Lady Dimitrescu—heiress of the Dimitrescu family, mistress of Castle Dimitrescu, and starring villain of Resident Evil Village—is 9’6, including her hat and high heels. For comparison’s sake: the tallest man to ever live, Robert Wadlow, was 8’11. Wadlow weighed 439 pounds; adjusted for height and proportion, Lady Dimitrescu would weigh approximately 600 pounds.
We know Wadlow’s height and weight because during his short life, he attracted press, scientists, well-wishers, and promoters, who wanted to cash in on his size. We know Lady Dimitrescu’s height and weight because the Internet is extremely turned on by her and her ability to lift people by their throats with a single hand.
The sexual craze over Lady Dimitrescu began with the release of the “Maiden” demo for Resident Evil Village. Approximately 20 minutes in length, it allows the player to explore Castle Dimitrescu, concluding with the titular Maiden unlocking a door and coming face-to-face with the lady of the house. Lady Dimitrescu ducks under the doorway, grabs and lifts the player by her throat, and sprouts massive claws on her free hand. She impales the player, and the demo cuts to black.
Social media caught fire, with thousands of people quipping that they’d rather be running toward her than away from her, and fantasizing about being stepped on. Its fervor reached enough of a pitch that Capcom decided to lean into it rather than away from it. Resident Evil art director Tomonori Takano released a statement on February 1:
“...Lady Dimitrescu and her daughters have received a fair amount of attention, far more than we anticipated. It’s great that they’re able to take the spotlight as icons of Resident Evil Village. Lady Dimitrescu, especially, has received much fanfare both domestically and overseas, which has made us all on the development team extremely happy. I hear her height is of some interest….
The announcement only fueled people’s enthusiasm with multiple cosplays, including one from 6’9 Olympian Ekaterina Visina. For the developers of the game, the community’s response to Lady Dimitrescu has been a welcome surprise.
“We wanted characters to have a sense of familiarity, but also present something else that would stoke a sense of fear or unease,” Resident Evil Village Producer Tsuyoshi Kanda explains in an interview with Complex. “I like how her character is dynamic, as in when you first meet her there’s a feeling of uncertainty, because she’s not noticeably scary or grotesque, which might signal to a player this is an enemy. In addition to Lady Dimitrescu’s physical design, we also took great care in designing her sound, like her laugh and her walk. Sound is an important element in how she evokes fear with the player, as she will stalk Ethan throughout the castle and players will hear her coming without seeing her.”
This push-and-pull dynamic—of desire and fear, and the desire to feel powerless and physically dominated—aligns with macrophilia, which literally translates from Greek as “lover of large.” Macrophilia manifests itself in many ways, but the most commonly seen archetype is of a macro woman, or ‘giantess,’ dominating a smaller, micro man. The 1958 film Attack of the 50-Foot Woman is one of the literal iterations of macrophilia in popular culture.
To gain more insight into macrophilia and how Lady Dimitrescu has been received by the public, Complex interviewed Todd Anderson, PhD, PsyD. He is a psychoanalyst in NYC whose specialties include working with those with sexual concerns and alternative means of sexual expression.
I first asked him about the male and female roles in this dynamic. What motivates the participants, and what do they get out of it? Dr. Anderson cautioned me about making this a binary male/female issue—that gender is a fluid spectrum, and that asking and answering these types of questions might play into heteronormative stereotypes. Thus, his responses should be taken in the context of a male/ female dichotomy.
“Though it is not always the case, the male/micro may enjoy the sense of submission to a more powerful other,” said Dr. Anderson. “In our culture, there is an association of ‘large’ with ‘powerful’ (which is at times difficult for large people). For a male to find a female with whom he can explore relational needs of dependence, submission, and ‘being taken care of’ can be challenging due to stereotyped gender norms.”
“The woman/macro represents a relatively societally acceptable ‘powerful other’ with whom the male/micro can explore such needs, desires, conflicts, and relational themes,” continued Dr. Anderson. “While these themes are often played out in the sexual realm, they need not be inherently sexual. However, sexuality, due to the concrete interpenetration and contact of physical bodies, lends itself to the concrete expression of more abstract needs. Longings, needs, desires, and conflicts can be safely played out in the context of a relationship with an ‘other’ who is also willing to engage in such a manner.”
Dr. Anderson advocates for open communication of these sexual expressions; so long as there is consent (which is non-negotiable), they are intrinsically neither good nor bad, healthy or unhealthy. But it takes excellent mental health to communicate less-than-common sexual desires to a partner; the ability to do so is a sign of mature sexuality. And fantasy scenarios with these sexual expressions could be an important step to owning them in real life.
“First, the ability to post memes or engage in chat about a fantasized character from a game may allow people a safe sense of a transitional space, a ‘holding environment,’ wherein they can explore what appears in their minds as somewhere between fantasy and reality,” said Dr. Anderson. “This transitional experience is not that different from the teddy bear of a child: on one hand, a child of a certain age knows that a teddy bear is just a teddy bear, yet at the same time, the teddy bear can come to represent and symbolize so much more.”
“In a similar fashion, talking about and engaging in relational exchange and banter about a game provides people with a transitional space to explore how ‘real’ their sexual fantasies may be versus how much they are just passing thoughts of interest,” continued Dr. Anderson. “This type of playful, transitional space is important for anyone to allow themselves to continue emerging in the ever-changing configuration of who we feel ourselves to be.”
Could the memes and dialogue around Lady Dimitrescu lead to more serious, open conversation about people’s sexual desires? For his part, Kanda says that the development team did not deliberately set out to sexualize Lady Dimitrescu, but concedes that perhaps it’s a part of her overall charm. Rather, her appearance stems from the overall aesthetic and theme of the game: beautiful, yet terrifying at the same time.
“None of us on the development team could have predicted how wonderfully fans have reacted to Lady Dimitrescu, including people who are not as familiar with Resident Evil games,” said Kanda. “We’ve received all sorts of positive feedback from all over the world, young and old, men and women, and it was just really great seeing people react to a character you’ve worked on creating.”