Guest Post: It’s Either Princess, Trainee Stripper, or ‘Boy’ Clothing for Little Girls

AJ Roberts is a fellow dad who’s frustrated about the limited options retailers offer for his soon to be born daughter. Unlike me, he’s also been a father for over two decades and has no interest in geek culture. This is a nice reminder (for me at least) that seeking greater retail choices for our girls isn’t all about superhero capes and lightsabers.

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I’m about to start my second go at a family 21 years after I first did it and later this year my partner and I will have a daughter. When my first daughter was born 17 years ago I was practically a child myself and missed so much of it due to trying to build a career.

Back then I let my (now ex-) wife do all the girly mum and daughter stuff and while she was never a full blown princess fantasist, our daughter still fell into lots of stereotypes over how she was dressed, the toys she had, and the activities she did. Thankfully, genetics kicked in and she railed against being forced to go to ballet and being given pink stuff for her birthday whilst her brother got to play drums and got robots for his. Mercifully, other than the One Direction fixation and a brief flirtation with wanting to be a hairdresser, she has become pretty badass and a strong modern young woman.

Anyway, like so many people in my situation I have vowed not to miss out on so much this time round. I didn’t want to hand over all the pre-birth goodie buying to my partner or let her mother dictate anything. I wanted to be involved in buying clothes and early toys and decorating and all those things new parents do. And when my partner returns to work I will be gleefully taking on the role of a stay at home dad (well, at least part time anyway).

Welcome to the pink aisle

Holy crap, is it possible to buy anything for a baby daughter that isn’t pink and frilly? It turns out that I can only find solace in the section of the shop that they send people to that don’t know the gender of their child yet, so that they can buy white stuff for their infant until they have the chance to return to the retail apartheid regime and buy either blue or pink items after the poor kid is born. I then glance around the rest of the shop… it gets worse.

Apparently the clothes my daughter can look forward to wearing in the first 6 years of her life will be limited to either princess or trainee stripper wear. Our only alternative seems to be giving up and going to the boys section, which would seem to defeat the whole point of being pissed off with the current status quo. I bought a pair of black baby leggings the other day with little cow skulls on them (the sort of skulls you’d see on a Lynyrd Skynyrd T-shirt) and was seriously affronted, although not surprised, when asked if they were for my son or was I buying them as a gift.

Girls love pink

I’ve questioned this to a number of people and I keep getting told “that’s what little girls like”. But how on earth can “little girls” give an opinion when their only choices are nylon Frozen dresses and pink Barbie cars?

Now, I’m not a “geek” – in either the original sense of the term, nor it’s more self-deprecating modern version. While I do love Star Wars, I do so because it is an awesome western set in space rather than a sci-fi film. I have little interest in comics other than old copies of the Beano, I haven’t had a favourite superhero since I was ten (a tie between Hulk and Superman). I have absolutely zero interest in Dr Who, and find no humour in The Big Bang Theory. So this is not a case of me looking to justify dressing his daughter up as Batman, but a dad that is wanting their daughter to have more options than being a princess.

Of course I want her to have things in common with me and would love her to be into art, music, literature or (dare I dream…) cricket. But I want her to at least be given that choice.

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Please follow AJ on Twitter (@ajrobertswriter), and Facebook. His first novel, 42 Days is out soon.

Wonder Woman’s Movie Outfit – Latest Images

While a gloomy image of Gal Gadot in her actual movie costume was posted last year, the colours were so muted it was difficult to have an idea of what it might actually look like in the movie Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (although this being Zack Snyder, that might be exactly how it looks!).

Some images of promo/production artwork have been surfacing in recent weeks (thanks to Latino Review’s “El Mayimbe,” aka Umberto Gonzalez), that give us an idea how the outfit might look if not almost totally desaturated of colour and presented in sepia.

What do you think?


 

 

 

 

I’m still worried this Wonder Woman outfit could come across like a ‘sexy’ Halloween costume instead of a super-warrior’s garb.
 
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Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice (where Gal Gadot makes her debut as Wonder Woman) will be released in 2016.

‘Black Angel’, the Film That WASN’T The Empire Strikes Back

This short film – which has just been uploaded to You Tube – represents one of the most traumatic experiences of my childhood (up there with the time I was run over by a lorry).

Picture this. It’s 1980. You’re 9 years old. You’ve been Star Wars obsessed since 1977 when the original film came out. They’ve made a sequel after a long wait (3 years was an eternity at that age), and you are delirious with excitement. Your older brother takes you to to the cinema to see it. After the endless trailers and Pearl & Dean adverts, the lights finally dim, the curtains open, and at last the film begins. Only… hang on, this isn’t the Empire Strikes Back. What the hell is this? Black Angel?!

I turn to my brother and say something akin to “wtf?”, he answers: “Oh no. We’re in the wrong cinema.”

Me: “Then let’s go to the right cinema! The one showing The Empire Strikes Back!”

Him: “We can’t, it’s already started. We’ve missed the beginning.”

Me: “I don’t care. I want to see it!”

Him: “Don’t worry, we’ll go an see it another day. Let’s watch this instead.”

I’m sure this back-and-forth continued, but as it did I started crying, and I continued crying. A lot. Instead of The Empire Strikes Back, I was watching whatever the hell this dark, low budget, ponderous, weird British medieval drama was.

I sat there and watched it all, sobbing away at how unfair this all was, lamenting that next door there was a cinema full of people watching The Empire Strikes Back – THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK! – while I wasn’t.

After Black Angel ended, we didn’t leave the cinema. My brother said let’s wait. So we did. AND THEN, the lights went down again, the curtain opened, and… well, it may have been a dark time for the rebellion, but it was a moment of utter joy for me.

So Black Angel was simply a film (which in memory was a whole feature, but I now discover was only 25 mins) shown before the main feature, something they used to think was a good idea. It was was only shown with The Empire Strikes Back in the UK, and perhaps Australia and New Zealand.

It may have been only 25 mins, but my brother let me cry all the way through Black Angel just to fuck with me.

And I’ve never forgotten it…

(Thanks for taking me though.)

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When You Grow Up, I Want You To Be a Voter

6997132774_8fa975c208_oThis morning I walked my daughter to her nursery as I normally do on Thursdays, but we took a bit of a diversion. In fact we walked in the opposite direction. I wanted her to come with me as I voted.

She’s 3, and she usually picks up far more than I imagine she can, so I tend to talk to her about everything. I explained why we vote, talked through the process of voting as I did it, from picking up my ballot paper, marking it, and posting them (district and borough councils too) in to the appropriate boxes.

‘When You Grow Up, I Want You To Be a Voter’

You see, there are many things I want my daughter to be when she grows up – happy, confident, strong, passionate, free. But this morning, more than ever, I also want her to be a voter.

I despair when I read of people who can’t be bothered to vote. If you don’t vote and feel that politicians don’t care about you and your needs, you’re the reason why. Elected politicians are self interested in this way. They have to be. Their existence as MPs or councillors depends on getting more votes than the competition. If you don’t vote, why should they be interested in your needs? They don’t need to woo you  to vote for them. Far better to focus on the wishes of those who do, such as pensioners, and racists.

Here are some common reasons not to vote, and why they are no good reason at all:

What I believe isn’t represented:

Then spoil your ballot paper. In fact this goes for all the points below. Seriously, that means something. It demonstrates that you are someone who will vote if engaged with. All votes are counted, recorded and announced for each constituency – and that includes all spoiled ballot papers. If the 34% of registered voters who don’t vote, all bothered to go to a polling station and spoil their papers, it would be announcing to the political class that there are 16 million people just itching to vote for someone. All they need is to be listened to.

My vote won’t make a difference:

Yes it does. Even if you’re in a safe seat, and you’re not someone who supports the incumbent party, your vote adds to the statistics. The reason why Green issues have become something mainstream parties take onboard is because of the large amount of people who have voted for the Green Party in recent elections.

Parties/Candidates are all the same:

They’re not. If you believe that, then you have not taken the short amount of time needed to differentiate them.

I’m just not interested in politics:

You’re living in complete denial. Politics effects everything you do, from what you watch on TV to how much you pay for your weekly shop. You can march, campaign, use as many hashtags as you want. Real change eventually requires politicians to legislate.

As this is a parenting blog, I’ll round up with this. If you’re a stay at home parent and want more tax breaks, parental leave equality, etc., only elected politicians can change this. If you can’t buy your first family home, only elected politicians create and control the legislation that can enable this. If you want the best education possible for your child, only elected politicians can achieve this.

Voting is about engaging with something bigger than you, being part of something that affects the lives of not just you, but your family, friends, colleagues, and all the people you don’t know yet, and those you never will. Your vote matters to them. Not voting isn’t just lazy, it’s selfish.

These politicians elected today will shape the future your child will live in. The voting patterns recorded today will shape the political conversation from tomorrow onwards. Basically, if you give a shit about your child’s future, you will vote today – whether it’s for the party/candidate of your choice, or the one who will keep out the one you don’t want, or if it’s simply to spoil the paper. Your apathy is self-centered and unacceptable.

So please, go out and vote.

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Are you someone who doesn’t vote? I’d genuinely love to know why, especially after reading this post, as I do not understand. Please comment below, on Facebook, or Twitter

Supergirl Gets CBS Series

I really hope this is a good show, and that it’s a hit so it can undermine the notion that there isn’t an audience for film & TV with female superheroes.

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Star Wars: The Force Awakens – Vanity Fair Photos

Star Wars, The Force Awakens, Vanity Fair, Star Wars The Force Awakens Vanity Fair photos,
Next-generation bad guy Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) commands snowtroopers loyal to the evil First Order on the frozen plains of their secret base. Photograph by Annie Leibovitz.
A small galaxy’s worth of tracking dots affixed to Lupita Nyong’o’s face allowed artists at Industrial Light & Magic to transform her into the C.G.I. character Maz Kanata. Photograph by Annie Leibovitz.
Galactic travelers, smugglers, and other assorted riffraff fill the main hall of pirate Maz Kanata’s castle. Photograph by Annie Leibovitz.
Dashing Resistance pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) stands alongside his trusty X-wing fighter. Photograph by Annie Leibovitz.

J. J. Abrams directs Actress Daisy Ridley for a scene in which her character, the young heroine Rey, pilots her speeder through a bustling marketplace on the planet Jakku. Photograph by Annie Leibovitz.
Members of the brain trust behind The Force Awakens: composer John Williams, producer and Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy, co-writer Lawrence Kasdan, and director and co-writer Abrams, photographed at Bad Robot, Abrams’s production company, in Santa Monica. Photograph by Annie Leibovitz.

Joss Whedon Just Quit Twitter

A) I really enjoyed Age of Ultron; b) The Black Widow was kick-ass in it; c) Joss Whedon is the best thing to happen to comic book movies.

How to Make a Star Wars Skirt for Girls and Boys

Getting Star Wars tops for girls is easy – as long as you don’t mind shopping in the ‘boys’ aisle. However, you have more chance of bullseyeing a Womp Rat in your T-16 than finding a child’s Star Wars dress or skirt for sale at a major retailer. While Ashley Eckstein’s innovative fangirl brand Her Universe has a couple of Star Wars dress options, is she your only hope? No, there is another.

It’s you – by embracing Craftivism. If you can’t find the merchandise you want, simply make it yourself. My daughter recently received an awesome Star Wars skirt from our friend Francesca Cambridge, that she made using officially licensed Star Wars fabric. There’s lots of Star Wars and other official licensed fabric available, which is intended for home sewing use such as this.

In an act of wanton selflessness (her business Sewing Circus proudly creates and sells children’s clothes that don’t conform to gender stereotypes), Francesca has put together this step-by-step guide so non-dressmakers like me can make a children’s Star Wars skirt ourselves.

Whenever my daughter wears this skirt – which is most days at the moment – everyone asks where I got it from. Follow this guide, and you’ll have a Star Wars skirt that’ll make someone as over the moon (or space station) as my daughter is with hers. 🙂

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This elasticated skirt is one of the easiest items of clothing you can make for your child. It is so simple you don’t need a pattern or special equipment – you could even get away without a sewing machine!

For this skirt I used licensed Star Wars fabric manufactured by Camelot Fabrics, bought from Frumble (who also sell everything from Alice in Wonderland to Batgirl, Supergirl and Wonder Woman fabric).

But you can choose any fabric you want, in any theme, colour or style. That is how I started out, making Dinosaur skirts and Space dresses for my daughters when we couldn’t find anything remotely similar on the high street.

Once you’ve built a bit of confidence you can add pockets, a drawstring, applique – anything! The sky’s the limit for your creativity and inspiring your child to do the same. 

To make a Star Wars skirt for kids, you will need:

  • A waist measurement and preferred length of skirt from your chosen recipient
  • Approx 50 x 110cm of your chosen Star Wars fabric (you may not need as much but fabrics are often sold by the quarter/half/full metre and 110cm in width) Cost approx £7-9
  • 1″ wide elastic measured and cut to your chosen waist size
  • Standard ruler and a pen/chalk
  • Sewing machine if possible or a needle and thread
  • Thread colour to match your chosen fabric
  • Safety pin
  • Iron/Ironing board
  • About 30 mins of spare time!

Step 1 

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Cut your elastic and ensure there is ample flex room on the width of your fabric. For ages 12 plus you may need to add an additional panel to create a wider piece of fabric.

Step 2 – Measure and cut length

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The skirt length is 28cm, but we need to add on a little more to accommodate our waistband and hem, so I’ve added an extra 8cm to the length. If in doubt add more, not less – you can always trim more later. Use a ruler to guide you in cutting, never trust the pattern!

Step 3 – Cut length and trim selvage 

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This white part (that reminds me of bacon rind) is the selvage and needs to come off too. Check for an perforated dots from manufacture as you don’t want them in your final skirt.

Step 4 – Sew the side seam

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All raw edges must be “serged” or enclosed to prevent fraying, so for this skirt we’re going to use an enclosed seam. This means we sew wrong sides together (or right sides outwards as shown), trimming the seam slightly and then turn inside out to sew the seam again on the other side – trapping the raw edge inside. Like this…

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Your side seam should now look like this…

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Step 5 – Transfer to the ironing board for pressing

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Create a channel for the elastic at the top of the skirt by folding over a thin raw edge, and then larger fold to fit the width of your elastic. You can use your elastic to guide the size, but leave at least 5mm for a sewing edge. Once this is done you can measure the length again and fold up the hem using the same method at the other end. Again, use the ruler to measure as you will now create the final length of your skirt.

Step 6 – Hem

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Sew down your pressed hem, back stitching or tieing up the ends of your thread to prevent your work coming undone.

Step 7 – Elastic waistband

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Use your elastic to guide you as its essential there is enough room for it to fit through comfortably. If you find the channel is too narrow take it back to the iron board and press larger.
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Sew the channel closed, but leave a 1.5″ gap at the end. This will be the opening to thread through the elastic.

Step 8 – Add the elastic

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Attach a safety pin to the end of your elastic
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Thread the elastic by pushing the saftey pin through the channel. Secure the other end of the elastic as its really easy to end up loosing it as your pull through!
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Once you have pulled the elastic through, use a zig zag stitch to connect the two ends together with a good 1″ overlap. Don’t worry about the waist measurement just yet – you can always adjust in the next step.
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Ping the elastic into the skirt band, and check you’re happy with the waist measurement. If not, pull the elastic back out a little way to cut a section out and restitch together.

Step 9 – Close the waistband

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Once you’re happy, close the waistband “channel” and tie up the threads to finish.

Step 10 – Admire the awesome Star Wars skirt you have just created

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And that’s it! Your very own children’s Star Wars skirt
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My daughter wearing her beloved Star Wars skirt. She would wear it every day if she could.

This is a little bit of Craftivism shared from what I have learnt since starting Sewing Circus, but for more inspiration please check out the many wonderful sewing boards on Pinterest for free patterns and advice! Got stuck on a sewing element? Check out the free tutorials on YouTube – even after years of sewing I find it a fantastic resource with clear instructions on almost everything.

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Thanks so much to Francesca for sharing with us her Craftivist solution to the lack of Star Wars clothes aimed at girls.

To keep up with all the latest from Sewing Circus, please follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Etsy.

A version of this tutorial was originally published on Let Clothes Be Clothes.

RECIPE: Gingerbread Death Stars

This is a delicious and simple gingerbread recipe, with added technological terror.

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“That’s no moon.”

Makes: 16+ Death Stars

Ingredients
350g (12 oz) plain flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
3 heaped tsp ground ginger
1 heaped tsp all spice
115g (4 oz) butter, cubed
175g (6 oz) soft light brown sugar
4 tablespoons golden syrup
1 egg, beaten

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 190 C.
  2. Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda, ginger, and spice into a bowl.
  3. Rub in the butter with your fingertips until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs; stir in sugar. Beat syrup into egg then stir into flour mixture.Knead the dough until smooth (or user mixer).
  4. Roll out into a cylinder about 30cm long, wrap in clingfilm, and place in freezer for about 20-25mins. This will make the dough more solid work work with.
  5. Divide dough into 3 equal parts, and roll out each one between clingfilm (will prevent it sticking to pin) to about 1cm thick.
  6. Place on a lightly floured surface to cut shapes. I used a 7.5cm circular cookie cutter.
  7. Decorate as per photo. Use the end of a teaspoon or similar to create the curved equator, and the find an appropriate sized circle shape to create the dish. Use spoon handle again to create the ‘spokes’ of the dish, and then gently smooth out the centre of the dish with your little finger. When making impressions, make sure they’re deep but not to cut through the entire cookie.
  8. Bake on lined trays in the preheated oven until golden and puffed, about 10-12 minutes. Let them sit on the tray for a few minutes before moving to a wire rack.

Vintage Star Wars Recipe: Death Star Cookies

This recipe is taken from the Star Wars: Darth Vader’s Activity Book, originally published in 1979 by Random House (I have the UK Armada reprint).

Death Star cookiess, Star Wars, Darth Vader Activity book

Death Star Cookies

Yield: 2 Large Death Stars

There’s nothing evil about these delicious shortbread cookies. They’re quick and easy to make, especially if you have an adult to help.

You’ll need:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) of butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease 2 cookie sheets. In a large bowl cream the butter and sugar. Beat in Egg well. Gradually stir in flour. Gather into a ball. Divide into two equal halves. Roll each half into a ball.

Place one ball in the centre of one cookie sheet and flatten out to a circle about 6″ in diameter and about 1/2″ thick as shown in the accompanying figure. Repeat with remaining dough on second cookie sheet.

For decorating, follow the steps below.

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1. With your thumb, press in a smooth round, shallow hole 1 1/2″ in diameter a little away from the edge as shown.
Death Star cookies, Star Wars cookies, Star Wars recipe, Star Wars cooking
2. Lightly grease a butter knife and make a wide, shallow cut across the centre of the cookie. Then make shallow horizontal cuts along the rest of the cookie. Do not cut through the hole.
Death Star cookies, Star Wars cookies, Star Wars recipe, Star Wars cooking
3. The make shallow horizontal vertical cuts between the horizontal lines as shown.
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Next cut a shallow outline around the 1 1/2 ” hole and make “piecuts” in it as shown. Take a fork and make rows of holes along the horizontal lines.

Then bake 25 minutes, or until golden brown around the edges. Cool slightly. Remove and cool completely.

Now be a hero and destroy the Death Star – by eating it!