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At this week's Devotional, BYU Human Development Professor Sarah Coyne pulled from her research – a recently finished a study on the effect of the superhero and princess cultures on children – to talk about the contrast between the fantasy of pop culture idols and the reality of true royalty. 

Sarah Coyne
Credit: Aislynn Edwards/BYU Photo

"Batman, Captain America, Ironman and Spiderman all have some excellent redeeming qualities, yet they pale in comparison with the ultimate superhero: Jesus Christ," Coyne said. 

By really understanding that divine potential, Coyne said, it's much easier to see ourselves, our bodies, our families and our destiny in a better light. 

"Men – please do not worry about trying to conform to the muscular ideal we see in the superhero culture," Coyne said. "Please do not view your body as merely an object meant to be honed to ultimate perfection. When I picture Christ, I picture the ultimate superhero – but I do not picture him as particularly muscular as [superheroes are] portrayed in media today.

To the women, Coyne said, we are here on this earth to do great things – bigger things than simply being a princess rescued in a fairytale. We need women of action. 

"Do not be afraid to share your experiences and your insights in a class or in a calling," she said. "Especially when you are in a leadership position. We need your voices! We need you all. We need the single sisters, we need the mothers, we need the widows, we need the grandmas, the aunts and the daughters, we need the women who work and we need women who stay at home with their children."


Superheroes and princesses can be entertaining to watch and fun to emulate, but it's also important to realize that these cultural icons have flaws and limitations, Coyne said. By understanding our own royal identity we can truly tap into our own great potential. 

"We have the potential of having greater power and reach than the most powerful superhero portrayed in media today," Coyne said. "Let us not waste this precious gift. Instead, let it shape our identity and be a comfort to us when we are going through our hardest moments." 

Sarah Coyne
Credit: Aislynn Edwards/BYU Photo

If you missed Coyne’s remarks, the Devotional will be archived on

Next Week's Devotional: Alan Harker, Associate Academic Vice President

The next BYU Devotional address will be given by Alan Harker on Tuesday, June 7, at 11:05 a.m., in the de Jong Concert Hall.

His remarks will be broadcast live on BYUtv and, KBYU-TV 11, Classical 89 FM and BYU Radio.

Writer: Beau Jones