The game's designer, Yoshiki Okamoto, originally wanted Chun-Li's health bar to be shorter than the other fighters'.

He said "You know how each character has a life bar? At one point, I wanted to make the power gauge for Chun-Li shorter than for the other characters because women are not as strong. But [another designer] didn't want to do that. We both had legitimate reasons, but then we came to an agreement to not make it shorter."
Contributed by ProtoSnake