Star Trek had a habit of sticking competent, professional female characters in absurdly tight catsuits when there were perfectly good uniforms that they looked wonderful in? I get the production justification—science fiction’s fanbase is seen as predominantly young and male and, I guess, sexually frustrated, so giving this fanbase something to leer at seems to be a priority for a lot of producers. It’s a pretty gross reality of television production but it’s particularly troubling and obvious on Star Trek.
One of my favourite moments of The Next Generation is when Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis) put on the proper uniform at the insistence of a temporary commanding officer. Sirtis was thrilled that she was, in her own words, a “sex symbol”, but she pushed for Deanna to wear the uniform and I’m so glad that the writers listened to her. Troi held a doctorate and a military commission. She deserved a uniform. This is one case where Star Trek got it right.
Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan) wore a set of skintight catsuits for four years on Voyager, wearing a Starfleet uniform twice in the series, both times either a simulation or an undercover mission. The expanded universe has cooked up justifications—that the catsuits included medical technology that helped her body heal from Borg implants and she didn’t wear anything over the top because it would have been inefficient—but all of those ring kind of hollow because, really, the writers wanted to shove some crude fanservice into the show. That Seven was a strong character despite this owes a lot to Jeri Ryan.
Finally, in Enterprise, T’Pol (Jolene Blalock) spends the first two seasons in a Vulcan High Command catsuit, then the third season in a variety of civilian catsuits and the fourth season in a Starfleet-issue catsuit because, despite the perfectly good uniforms the rest of the women on the ship were wearing, they just had to show off Blalock’s admittedly amazing abs. But T’Pol’s almost a hundred years old! She’s a very skilled scientist! She used to be a spy! She’s got more experience in space than the rest of the main cast put together ten times! Blalock wore the uniform once in season three and looked fantastic, so why did they keep her in the catsuits once she joined Starfleet? Although, the second time she wore something similar it was even worse.
Also, shout out to Kira Nerys (Nana Visitor) on Deep Space Nine, who wore a catsuit that was at least a military uniform and worn by other characters besides her.