Birthdays are not simple things at TwickersTowers. There is always a theme. Makeshift entertainment. Homemade costumes. Well usually.
This March Little E requested a Superhero Party. Iron Man was the hero of choice having rejected the once favourite Spiderman; although there was deep consideration of Batman and Thor beforehand. Her invite was a bit of fun splicing Little E's head onto various superhero bodies. It was at this point that I realised I had more of a choice of male bodies than female.
BigL chose Storm from the X-Men. MiddleS dressed up as Supergirl. They worked hard cobbling outfits from what they had in their wardrobes. But to be honest when they were looking for inspiration on the net, there were slim pickings to start with. Once you clear out the inappropriate leather clad, boob-a-licious costumes there is little left for a young girl to choose from.
Male superheroes costumes are comically beefed-up for kids now highlighting their strength and power. Often masked or cloaked the blokes get to create a sense of mysticism, foreboding and intrigue. And what of the women? Waists pinched to the bellybutton, possibly exposed. Breasts and nipples protruding from skin-tight bodices. Skimpy skirts that barely shield buttocks. Hi-leg briefs that proclaim a recent visit to a waxing salon. So the upshot of our female heroine (always a difficult word to use in the classroom - heroine: double meanings and all that) is that she is available, provocative, probably cold, and in need of a well-fitting bra.
Recent manifestations of female characters in superhero movies has seen them become more powerful, independent, smart, holding a more pivotal role in the narrative. Yet still, if you chuck a female superhero's name into a search engine - thar she blows: pouty lips and glistening thighs. Yes I did only type 'female superheroes'. Honest. Obviously there are a child-friendly costumes for these characters but if, like us, you do cheap n cheerful costumes, then Goggle images becomes your inspiration. Chuck in the decades of wistful princesses and fairies before Merida the Brave stormed onto our screens, and as usual we are battling the representation and perception of the female form.
Isn't it time we stopped re-hashing old superheroes and created some fantasy characters that entitle our little girls to privilege and empowerment?