Australian mom Rebecca Millar is proving that girls can be like superheroes too by transforming regular dolls into heroines. (Photo: Twitter/Rebecca Millar)
What do you do when your daughter wants a Black Widow doll but there aren’t any to buy? You make her one — at least that’s what one mom did for her 3-year-old daughter. Now, she’s hoping to show the world that girls can like Marvel, too.
When Rebecca Millar’s superhero-obsessed daughter, Abigail, asked for a Black Widow doll to go with her other Avengers action figures, the single mom from Melbourne, Australia, didn’t have a lot of options. “I couldn’t afford to spend $80+ on having one shipped here [Australia]. There were none in stores, so it was the only way I could give my daughter the Black Widow she wanted,” Rebecca wrote on her Facebook page, Geek Grrls Dolls on July 13.
But while she was out buying a Thor action figure for Abigail, she got an idea. “When I walked past a red haired Sparkle doll, I wondered if I could turn her into a Black Widow,” Rebecca tells Yahoo Parenting. “I’m awful at sewing doll clothes, so I Googled if I could paint her. Google said yes, so I got the doll, came home, and gave her a makeover.”
“My daughter wanted Black Widow. There are none. Made one,” Rebecca Millar wrote on Twitter. The tweet got more than 2,000 retweets and 2,750 favorites. (Photo: Twitter/Rebecca Millar)
Rebecca used black acrylic paint for the Black Widow’s costume, cut the doll’s hair, and applied darker makeup. She posted the before-and-after photos of her creation on Twitter, where they were quickly retweeted more than 2,000 times and favorited more than 2,750 times. She even had several requests to buy a doll from other superhero-loving women and girls.
Abigail’s new Black Widow doll with other Avengers heroes dolls — and Spider-Man, one of Abigail’s favorites. (Photo: Twitter/Rebecca Millar)
But Rebecca is just doing what she hopes any other parent would do. “Our job as parents is not to condemn our children, or to treat them simply like they are an extension of our own personalities. They are their own people, and they deserve to be treated with respect,” she writes on her blog. “Accept the child you have and love them for their uniqueness. Stop trying to turn them into the child you think you want. Embrace their awesomeness.”
Rebecca transformed this doll into NCIS’s forensic scientist Abby Sciuto. “This is what happens to a Monster High doll in my house. Because we celebrate strong, female characters,” she tweeted. (Photo: Twitter/Rebecca Millar)
Since making the Black Widow doll, Rebecca has given makeovers to about 30 other dolls, too. But she hasn’t just made female superheroes. She’s also worked on a few villains, Star Trek characters, and other strong female characters. Rebecca hopes her dolls can provide a positive message to her daughter and other children. “I simply want [my daughter] to be empowered enough to proudly like the things she likes, even if it’s not the same as what a lot of her female peers like,” she told Today. “I want her to know that girls can like Marvel and superheroes, just the same as boys can like Frozen and princesses and that both are totally fine.“
Rebecca Millar makes superhero dolls for her young daughter. (Photo: Facebook/RebeccaMillarWriter)
Her message has definitely been heard. One young girl’s comment was had special impact for Rebecca — she said her parents told her she would “turn into a boy” if she liked superheroes. But seeing that Rebecca supports Abigail’s love of superheroes has inspired her to do the same when she’s a parent. “It just broke my heart,” Rebecca wrote on her blog. “This girl is so young, and at such an impressionable age and here she is being told she should conform to outdated and ridiculous gender stereotypes.” The girl later messaged Rebecca to say she’ll continue to love Marvel despite her parents’ disapproval.
Abigail’s orignal creation, Arella. (Photo: Facebook/Geek Grrls Dolls)
Abigail has also helped Rebecca design original creations, including a doll named Arella, who is “a bit fancy,” according to Abigail. Her mom says she mixed the colors for the body and painted the body and face by herself. “It’s so awesome seeing her imagination take shape on this doll, and she’s so excited to be ‘painting like mum.’ Her mum is a bit proud of her efforts too,” Rebecca wrote on Facebook.
Rebecca is even helping other parents make their own dolls. She posted several tutorials on her blog in the hopes of inspiring creativity, empowerment, and imagination.
Rebecca’s 3-year-old daughter, Abigail, dressed as Spider-Man, one of her favorite superheroes. (Photo: Facebook/Geek Grrls Dolls)
But Rebecca and Abigail aren’t the first to discourage gender stereotypes in the toy aisle. In July, a U.K. father handmade his 6-year-old daughter a Ms. Marvel costume after he couldn’t find one in stores, and a 4-year-old girl inspired a parade in a New York City neighborhood in June after classmates told her she couldn’t like Spider-Man and still be a girl. In April, Avengers star Mark Ruffalo even joined the fight for more superhero toys for girls. “@Marvel we need more #BlackWidow merchandise for my daughters and nieces. Pretty please,” he tweeted.
Joan Hilty, a former DC Comics editor and comics consultant for a number of publishers, told Yahoo Parenting in July that it’s time for change. “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 comics, they’re going to have to start making them merchandise, too.