Mommy, why do the girl superhero costumes have skirts?

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Photo by JD Hancock, used under Creative Commons license.

Avital, author of the blog The Mamafesto (among many other things!), had a conversation about gender and Halloween with her five-year-old son yesterday — without even meaning to. They had just arrived back home after a family trip and had a stack of Halloween costume catalogs waiting for them. Her son started flipping through the pages and then made a surprising discovery that he had a lot of questions about:

And SERIOUSLY. A skirt would most definitely get in the way of all the crime fighting and ass kicking, wouldn’t you say?

You can read more from Avital at The Mamafesto.

Comments on Mommy, why do the girl superhero costumes have skirts?

  1. Kuddos to that smart little guy for seeing and understanding something that some adults seem to miss. As a fangirl it made getting costumes difficult, my mom would just make me the real version I wanted anyway cause skirts on a kid at the end of October in Oregon would make for one very cold and possibly wet child. And she knew I was a tomboy anyway who wouldn’t be caught dead in a skirt. But seriously, way to go little man, you made me smile.

  2. Cute video, but at the end, he concludes that the costumes are presented that way because it would make girls want to buy them. It would have been cool if his mom had mentioned that not all girls want to wear skirts.

    • Yeah, I think she was trying to emphasize that at 5 he realizes girls are being marketed to like this. Like, the costume catalog people know if they put skirts on girls then girls will want to buy them, because society tells girls they should wear skirts. I imagine the conversation went on longer but the way it ended is very intentional.

  3. I don’t think a skirt would get in the way at all — several super heroes wear skirts or dresses and still save the day. It has more to do with what one is more comfortable in than only one set of clothes being good for the job.

    Very few super heroes are dressed for the job – it’s far more about image and identity than what’s best to save the day – personally I think the skin tight clothes often used would hindered far more in my eyes in my eyes than any skirt.

    I find it sad that the mentality that someone can’t do XYZ in a skirt — they rarely say it about men in kilts or historical men before trousers were really used (they haven’t been around that long, quite a lot of history happened without them and people had a more active lifestyle just fine).

    • Probably top of the list for impractical clothing clearly chosen for the look – capes! Especially the huge billowing ones worn by the likes of Batman and Superman. Might look awesome when you’re swooshing around the city (and Batman sometimes has it rigged to turn into a glider) but when you’re trying to walk or turn or sit or…pretty much anything they get tangled and caught on everything!

      Which is odd considering in at least some versions Superman’s costume is made by his mother. I don’t care how invincible you probably are, you can guarantee your mum will insist on something safe and practical, with pockets and a warm lining for visiting the Fortress of Solitude.

  4. I think skirts are somewhat used to enhance a woman’s curves – even a super powered, crime fighting woman… and its much easier to distract a bad guy with a skirt before you punch him in the face… hey, if a guy is going to stare, then why not use our sexuality/hotness for some good… 🙂

  5. so, first, that is quite cool – and the way things are marketed to girls drives me *up the wall*.

    but…as a femme, i have to say that there’s not much you can’t do in a skirt (and a flowy skirt provides a *lot* more freedom of movement than most jeans). also, i can provide photo evidence that you can wear a toolbelt over a skirt very functionally. lastly, as someone who is at least a bit modest, i would much rather fight villains in a skirt than in spandex =)

    but as a fangirl, i think the costume should reflect the comic accurately, which these don’t.

  6. Slight devil’s advocate moment here: while obviously the skirts are not authentic to the superheroes outfits, the authentic superhero outfits are all designed to be revealing in OTHER ways. I mean, Wonder Woman was in a leotard — in some ways, the skirt is LESS sexualized. (Although definitely more gendered.)

    So while I’m totally onboard with the critique of these costumes, it’s not like the “authentic” superhero costumes are chaste potato sacks.

    • Same goes for the men. I’m always a bit confused when people complain about the female costumes being revealing while the men are apparently find just because it goes down to (at least) the wrists and ankles. The fact that they may as well be wearing body paint because it conceals absolutely nothing apparently doesn’t come into it.

  7. Actually, the thing that bothered me the most was the caption above Batgirl that said, “I’ll be the cutest girl in Gotham!”

    WTF?! Am I the only one who thinks that’s a little messed up? These superwomen are supposed to be empowering, not “LOOKIT HOW PRETTY I AM!” I’m pretty sure Batgirl or Supergirl didn’t prance around saying “I’m the cutest girl in Gotham/Metropolis/wherever!”

    That said, I think the costumes should be authentic…what’s the point of them otherwise? If you really want a dang skirt, then go buy one.

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