Ellie Evangelista is 4 and she wants to be Spider-Man. But the boys at school told her she couldn’t be Spider-Man because she’s a girl. And she believed them – until the grownups in her neighbourhood stepped in and organised the cutest gender-free superheroes parade for all the local children.
“Ellie started coming home and talking about not wanting to be a girl any more because some boys at school were telling her she couldn’t be Spider-Man because she was a girl,” Ellie’s mum, Margaret Ryan, says.
So Ellie started to pretend she was a boy at school, then revert back to being a girl at home in the evening. Margaret wasn’t sure how to deal with Ellie’s frustration. “My real struggle was to figure out how to talk to her about it, and tell her it was all right to like whatever she wanted and play with whatever toys she wanted so,” she says.
In the end, Margaret asked other local parents for advice.
“So many parents responded to it. Whether they had little girls going through the same thing or had heard their own little boys saying similar things to girls,” she says.
And then the local community got together and put on the Uptown Superheroes March where girls and boys could dress up as any superhero they wanted: no gender stereotyping allowed. And The Daily Beast reported the march in Washington Heights, New York was “more diverse than the Justice League”.
A dad of a 6-year-old girl named Lola, who marched dressed as Superman, sums up the spirit of the day, saying: “Whatever you want to be, you should be able to be. I think that’s the world we’re trying to get to and I hope that’s the world my daughter lives in at this moment.”
“I hope that Eliie remembers this experience, and feels more comfortable with being who she is,” says Ellie’s mum.