Costume Questioning

The end of August brings many things… cooler nights, the start of school, and many, many Halloween catalogues to our mailbox. I’ve made my thoughts on these catalogues – and more importantly, the costumes held within them – abundantly clear in one of the 1st posts in my Bitch Magazine series, Mom & Pop Culture last year. This year is no different. We arrived home from a weeklong vacation to a plethora of costume catalogues. My son sees them as his “magazines” and can spend almost an hour pouring through them, flipping back and forth between his favorite costumes and thinking aloud about some of them.

Yesterday, as I was making dinner, he quietly scanned the pages of one particular catalogue, until he came across something that seemed to bother him. We talked about it for a few seconds, before I put dinner on hold, wanting to record these questions and thoughts he was struggling with:

And yes. Batgirl has a bubble above her that says “I’ll be the cutest girl in Gotham.” sigh. In addition to her outfit not being very Superhero-friendly, the words suggest she’s more interested in looking cute than saving the day. Add to that they sexy poses (which you’ll never see a male superhero do) and it’s just a big ball of *ugh* that is obvious to pretty much anyone.

I mean, if a 5.5 year old grasps that there’s something inherently wrong with the types of costumes and the way they’re marketed towards girls, don’t you think that says something?

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23 thoughts on “Costume Questioning

  1. Wonder Woman would have hard time getting to her lasso, wouldn’t she? Bless him! Also, the mama in me keeps thinking about how it’s cold on Halloween in lots of places! Why must girls be sexualized by costumes *and* freeze their over-exposed limbs off?

    • Totally hear you on the cold thing. I grew up in a place where it snowed as many Halloweens as it didn’t. If we hadn’t limited ourselves (first it was mom’s doing only, then we saw how right she was) to costumes that allowed for bundling up/dressing for the weather underneath, trick or treating would have been downright unbearable.

  2. I’m pretty sure it says that he’s grown up in a home where he’s been encouraged to think outside the box and to critically examine his world. CAN I SEND YOU MY KID?! I’m so worried I’m gonna screw all that up.

    • Aw, thanks Tannis! And I think that if you’re even worried about screwing up your kid, you’re totally on the right track, you know? You’re aware of all the challenges and madness you have to deal with, so I’m certain your kiddo is going to grow up aware and engaged for sure!

  3. I find the ‘sexy’ outfits for kids absolutely disgusting, that being said, how else are you going to make a spider-girl if not putting her in a skirt? Just have it go to the knees, not mid-thigh.

    …and Batman holds his gadgets in his belt, so even Batgirl would be OK in that department.

    I don’t think there is anything wrong with making a girl version of male superhero costumes, and if you don’t want your girl to wear it, then get her a boy version?

    • I definitely think that you *can* wear a skirt and save the world (or pretend to!). My own issue, apart from my son’s observations, is that skirts are the default when it comes to dressing as a female superhero. Why can’t batgirl have black capris or pants? Skirts aren’t a bad thing, even for superheroes, but when they’re the only option? Then there’s a huge problem.

      Sent from my iPhone

      • Maybe the company that sells the costumes don’t want to make two sets of Batgirl costumes (one with a skirt, one without) but want to cut costs and only make the one most girls prefer? I am speculating here, but my bet would be the skirt.

        My daughter is 1 year old, so I don’t have this problem yet – but I will in the near future and it is something I think about.

      • There ARE some superhero women who wear skirts – supergirl is in fact one of them. But not a skirt made of tulle. I have no problem with them wearing a skirt – if that character normally does, but make it appropriate to the character. Spidergirl actually has a one piece unitard type costume just like spiderman, she just has long hair flowing out of her mask/hood. Batgirl – if I recall, was all pants/unitard – but sometimes had a little “peplum” to hint at a skirt… depending on the artist.

    • As a big comic book fan, I have to correct you on this…the “actual” Spider-girl does not wear a skirt. She wears essentially the exact same thing as Spider-Man, because it is the logical choice of costume type for the work they do and the particular powers they have. It’s a “girl” costume because a girl is wearing it…just like it would be a boy costume if a boy was wearing it (skirt or not). Clothes do not define gender.

      • Some 6 year old girls just like skirts. I don’t think they care if the costume is accurate. Other than that, I agree.

        …and I didn’t know about Spider-girl. You live and you learn.

    • Just like there are suit jackets and pants for women that are designed to fit a woman’s body, they can also make costumes with pants that are for women or girls. Skirts like most clothing targeted towards women and girls restrict mobility. Skirts and dresses often make it difficult to sit comfortably and don’t allow you to sit with your legs crossed in indian style, or ride a bike or be able to climb things or twirl around on the monkey bars without having to fix your dress/skirt. Heels make it very difficult to run or actually even walk. Many times tops are so tight that it makes it difficult to breathe.. I could just go on and on about this and it happens in almost every culture.

  4. To be fair – that was actually more cover than wonder woman NORMALLY gets. :) but Comic book nerd that I am, this bugs the crap out of me. :) Your son is totally right. Granted – the comics have them all sexualized etc, but at least they are in costumes they can move in. at LEAST make the costumes “accurate” – but it really is sad. I just made superhero capes for my girls, and they are real capes with their initials on them and they can be whatever hero they want to be in their own heads.

  5. My inner nerd/Fan-girl is really annoyed with that catalog.

    The only purpose the skirts are serving is sexualization- of the small sampling you’re showing on the video, the only characters who actually wear skirts are the Pink Power Ranger (and c’mon, would it be that hard to give her pink pants? stupid marketing), and Supergirl. Supergirl has long sleeves, better for a little girl, but she also has an exposed middrift… not so good. Batgirl wears tights like Batman. [http://images.fanpop.com/images/image_uploads/Batgirl-and-Supergirl-comic-27s-345551_519_640.jpg] There is a Spiderwoman, she looks NOTHING like that [http://images.wikia.com/marveldatabase/images/6/64/Spider-Woman_(Jessica_Drew)_1.jpg] so making a skirt-ed version of the male costume is purely for the sexxies… Wonderwoman is really the only one who’s costume, when invisioned for a little girl, might benefit from a skirt- as her original costume is more like a bathing suit. http://www.geekscape.net/_wp_/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/wonderwoman_large.jpg But the newest incarnation has pants…

    The thing is, I have a 3 year old daughter, and if she wanted to dress like the REAL heroes, I’d let her. The real Batgirl is only sexy in that her clothing is tight, and she has lady parts that get shown off that way. Put a pear-shaped little kid in that and they just look cute. It bugs me that they are basically making “girl versions” of things when they don’t need to. There are plenty of female super heroes- slutting up male hero costumes isn’t for little girls!

  6. Perhaps someone needs to write a comic where the sassy hero wears a skirt and kicks ass and proves us wrong…or gets stuck on things and gets chilly (but looks cute doing it)

  7. Pingback: On Girl Monkeys and Boy Monkeys and Calling Every Animal ‘She’ | Team McFord

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