Cape fears

Why do little boys want to play superheroes? “Cars,” Lightning McQueen, Thomas, Percy, I actually got that, even though I’m a girl. “I want a train with a happy face! I want a car with a happy face!”

But those bad guys and superheroes take over their little unprepared psyches sometime before they turn 4: Mommy, I want a green man in a bodystocking with a suggestive bulge! I want a guy who gives me nightmares and can start fires, even though you couldn’t get me to leave the condo without shutting my bedroom door (to protect my toys from any looming combustion) just three months ago!

And once they get to 38 pounds or so, the boys can no longer fit into the regular, fun stretchy caped costumes that made them look like adorable little Dark Knights or baby Men of Steel. By preschool age, the costume manufacturers have determined they need to have artificial rippled muscles and a superhero six-pack. Suddenly, our kids are mini-Arnolds wearing masks.

Imagine the uproar if girls could only buy Snow White and Cinderella gowns with chest padding, thongs and plunging necklines. But no one’s objecting to little boys being subtly indoctrinated into the culture of bodybuilding and ‘roids.


–Jillian O’Connor