Capes For Everyone! Why Does A Little Girl Have to Wear a Skirt to Be a Superhero?

The thin pink line between a superhero and a princess.
Publish date:
August 16, 2011
kids, entertainment, princesses, costumes, gender roles, superheroes

One of my favorite things is seeing kids out in the world wearing pajamas, elaborate party dresses, Fireman outfits, or any other ensemble that reeks of "My chill parents totally let me wear whatever I want."

So I was tickled when I saw this little girl cruising down 14th street with her cape billowing in the breeze behind her. Is she a vampire? A superhero? A 1990s goth? I don't know, but I salute the ensemble.

Then today I saw this article about a father who sewed his daughter a Wonder Woman costume she was invited to a birthday party in which the boys were supposed to dress as superheroes and the girls were supposed to dress as princesses.

And yes, this is cute, and I'm obviously all for poking at gender expectations, but I wish a little girl didn't have to wear a skirt to be super.

In fact, when it comes to girls' costumes, it's a thin pink line between a princess and a superhero. This is a "spidergirl" costume, in case you didn't notice the spider logo above the pink frilly tutu.

I kid you not, the promo copy for the below costume says, "If Barbie had superhero powers they would be the ability to know the latest fashions, the power to coordinate the perfect outfit and everlasting beauty because Barbie never gets old."

Since when is "tulle" a major component of superhero costuming?

And who wants to be Spidergirl anyway? There hasn't been a tentpole movie about "Spidergirl" released in the past decade. The year everybody was dressing up like Sarah Palin, you didn't see men dressing up like "Boy Sarah Palin," you saw them putting on wigs and shoving some fake knockers under a skirt suit. So why can't little girls just dress up as the REAL Spiderman or Batman? You know, the good one.

Of course, you can dress your daughter up in the Batman costume, but you're not supposed to. That's why the websites and advertisements show nothing but boy Batmans as far as the eye can see. Even the freaking baby costumes feature a pink "Batgirl" logo on the chest.

I've got nothing against princesses. They're just not superheroes. And Batgirl's cool and all, but considering she hasn't appeared in a feature film since 1997's "Batman & Robin," I have to think that the little girl getting hornswaggled into the Batgirl costume is a lot more familiar with the man himself.

So while a little girl who wants to be a princess should get to be one, a little girl who wants to be a superhero shouldn't have to.