Mike Long created this Ms. Marvel costume for his 6-year-old daughter after he couldn’t find an appropriate one online. (Photo: Captain Milkshake/Tumblr)
A father who wanted to dress his daughter as Ms. Marvel for a superhero costume party this week couldn’t find any suitable options online, so he took matters into his own hands — by making one himself.
In a blog post titled “Open Letter to Those Guys Who Work At and For Marvel Comics,” UK dad Mike Long explains that he and his daughter read Marvel Comics every night at bedtime, so the young girl was thrilled to be invited to a superhero-themed birthday party.
“I thought it to be perfectly fitting that she goes as the one and only Ms. Marvel,” Long wrote. After searching a local store with no luck, Long turned to Amazon thinking he’d have no trouble tracking down the perfect getup. But after searching “Ms. Marvel girl outfits,” Long said the results were discouraging. “It started off OK, the first search result being a Spider Girl outfit, closely followed by Captain America girl’s outfit, but that’s where the options stop for 6-year-olds,” he writes. “Second page of results give a Spider Girl outfit again, but this time in pink (really?) and page three, Sexy Batgirl and Sexy Red Riding Hood, which I don’t need to go into detail over.”
So instead of buying a costume, Long made one, using a blue dress, yellow fabric from a pillow, a sparkly mask, red polyester, and his sewing skills. The result was fabulous. “When it finally came together, my little one fell in love with it,” he wrote.
But still, Long appealed to Marvel Comics to consider its young female fans. “I write this not as a rant but as a plea to make merch more girl inclusive,” he said. “Ms. Marvel is an incredible concept [that] empowers a multi-cultural demographic and to be honest, this needs to be pushed harder!!!”
Long did not immediately respond to Yahoo Parenting’s request for comment.
The open letter, which the dad posted on his Tumblr, has been liked or reblogged nearly 3,000 times, including by G. Willow Wilson, the author of the monthly Ms. Marvel comic. Wilson also added an addendum to the post, writing “Now this is one dedicated super-dad.”
Neither Wilson nor officials for Marvel Comics responded to Yahoo Parenting’s requests for comment.
Long’s request is just the latest in a number of calls for companies to acknowledge the legions of girls who love superheroes. Last month, a 4-year-old who was told by classmates that she couldn’t be Spider-Man because she was a girl inspired a parade in New York City. During that “Uptown Superheroes March,” kids were encouraged to wear whatever costume they wanted as they paraded through the streets with their parents.
Also in June, an 8-year-old girl in the UK wrote to the Disney Store to express her disappointment that all the Star Wars costumes on the website were categorized as “boy’s outfits.” As a result, Disney UK banished gender labels on its costumes, categorizing them only as intended for “kids.”
Joan Hilty, a former DC comics editor and comics consultant for a number of publishers, says it’s high time for change. “Comics companies — and the media companies that increasingly own them — have been treating publishing and merchandising as separate considerations for a long time. But as they work to expand their fanbase to that other 50 percent of the population, that’s going to have to change,” she tells Yahoo Parenting. “In this age, with comics driving all forms of social and entertainment media more than ever, committing creatively to an expanded worldview in storytelling means you’ve got to commit creatively to the products that back it up.”
In other words, if comic companies want girls to watch superhero movies and read the books, they’re going to have to start making them costumes — appropriate ones — too. “They’re going to have to put their money where their mouths are, which, if they do it right, means money — and lasting good will with adult and kid consumers — right back at them,” Hilty says.
Mike Long is hoping his appeal to Marvel will start to inspire change. “Should the merch for all Marvel toys be so male-centric?” he asked in his post. “It may be a shame that this is the truth, but I believe this post could be the start of something good, if even it gets the wheels turning a few degrees.”