And the No-prize goes to...

Marvel itself! Yes, that's right, Marvel Comics, you get to win one of your very own fabulous NO-PRIZES!

But what did they do to earn such a fabulous no-prize? Here it is. Go read it. I'll wait.

/crosses arms, surveys room, watches cars go by/

Back now? Good. Settle in, boys & girls, it's gonna be a bumpy ride.

"Marvel wants to help you look stylish!"*

That's the promise. And the pictures seem to suggest it too: Look, there are costumes for adults and kids, for, let's see, all kinds of heroes! I mean, see, there are costumes for Captain America - that's good for you white** boys/men - and, um, Hulk, he's green, y'see, so of course that's perfect for a white boy or man, too, and then there's Iron Man, he's ideal for a white boy or man to play, and we've also got Ghost Rider, which is...well, it's perfect for a white boy or man.

Now I know you're thinking, "But, but, I have this friend? And, she's, like, a she, with ladybits and chestbumps and everything - although they don't look much like the chestbumps on most of the women superheroes, I hope that won't be a problem! And (this is the weird part) she actually likes comic books! So, I'm sure you've got some great costumes for her, right?"

Absolutely, Billy! Why come right on over here, to where we have the things for girls and women. Here, I'll quote it, it's too deliciously pro-women to leave hidden:
For the young ladies out there, Marvel has partnered with Lotta Luv to create some awesome lip glosses and lip balms. They're available at over 500 Claire's stores nationwide, in a variety of flavors like cotton candy, cherry, vanilla and bubble gum. Inspired by 1950s pop art, the eye-catching packaging has romantic comic imagery and high contrasting colors. These lip balms and glosses are targeted for females eight and older, and while it's aimed at younger girls, let's face it, you can never be too old to wear such fun make-up.

Douglas Miller, Licensing Coordinator for Lotta Luv, says: "Unlike the majority of lip glosses or balms, these pop out on the shelf with bright color and fun graphics. The artwork from Marvel archives instantly draws the customer to the product as opposed to a generic non branded item. The juicy flavors and unique components on the square lip balms are also out of the ordinary."
"With a branded line of make-up from Marvel, girls will be able to feel as if they are going from ordinary to extraordinary just like the super hero characters in the stories, " he explained. "There is also such a nostalgic undertone that either young or older girls are drawn towards because of the long history and brand behind the name Marvel."

The lip glosses come in an assortment of yummy flavors and give the lips a shiny tint; just the right amount of color for summer. For less sheen, the lip balms are a great way to keep your lips perfectly pouty.
So...what kind of awesome powers do the girls get to portray? How do they get to enjoy their favourite Marvel heroes?

With LIP MAKEUP, of course! And not just any lip gloss, but with bright colours and fun graphics (TOTALLY unlike all the other lip balms on the market, you're right there, Mr. Miller, glad to see you've done your research so carefully). Archived Marvel artwork - we don't even get new art - will draw us in, unlike generic (boo!) lip balm.

Gosh, I can feel the excitement in my ladybits already: "girls will be able to feel as if they are going from ordinary to extraordinary just like the super hero characters in the stories"! I'm getting all verklempt.

And notice, it's not like we only get one product. Oh, no, not just lip gloss for us! No, we also get lip balm, so we can keep our lips "perfectly pouty" (did I mention this is explicitly marketed to girls 8 and up?).


Okay, now it's time to get to the serious snark. That was just the warmup.

There is a very good reason there are no costumes mentioned here for girls. Can anyone guess what it is? It starts with an I...regular series here on Shakesville...that's right, it's Impossibly Beautiful for the loss!

See, with the costumes of men superheroes, we see muscle pads, inflatable bodies, and (this is crucial) covered bodies. Had a look at any of the costumes on any women capes lately? How do you make costumes drawn to make the heroes look like silicon-stuffed strippers fit actual women? Well, of course, you don't, because (back to the male gaze here), who'd want to look at some fat woman in a costume meant for a stripper, am I right?

Not to mention, what kind of seriously advanced structural engineering would you need to make a real woman look anything like the titanic-breasted figures put forward as "women" in Marvel's books?

Not to mention, what kind of sick fucking company would make their hypersexualized women's costumes available for girls?

Look, it's not news that comic companies can be a massive failboat of failing failure when it comes to, oh, getting their heads out of their asses - er, I mean, out of the Dark Ages when it comes to recognizing that there are women who like comics too. No woman who likes comics would find this surprising.

But this article/advertisement (sent out, btw, as the HEADLINE article on this week's Marvel Pulse e-mail newsletter) really makes clear how little time Marvel has for their women readers/fans. They couldn't include ads for costumes for us: it's next-to-impossible for any real woman*** to fit in any reasonable way at all into the costumes their artists put women heroes into.

So the boys get to have their fantasy dressup fun, and girls get shafted again. Good thing girls don't read comics, huh, am I right?

Thanks, Marvel, for illustrating that it may be 2009 out here, but on Fifth Avenue it's still somewhere in the early 60s, before that icky women's lib stuff started up. "They still call it that out there, don't they, women's lib?" asked Marvel's managing editor, in the interview I conducted with him in my head (I figured if that's good enough research for Marvel, it's good enough for me).

This was a failboat of Galactus-like proportions, Marvel. Better rally the heroes round and see if you can unfail your failness.

Good luck with that.

* Yes, I did see that the article and the pictures were both taken by women. Sadly, "I've got ladybits" is not a recognized defence against being misogynist.

** I'm not going to touch the also-evident racism here, but OMG is there also-evident racism here. Whitewashing ftl! I'm surprised they didn't have a white guy dressed in blackface as Luke Cage or the Black Panther...

*** By "real" women, I do not, in any way, mean "not trans" women - I mean "real" as in "might be reasonably found to exist on this planet".

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