she was important. That it was important to get it right. It was important that women understood and got that she was for women,” Carter told after the ceremony.
“It was not about being sexy, it was about strength and courage and community and about playing fair and getting it right,” she added.
Gadot, who met Carter for the first time, praised her predecessor.
“She is very much of a Wonder Woman. Now I understand why, now it makes so much sense for me that she was the first woman to embody this iconic character because she is all of it,” Gadot said.
The campaign, in collaboration with DC Entertainment, the company behind the character, and Warner Bros., asks people worldwide to “think of all the wonders we can do.”
Still, the opposition of some United Nations staff as well as women’s groups cast a shadow on the announcement.
The iconic character is known for wearing a skin-tight red, blue and white star-spangled bodysuit costume reminiscent of the American flag.
Several dozens of U.N. employees turned their backs in silence during the ceremony, showing their discontent with the choice of Wonder Woman.
Carter during the speech urged those protesters to “embrace Wonder Women.”
Online, more than 950 people signed a petition initiated by U.N. employees who asked that the choice of Wonder Woman be reconsidered, calling the character “a large-breasted, white woman of impossible proportions.”
Asked about the protesters after the ceremony, Carter dismissed them as misunderstanding the progressive nature of Wonder Woman.
“Get a grip,” she said.
Carter has endorsed Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and said that it was time for a female president after trying many consecutive men.
“She is the most qualified person ever to run for the presidency and I am with her. I am with her stronger together,” Carter said about Clinton.
This year marks the 75th anniversary of Wonder Woman’s debut in comic books.