8-Year-Old Star Wars Fan Takes On Disney — and Wins

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The Disney Store’s UK site has changed its gender-specific labelling after an 8-year-old girl complained that a Darth Vader costume was marked “for boys.” (Photo: ©20th Century-Fox Film Corporation, TM & Copyright/courtesy Everett Collection)

A young girl and die-hard Star Wars fan inspired a major change on Disney Store’s UK site, convincing them to switch their Darth Vader costume from a “boy’s” outfit to a “kids’” one. 

While trying to choose a Darth Vader costume for her eighth birthday present, Izzy Cornthwaite saw that the site for the UK Disney Store categorized the outfit as only for boys. “Her face fell,” her mother, Rebecca Heyes, told The Guardian. “[Her eyes] filled with tears and she said ‘I can’t have it, it says they’re only for boys.’”

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But instead of accepting that the costume wasn’t for her, Izzy wrote to Disney to express her disappointment with the costume’s labeling. A week later, she heard back. The letter from Disney, according to The Guardian, read “The description for this costume has now been amended as we understand that all our little Jedis enjoy Star Wars.”

And, indeed, the description has changed. Disney UK also banished its gender labels on items as varied as a Princess Elsa dresses to Captain America suits. In fact, the site no longer even has “Boys” and “Girls” categories, simply one marked “Kids.”

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Neither Rebecca Heyes nor Disney UK responded to Yahoo Parenting’s request for comment.

The Disney Store U.S. site still labels their Darth Vader costume “for boys” and Elsa is still “for girls.” They didn’t respond to Yahoo Parenting’s request for comment.

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Ellie Evangelista, dressed in her Spiderman costume, baking muffins with her dad, Steve Evangelista. (Photo: Margaret Ryan)

This move by Izzy and her mom is just the latest piece of activism against gendered labels when it comes to superheroes and other toys. This Sunday, a Superhero parade will march 10 blocks in New York City, all because one 4-year-old was told by classmates that she couldn’t be Spiderman because she’s a girl. “Ellie loves Spiderman. We got her a Spiderman costume for Christmas, she adores it. She has [Spiderman] pajamas she wears every night,” her mother, Margaret Ryan, tells Yahoo Parenting. “Then she started coming home and saying she didn’t want to be a girl anymore, and I said ‘what do you mean?’ And she said ‘I want to be Spiderman, and to be Spiderman I have to be a boy. So when I want to be Spiderman, I turn into a boy and when I am done being Spiderman, I turn back into the Ellie the girl.’ It started to bother me that she felt she couldn’t be herself, or that being herself wouldn’t allow her to be who she wanted to be with fantasy play.”

So Ryan reached out to her neighborhood listserv for advice, and the parents decided to throw a parade to celebrate the universality of superheroes. “Kids can wear anything they want. What I’m most excited about is that it’s a concrete experience we can talk about. Other parents can do that as well – there were girls dressed as boys and maybe there will be boys in girl costumes and we can say ‘look how much fun everybody had.’ I just want to be able to continually work on how to make her more comfortable with the idea.”

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