Power Girl, also known as Kara Zor-L and Karen Starr, is a DC Comicssuperheroine, making her first appearance in All Star Comics #58 (January/February ). Power Girl is the cousin of DC's flagship hero Superman, but from an alternative universe in the fictional multiverse in which DC Comics stories are set. Originally hailing from the world of Earth-Two, first envisioned as the home of DC's wartime heroes as published in s comic books, Power Girl becomes stranded in the main universe where DC stories are set, and becomes acquainted with that world's Superman and her own counterpart, Supergirl.
In common with Supergirl's origin story, she is the daughter of Superman's aunt and uncle and a native of the planet Krypton. The infant Power Girl's parents enabled her to escape the destruction of her home planet by placing her in a rocket ship. Although she left the planet at the same time that Superman did, her ship took much longer to reach Earth-Two. On Earth, as with other Kryptonians, Power Girl discovered she possessed abilities like super strength, flight, and heat vision, using which she became a protector of innocents and a hero for humanity. Though the specifics of how vary over subsequent retellings, Power Girl is later stranded on another Earth when a cosmic crisis affects her home of Earth-Two, and later carves out a separate identity for herself from her dimensional counterpart Supergirl once they are forced to coexist.
Though they are biologically the same person, Power Girl behaves as an older, more mature, and more level-headed version of Supergirl, with a more aggressive fighting style. She also adopts a different secret identity from her counterpart. These changes are reflected in their differing costumes and superhero names as well; Power Girl sports a bob of blond hair; wears a distinctive white, red, and blue costume with a cleavage-displaying cutout. The name Power Girl reflects that she chooses not to be seen as a derivative of Superman, but rather her own hero and this choice is reflected in the strong independent attitude of the character. Over various decades, Power Girl has been depicted as a member of superhero teams such as the Justice Society of America, Infinity, Inc., Justice League Europe, and the Birds of Prey.
Power Girl's origin has gone through revisions, but over time has reverted to her original conception as the Supergirl of Earth-Two. The limited seriesCrisis on Infinite Earths eliminated Earth-Two from history, causing her to be retconned as the granddaughter of an Atlanteansorcerer known as Arion. This was an unpopular change and writers depicted the revised Power Girl inconsistently. The – Infinite Crisis limited series then restored her status as a refugee from the Krypton of the destroyed Pre-Crisis Earth-Two universe. Following DC's "Flashpoint" storyline and New 52 reboot, Power Girl's origin was retold as the Supergirl of "Earth 2", cousin and adopted daughter of Superman, who during evil Fourth WorldNew GodDarkseid's invasion of Earth 2 becomes stranded in the main continuity of Earth 0, subsequently adopting the name Power Girl to hide her true identity. She returned to her source Earth in the story Earth 2: World's End (–).
Power Girl was introduced in All Star Comics #58 in , and was a member of the superhero team the Justice Society of America through the remainder of the s and s period known as the Bronze Age of Comics. Marvel Comics' then-publisher Stan Lee said in that when DC Comics created Power Girl after Marvel had introduced Power Man, "I'm pretty annoyed about that. I've got to ask the Marvel lawyer – she's supposed to be starting a lawsuit about that and I haven't heard anything. I don't like the idea. You know, years ago we brought out Wonder Man, and [DC Comics] sued us because they had Wonder Woman, and I said okay, I'll discontinue Wonder Man. And all of a sudden they've got Power Girl. Oh, boy. How unfair." Ironically, Marvel had previously published Thor #, written by Power Girl co-creator Gerry Conway, in which Len Wein's character says, "Whoever heard of Powergirl, anyhow?"
After All Star Comics was canceled as a part of the DC Implosion, the character would continue to appear along with the rest of the JSA in Adventure Comics for a six-issue run. Due in part to her being one of the more popular characters in All Star Comics at the time, she was given a solo tryout in Showcase issues 97–99, which expanded on her pre-Crisis origin. During this time, she was a regularly featured character in the annual Justice Society crossovers in the original Justice League of America series. She was a founding member of Infinity Inc., appearing in each of the first 12 issues and making later guest appearances.
After DC's continuity-altering Crisis on Infinite Earths storyline, her origin was retconned in Secret Origins vol. 2, #11 and she became a magic-based character with ties to ancient Atlantis, leading to appearances in The Warlord. The character did not receive her own self-titled series until the Power Girl miniseries of  The character became a featured member of Justice League Europe (a spin off from Justice League International) for the run of the series. After the cancellation of JLI, the character joined Chris Claremont's creator-owned series Sovereign Seven and appeared in several issues of Birds of Prey. She eventually rejoined the Justice Society in JSA #31 and became a regular part of that series and its follow-up, Justice Society of America vol. 3.
Power Girl played a significant role in the continuity-changing events of Infinite Crisis (), which tied into her starring role in the first JSA Classified story arc "Power Trip" in (issues #1–4 of the series). These stories heavily featured the revelation that Power Girl was in fact the Earth-Two Power Girl and a Kryptonian, who survived Crisis, and that her Atlantean backstory had been a lie. Starting in July , Power Girl received her first ongoing series, simply titled Power Girl (volume 2), with the first twelve issues written by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray, drawn by Amanda Conner, and colored by Paul Mounts. According to Comic Book Resources, the series has been "wildly praised for its fresh and fun approach."
When Palmiotti, Grey and Conner left the series after issue #12, Palmiotti said, "Amanda always said she could just commit to the book for a year, and as we got into the series we realized that we just couldn't do the same type of book with another artist at this point and decided it was a good idea to leave with her and give another team a shot."Judd Winick took over as writer with artist Sami Basri beginning with issue # Winick stated that the tone of the book will continue, and the premise of the character in New York.
The trade paperback "Power Girl" (ISBN) collects Showcase issues #97–99, Secret Origins volume 2 issue #11, JSA issues 32 and 39, and JSA Classified issues #1–4. "Power Girl: A New Beginning" (ISBN) collects the first six issues of the series. "Power Girl: Aliens & Apes" (ISBN) collects issues 7 through 12, and "Power Girl: Bomb Squad" (ISBN) covers 13 to 18, and "Power Girl: Old Friends" collecting issues
The entirety of the Palmiotti/Grey/Conner run is contained in "Power Girl: Power Trip" (ISBN) which collects JSA Classified #1–4 and Power Girl #1–
Fictional character biography
Journey from Krypton-Two
Kara's father discovers that Krypton is about to explode, and places her in a spacecraft directed towards the Earth. Although this occurs at the same time that Kal-L's ship is launched, Kara's ship travels more slowly, and she arrives on Earth decades after her cousin has landed. Kara’s Symbioship is designed to keep her in stasis during the journey and provide her with life experiences and education in the form of virtual reality. The Symbioship allows her to interact with virtual copies of her parents and fellow Kryptonians. Originally, by the time she arrives on Earth, Kara is shown to be in her early twenties. However, as mentioned in JSA Classified #1, her age at arrival has now been retconned to about eighteen in post-Crisis continuity.
In Showcase #97, Kara is reclaimed by the sentient Symbioship and reimmersed into Kandorian society for a time. Several years of virtual time elapse, in which Kara is married and has a child. She is freed with the assistance of newspaper reporter Andrew Vinson, at which point she disables the ship.
Power Girl's existence is not revealed to the general public until much later; her cousin Clark and his wife Lois Lane provide her a family environment to assist her transition towards real life relationships. In her first recorded adventure, Kara assists Justice Society members Flash and Wildcat with containing an artificially induced volcanic eruption in China. She then joins Robin and Star-Spangled Kid to form a Super Squad to assist the Justice Society in defeating Brainwave and Per Degaton, who were causing disasters around the world. She pushes their base towards the Sun, the heat causing the villains to fall unconscious. Later, she becomes a full member of the Society when Superman retires from active membership.
Having been raised by the Symbioship with artificial Kryptonian life experiences, Power Girl finds it difficult to adapt to life on Earth. However, with the help of reporter Andrew Vinson, she adopts the secret identity of computer programmer Karen Starr (she obtains her knowledge in this field from exposure to Wonder Woman's Purple Ray on Paradise Island). On the pre-Crisis Earth-Two, Power Girl's closest friend is the Huntress, the daughter of the Earth-Two Batman and Catwoman.
The first contact between Power Girl and Earth-One's universe was on the crossoverJustice League of America #, written by Paul Levitz & Martin Pasko, where the character shows her attraction to that reality saying, "It has a much nicer brand of Superman, y'know?".
The Crisis on Infinite Earths limited series erased the existence of the Earth-Two Superman, and Power Girl's continuity was thus substantially disrupted. Initially she believed herself to be Superman's cousin, as she had been before the reboot. However, her background was retconned; she was told that she was the descendant of the Atlantean sorcerer Arion, and was frozen in suspended animation for millennia until the present day.
After the Justice Society disbands, Power Girl would join the Justice League. Later, while a member of Justice League Europe, she suffers a near fatal injury while battling a mystical being. Superman must assist in her medical treatment, using his heat-vision to perform surgery on her otherwise-invulnerable tissues. Although she recovers, Power Girl is significantly weaker, as she lost her vision powers and could not fly for a time. However, she regained them all as time went on. Power Girl adopts a one-eyed mangy cat, an animal which would affect much of the team. One aspect of this is her beloved cat is used to spy on the group by intelligence gathering criminals.
During the Zero Hour event, Power Girl experiences a mystical pregnancy and gives birth to a son (supposedly named Equinox), who ages rapidly. Finally he disappears, and has never been mentioned again in DCU.
Power Girl appeared in later issues of the Sovereign Seven series, Chris Claremont's creator-owned comic book for DC. However, the final issue revealed that the entire series had been a story appearing in a comic book, and events in the book have had no bearing upon DC continuity.
Power Girl was one of Oracle’s first agents. Their short-lived partnership ended after a disastrous mission which resulted in a large loss of life. Power Girl believes that Oracle's poor leadership was responsible for the tragedy, being disgusted that Oracle would sacrifice hundreds of lives & herself following orders. Although she has worked with her again on a few occasions when needed, the relationship between the two is tense. In Birds of Prey #35, Power Girl admitted that she is primarily to blame for the tension, but is unable to overcome the memories of the deaths.
Power Girl is a key member of the Justice Society, which she joined when it was reformed in the late s. During an adventure with the JSA, she meets Arion, who reveals her Atlantean heritage to be a lie he concocted at the behest of Power Girl's "mother".
While attempting to save her teammate Ted Grant from the new female Crimson Avenger, Power Girl is severely wounded by supernatural bullets fired from the vigilante's cursed handguns. Despite being saved by Doctor Mid-Nite, Power Girl comments that her near-death experience has shown her that she needs to make more personal connections outside of the superhero community.
Main article: Infinite Crisis
JSA Classified: Power Trip
The Psycho-Pirate shows Kara multiple versions of her origin in an effort to drive her insane. Eventually, he reveals the truth: Power Girl is a survivor of Krypton from the dimension which contained the pre-CrisisEarth-Two.
The other survivors
In the "Infinite Crisis" storyline, Kal-L himself returns to the post-Crisis DC Universe after breaking down the walls of the paradise dimension in which he, Lois Lane Kent (of Earth-Two), Alexander Luthor, Jr. (of Earth-Three), and Superboy-Prime (of Earth-Prime) had been living since the end of Crisis on Infinite Earths. Appalled by the rapidly deteriorating state of affairs on the contemporary Earth, their goal is to replace the post-Crisis Earth with a recreated Earth-Two. Kal-L's first order of business is to track down Power Girl and explain the events of the original Crisis to her. Kal-L also reiterates her pre-Crisis history as his cousin. A touch from the ailing Lois of Earth-Two inexplicably restores Power Girl's memories of pre-Crisis Earth-Two.
Soon after this revelation, Power Girl is confronted by Superboy-Prime, who renders her unconscious. She is attached to a ”tuning fork”, a device controlled by Alex Luthor whose purpose is to bring back the multiple Earths. Alex Luthor and Psycho Pirate coerce Black Adam (who is also attached to the machine) into saying "SHAZAM!", and use the now-raw magical energy to power the tower. After the reappearance of the created Earth-Two, everyone associated with that Earth is transported onto it (although Power Girl remains on New Earth because of her proximity to the tower).
After being brought to the barren created Earth-Two by Kal-L, Lois Lane Kent collapses and dies. A violent confrontation between the two Supermen ensues, at the end of which Kal-L comes to the realization that this created Earth-Two had not been a perfect world, since "a perfect earth doesn't need a Superman."
Power Girl is freed by Wonder Girl and Kon-El, and joins them in fighting Superboy-Prime and Alex Luthor. During a savage battle on Mogo, Superboy-Prime beats Kal-L to death and is later subdued by Kal-El. Power Girl is brought to Mogo by the Green Lantern Corps just in time to bid a tearful farewell to her dying cousin.
"One Year Later"
In the "One Year Later" storyline in Supergirl, Kara takes up the mantle of Nightwing in an attempt to free the natives of Kandor. Ultraman, masquerading as Kal-El and working in concert with the Saturn Queen, has taken control of the bottle city. Kara Zor-El is the city's Flamebird; she prevents Ultraman's forces from executing the captured Power Girl. Power Girl is forced to leave Kandor with Kara (against her better judgment) after Saturn Queen reveals to Supergirl information about Supergirl's past and purpose. This causes another rift to grow between the two women, as Power Girl feels Supergirl left an entire city of people to suffer, all because of her own selfish desires. This animosity is still on display when she next encounters Supergirl.
Power Girl remains a core member of the Justice Society. Power Girl is selected as the chairwoman of the team after Mr. Terrific steps down.
Power Girl is invited to rejoin Oracle's Birds of Prey, but refuses, stating that she would do so only "when Hell freezes over". Her ill will toward Oracle is the result of a single mission in which she served as one of Oracle's agents, which ended badly. However, Power Girl does come to Oracle's aid against the Spy Smasher in Birds of Prey #
The appearance of the Earth Superman (and his resemblance to Kal-L) upsets Kara greatly when he first arrives on New Earth. However, they adopt each other as family after a period of time.
Following the events of Infinite Crisis, a new Multiverse is created. Among them is an Earth-2 from which its Power Girl and Superman are both missing. The Power Girl of this Earth returns to Earth-2 after failing to find her cousin. The Power Girl of New Earth is accidentally sent to the pre-Crisis Earth-2 by the Third World god Gog.
The Power Girl of New Earth faces off against the Power Girl and Justice Society Infinity of the new Earth-2, due to the Earth-2 Power Girl's grief and rage over the loss of her cousin prompting her to believe that the 'other' Power Girl is an impostor with some role in Superman's absence. Power Girl returns to New Earth with the help of the Earth-2 Michael Holt, until the Justice Society Infinity follow her and take her back to Earth-2, where it is revealed that the recreation of the Multiverse created a new Earth-2 and duplicates of its heroes, including its own Power Girl. The Power Girl of New Earth then returns home with the JSA.
Solo series and All-Stars
Power Girl briefly appears in the Final Crisis crossover event, battling the forces of Darkseid after he conquers the Earth using the Anti-Life Equation.
After deciding to once again use the Karen Starr identity, she moves to New York City and begins rebuilding Starr Enterprises while continuing solo superheroics. She eventually takes teenaged hero-in-training Terra as her sidekick following the horrific events depicted in the Terror Titans mini-series. After the duo fight off a robot invasion of the city, Power Girl is kidnapped by the new Ultra-Humanite, who plans to transplant his brain into her body. Using her ice breath to destroy her gravity enhanced shackles and gag, Power Girl easily defeats the villain and saves New York. She also helps a trio of lost alien princesses and their bodyguard adjust to life on Earth, buying them a home in South America to stay until they can get back to their home planet.
Following a massive battle that ends in the destruction of the Justice Society's HQ, the team decides to split up into two separate squads. Power Girl partners with Magog to start a more youth-oriented team dubbed the JSA All-Stars. Using Stargirl as leverage, the two are able to convince all of the teen JSA members except Jennifer Pierce to join the All-Stars. During the team's inaugural press conference, they are attacked by a group of mercenaries led by the villainous nephew of Sylvester Pemberton. Karen and her team emerge victorious, only to discover that Pemberton has kidnapped Stargirl during the confusion of the battle. The team eventually rescues Stargirl.
During the – "Blackest Night" storyline, both JSA teams gather in Manhattan to stave off the invading Black Lantern Corps. Several of the team members examine the corpses of Kal-L and Psycho Pirate, both of whom had been reanimated as Black Lanterns only to be killed again during a battle with Superboy and Superman. Karen breaks down in tears upon seeing the twisted corpse of Kal-L, and swears vengeance upon whoever is behind the creation of the Black Lanterns. While on her way to the streets of Manhattan to assist her teammates, Karen hears Ma Hunkel screaming. She rushes to her side, only to see Ma being attacked by the Black Lantern Lois Lane-Kent of pre-Crisis Earth-Two. Black Lantern Lois sacrifices herself by removing her ring and giving it to Kal-L to reanimate him. During the battle between Kal-L and Power Girl, Mr. Terrific invents a machine to destroy the Black Lanterns. He activates the machine and it wipes out the Black Lantern ring connection and Kal-L and completely dissolves Kal-L's corpse.
In the – storyline "Brightest Day", Power Girl attacks her comrades, and after being subdued, is discovered to have been possessed by the Starheart (the cosmic entity that gave Alan Scott and Jade their powers) to which she was vulnerable because of her Kryptonian heritage, as Kryptonians draw their abilities from the sun. Staying out of action in order avoid another possession, she helps Mr. Terrific work on a machine that may be able to dampen the Starheart's power. Nonetheless, the Starheart takes control of Miss Martian's body and transforms into her White Martian form, causing her to attack her comrades again. Batman ultimately tells her to stay on Earth and try to fight the other metahumans being controlled by the Starheart, explaining that bringing her along would jeopardize the mission.
During the events of Justice League: Generation Lost, Power Girl assists her fellow heroes in a global manhunt to track down Maxwell Lord, the former head of Justice League International and the murderer of Ted Kord, who had been restored to life at the end of "Blackest Night". Lord uses his powers to erase his existence from the minds of everyone on the planet, including Power Girl. She subsequently helps Booster Gold find proof of Lord's existence. Through the course of their search, during which Power Girl encounters Divine, a raven-haired clone of herself, she manages to regain her memory of Lord. As she attempts to inform the Justice Society of this, Lord uses his powers to take control of her and attack the Justice League International, but manages to convince the others of his existence through the exhumation of Ted Kord's corpse.
Following the New 52 reboot of , Power Girl appears as a refugee from Earth 2 in Worlds' Finest along with Huntress.
During the relaunch of DC Comics' entire superhero line known as The New 52, Karen Starr appears in the Mister Terrific series as a friend of the titular hero. In the series, Starr is still the head of Starr Enterprises, which was financed by her comrade in arms Helena Wayne (Huntress) after the latter hacked into Wayne Enterprises accounts. From a software design and development corporation, Starr Enterprises now purchases intellectual property and technology with possible interdimensional access capabilities so that the two women can return home. Power Girl subsequently stars in a new ongoing series, Worlds' Finest, which premiered in May In the new continuity both she and Huntress, with whom she is partnered, are from Earth-2 but were flung into the Prime Earth's universe by an interdimensional vortex of unknown origin during the closing stages of an invasion from Apokolips-2 which took the life of Earth-2's Wonder Woman, Batman, and Superman. It is also revealed that prior to adopting the alias of Power Girl, she functioned as Earth-2's Supergirl and, in stark contrast to the Supergirl of Prime Earth, Karen loves her adopted Earth with a passion and was accepted with open arms by an adoring public. Power Girl eventually returned to her source Earth in the Earth World's End weekly mini-series to team up with the new Earth-2 Superman Val-Zod. A temporarily amnesiac Power Girl from a seemingly alternative reality (not Earth-2, but more reminiscent of the pre-New 52 Power Girl) crashes in Harley Quinn's reality as shown in the Harley Quinn () storyline "Power Outage" (Issues #). Some of the missing time from this joint encounter was explored in the 6-issue mini-series Harley Quinn and Power Girl (). Due to an attack by some evil aliens she got knocked back to Earth and landed at Harley Quinn's feet, devoid of memories. Harley temporarily took her on as a partner and they fought crime together before being sent across the universe on a quest to return home. When Power Girl got her memories back and realized that Harley had lied to her, she was less than amused, but forgave her. However when Harley hit on her, Power Girl left her atop the Eiffel Tower. Power Girl has reappeared in Harley Quinn's ongoing series several times since and has recently taken Terra/Altee on as her sidekick/partner.
In the post-DC RebirthDC Universe, Power Girl (Karen Starr) appears to be trapped in some sort of interdimensional void between earths. Tanya Spears tries to get Karen Starr out by using an etheric transponder that allows her to travel there in an incorporeal state, but her physical body was disconnected from the machine by an unaware Kid Flash (Wallace West), so both women remain trapped as a result.
In the "Watchmen" sequel "Doomsday Clock," Power Girl returns to the DC Universe when Doctor Manhattan, inspired by Superman, undoes the changes that he made to the timeline that erase the Justice Society and the Legion of Super-Heroes.
She can be seen talking with Blue Beetle on the background alongside Supergirl.
Powers and abilities
As the biological cousin of Superman, Power Girl exhibits all of the classic Kryptonian powers: super strength; flight; super speed; invulnerability; x-ray, telescopic, microscopic and heat vision; freeze breath; and super-hearing. Over the years various writers have given Power Girl's Kryptonian power differing levels, reflecting the lower powers of the Earth-Two Superman Kal-L. For example, Power Girl can fly through space, but has to breathe, so before she leaves a planet, she must take a deep breath and hold it for several hours until she needs a new oxygen source. Power Girl needs to sleep or she will experience disorientation due to fatigue. However, as recently shown in "Brightest Day", she now draws her superpowers from yellow sunlight, just like Superman. The reason for this change has not yet been explained.
Since she is from an alternative universe (pre-Crisis Earth Two), kryptonite has no effect on her, but she is still vulnerable to magic. As Karen Starr, she is an accomplished business woman and is regarded by Mr. Terrific as a first rate scientist. Even though Power Girl is from an alternative universe, her biology is still similar to Superman's. As one of a handful of characters who survived the Crisis on Infinite Earths, DC editorial was initially uncertain how to portray the character and attempted to portray Power Girl with a non-Kryptonian origin for a number of years. Power Girl's abilities have fluctuated since For some time, Power Girl believed she was an Atlantean. At one point, Power Girl possessed telekinesis; at another she was vulnerable to attacks by certain natural elements (for example, wooden weapons). After sustaining severe injuries from a magic attack Power Girl retained only a degree of super strength, speed and durability. However, she later recovered her ability to fly, and writers have gradually restored her superpowers.
Physical appearance and costumes
Power Girl's original Wally Wood artwork () showed her as relatively busty but otherwise her figure and build conformed in appearance to other contemporary comic book women. However, in Wonder Woman #34 (), written by Gail Simone, Dinah Lance, the Black Canary, mentions Power Girl as having the top bosom of DCU, comparing her assets with a "national treasure". Her most common outfit is a leg-baring, figure-hugging, long-sleeved white leotard with a keyhole cut-out opening in the chest.
According to character writer Jimmy Palmiotti, "Okay. When the character was created, Wally Wood was the artist that drew Power Girl, and he was convinced that the editors were not paying attention to anything he did. So, his inker said "Every issue, I’m going to draw the tits bigger until they notice it. It took about seven or eight issues before anyone was like, "Hey, what’s with the tits?" And that’s where they stopped. True story."
Power Girl was at one time portrayed as having a highly athletic but slender physique. Artists Bart Sears (in the Justice League Europe series), and later Alex Ross (in the limited seriesKingdom Come) restored Power Girl's well-endowed shape. Ross rendered her as a heavily muscled Power Woman (as if she was an ardent bodybuilder).
The character is consistently depicted as a large breasted young woman, and her physique is one of her most recognizable attributes – to the extent that various writers have acknowledged it in both serious and humorous ways.
For example, Justice League Europe #37 () attempts to explain Power Girl's revealing costume by having Crimson Fox question her about it; she receives the reply that the costume "shows what I am: female, healthy. If men want to degrade themselves by staring, that's their problem, I'm not going to apologize for it."
Conversely, in JSA: Classified #2 (), writer Geoff Johns has Power Girl explain her cleavage-window to Superman, revealing that "the first time I made this costume, I wanted to have a symbol, like you. I just…I couldn’t think of anything. I thought eventually, I’d figure it out. And close the hole. But I haven’t." A similar treatment of the character can be seen in Superman/Batman #4 (written by Jeph Loeb), in which the heroes need to distract the Toyman while Batman and Superman battle Captain Marvel and Hawkman. Batman suggests that Power Girl's endowments would be likely to distract Toyman, a year-old boy. Toyman later attempts to make a reference to the size of her chest before being cut off by Superman. A variant of this joke is included in the Superman/Batman: Public Enemies movie.
Power Girl's costume design has varied greatly over the years. Her classic costume design from All-Star Comics #58 is that which is in use today: a red cape and belt, blue gloves and boots, and a white bodysuit sporting a circular cleavage-exposing cut-out on her chest (its variable size and shape determined by the artist depicting her). According to Gerry Conway, "The true, dumb reason for the circle? At the time, it was a convention for hero costumes to have a chest symbol. I thought a giant 'P' looked silly. The circle was intended as a nod to convention without being conventional. Not a sexy thing at all, until Wally Wood’s inks." This window was closed for the first time in All-Star Comics #64, pencilled by Wood. According to Conway, it was dictated by publisher Jenette Kahn, because "she felt it was sexist". During her time with Justice League Europe/America, she wears a capeless yellow and white spandex unitard, and later a blue and white spandex unitard with a short mini-cape, headband, and a diamond shaped opening on her chest, once again exposing her cleavage. She has also worn a headband, as had Supergirl prior to her death in Crisis on Infinite Earths. In a guest appearance in Green Lantern, Kara is seen in her large wardrobe closet with every costume design she has ever worn in DC continuity, deciding which costume to wear for that mission. Her original costume returned when Johns and David Goyer had her rejoin the JSA.
In Justice League: Generation Lost #16, she sports a variation of her traditional costume that includes pants.
As part of DC's reboot of its continuity, The New 52, Power Girl was reintroduced into the DC Universe as first being the Earth-2 Supergirl, where she wears a variation of the traditional Supergirl costume designed by Kevin Maguire that features red gloves and belt, and a new S-shield, identical to the new Earth 2 Superman's, and has a cape that attaches directly to the shield. However, some aspects of her continuity were retained: she was still adopted by Clark Kent and Lois Lane, married on Earth 2 before their deaths and still uses the secret identity of software entrepreneur Karen Starr. After some time passes, she decides to take on a new identity as she is now trapped on the mainstream DC Earth. Here she adopts the identity Power Girl, where she wears a white one piece body suit that covers her legs, and a red cape that attaches to a new P-shield symbol over her left breast. In Supergirl #19, she returns to her classic costume, complete with the opening on her chest, after her then-current costume is badly damaged. Later, when back in her home world, she discovers her cousin and adopted father Superman has been resurrected by Darkseid, but Superman sacrifices himself to help stave off Darkseid's attack on Earth. After his second death, Power Girl's adoptive mother Lois Lane (Red Tornado) gives her the S-shaped hope symbol from Superman's chest, which then becomes a part of Power Girl's costume.
See also: Alternative versions of Supergirl
- The first use of the name Power Girl was a story in Superman # (). In this story, Lois Lane has a dream where she is a superhero named Power Girl who is constantly coming to the aid of a bumbling Clark Kent whom she dreams as a superhero named Power Man. In Power Girl #23 (June ), Power Girl adopts this incarnation's red wig disguise for her Karen Starr identity (along with glasses), after being advised by Superman to make Karen a real person, not just a costume.
- In the final issue of 52 (), a new Multiverse is formed, consisting of 52 parallel realities. As a result of Mister Mind "eating" aspects of these realities, their histories are modified, and one takes on aspects of the pre-Crisis Earth-Two. This reality listed as "Earth-2" has its own Power Girl who has spent years in space searching for her long lost cousin Superman. As shown in several issues of Justice Society (Vol 3 Annual 1 () and issues 18–25), the mainstream Power Girl was sent to Post-Crisis Earth-2 by Gog and was briefly confused to be the Post-Crisis Earth-2 Power Girl by its native heroes. Post-Crisis Earth-2 Power Girl returned to her source Earth and battled the mainstream Power Girl as she regarded the mainstream Power Girl to be an imposter who caused the disappearance of her source Earth Superman who she had been searching unsuccessfully for years off-world. Post-Crisis Earth-2 Power Girl wears the original Power Girl costume and shows herself to be arrogant to the point of being unbalanced, and is overtly aggressive as shown when she openly tortured the mainstream Power Girl almost to the point of killing her as well as directly attacking the Earth Superman. The two Power Girls parted with no apologies given for the torture. Starman stated that the mainstream Power Girl will have important interactions with the Post-Crisis Earth-2 heroes including the Post-Crisis Earth-2 Power Girl at some points in the future (Justice Society Vol 3 #25), despite the obvious disregard the Post-Crisis Earth-2 Power Girl has for the mainstream Power Girl. The Post-Crisis Earth-2 Power Girl has not reappeared since this storyline concluded.
- In the Tangent Comics imprint, Power Girl is a vastly powered genetically engineered superhero created by the Chinese government. This Power Girl is of Chinese descent and is married to that reality's Superman who is an African American man with vast psionic powers. This powerful couple have conquered the Earth in the reality of Earth
- The JLA: Another Nailgraphic novel features a Power Girl who is an ally of that reality's Black Canary and Black Orchid. Though visually identical to her Earth-2 counterpart, her relationship to Superman or if she is even a Kryptonian at all is never mentioned in the story.
- In Kingdom Come, Power Girl is renamed Power Woman, and assists Superman in reforming the Justice League.
- In JLA: Created Equal, Power Girl is a member of the Justice League. She has a daughter of her own, Kara Zor-L II.
- A version of Power Girl appeared in Justice League International Annual #5, No Rules to Follow. This version of Kara has no memory of where she came from before she arrived on Earth. As part of a team of ten revealed metahumans, she sides with the heroes who go into hiding.
- Karen, now stripped of her powers thanks to the Great Darkness Engine, appeared as a prisoner of Kid Karnevil's Neo-Nazi regime shown in the Fatherland storyline depicted in Justice Society of America #37– She is portrayed as one of the world's few living surviving superheroes, with most of her comrades having been executed.
- An elderly, grotesque and blind version of Power Girl, known as Old Karrie, appeared in an alternative timeline depicted in Justice League: Generation Lost. Set in , she is stated to be the sole survivor of a violent metahuman war instigated by Maxwell Lord. According to Karrie, even the immortal metahumans were killed in the war. She also claimed to have lost her powers, as a result of kryptonite. She is still somehow alive, after more than years, without powers, food or even sleep. Another future Power Girl appears later in the series, fighting alongside a future incarnation of the Justice League. When Captain Atom is once again sent into the future, he meets an older Kara Zor-L, with white hair. She has abandoned her classical white bodysuit for a black one, with bracelets (similar to Wonder Woman's) & Superman's S-shield.
- In the Ame-Comi line, Power Girl is that universe's equivalent of Superman. She is Kara Jor-El, daughter of Jor-El, cousin of Supergirl, and the primary protector of Metropolis. She makes no efforts to maintain a secret identity, and uses her corporation to utilize Kryptonian technology for the betterment of mankind. This version of Power Girl, unusually for most depictions of Kryptonians, doesn't get her powers from the sun.
- A red-haired version of Power Girl is seen amongst the agents employed by Monarch in the battle on Earth during Countdown to Final Crisis. This version appears to be Kryptonian as she is shown to be susceptible to kryptonite and is slain by that world's version of Batman. Nothing is known about her personality or powers as she is seen only in a few panels and appears to be fully under Monarch's control and arrogantly describes Batman as being "just a human". It is the only line she speaks before being slain.
- In the DC Comics Bombshells universe, Power Girl was cloned from Supergirl's DNA by Hugo Strange during the Siege of Leningrad, and was forced by her master to fight Supergirl until the latter convinces her to turn on Strange. She escapes the facility beneath the Church of the Savior on Blood thanks to the assistance of Supergirl and another superhuman clone whom she treated like a brother, Superman.
- Power Girl (collects JSA Classified #, Showcase # and Secret Origins #11)
- Power Girl: A New Beginning (collects Power Girl #1–6)
- Power Girl: Aliens and Apes (collects Power Girl #7–12)
- Power Girl: Bomb Squad (collects Power Girl #13–18)
- Power Girl: Old Friends (collects Power Girl #19–27)
- Power Girl: Power Trip (collects JSA Classified #1–4 and Power Girl #1–12)
In other media
- Although Power Girl did not directly appear in the Justice League animated series or the follow-up, Justice League Unlimited (although she does appear in a few of the ambiguously canon tie-in comics), the JLU character Galatea (voiced by Nicholle Tom) is based on her. This character is a clone of Supergirl (also voiced by Tom) created by Emil Hamilton (who sees her as a daughter, while she sees him as a father figure) from Project Cadmus as a contingency plan in case the Justice League turned against the US. Although the clone resembles Power Girl and wears a similar hairstyle and costume (at one point, she briefly drapes a red workout towel over her shoulder, resembling the half-cape of her comic book counterpart), her personality and origin are significantly different, being a supervillain who seeks the League's destruction. She also possesses a mental link with Supergirl, allowing them to experience each other's recent memories in the form of dreams. Galatea first appears in the first season's sixth episode, "Fearful Symmetry." She subsequently appears at the end of season 2's "Flashpoint", and she is last seen in season 2's "Panic in the Sky". In her last appearance, "Panic in the Sky", she fights Supergirl for control of the Watchtower. She is defeated by Supergirl, who traps her in a contact, causing all of the Watchtower's power to flow through her, causing an overload. Following the massive surge of electricity, she is left dead, twitching and catatonic. Conversely, this continuity's Supergirl borrows several elements from Power Girl, such as having been in suspended animation (which had not been introduced in the Kara Zor-El mythology at that point) and being a surrogate cousin of Kal-El rather than a biological relative. Also, in her first appearance, in Superman: The Animated Series, when she first meets Jimmy Olsen, she's without a disguise and tells him that her name is "Karen".
- In the Smallvilleseason 2 episode "Visage", Chloe Sullivan identifies Tina Greer (Lizzy Caplan) by the moniker "Power Girl".
- In the Smallvilleseason 3 episode "Extinction", the "meteor freaks" database created by Chloe Sullivan uses a program called Starr-Ware Database System , which hints at the existence of Karen Starr's corporation, Starrware, in the Smallville universe.
- In the Smallville season 3 finale "Covenant", a girl named Kara (played by Adrianne Palicki) claims to be from Krypton, although she does not claim to be Kal-El's relative. However, when Lana Lang asks who she is, Clark pretends Kara is his visiting cousin. At the end of the episode, she is revealed to be Lindsay Harrison, a human empowered and possibly brainwashed by Jor-El's technology. As with many of the show's future superheroes, who tend to be dressed in the same colors as the costumes of their comic-book counterparts, Lindsay is dressed in white, matching the color of Power Girl's costume (minus the red cape and blue boots, as Lindsay never wore either a jacket or shoes).
- In the Smallvilleseason 10 episode "Supergirl", Lois Lane suggests "Power Girl" as a name for Kara Zor-El (then known as "Maiden of Might").
- Power Girl appears in episode 46 of Mad. She joins the other superheroes in a musical number that asks Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman about being called "Super Friends."
- Former The Flash executive producer Andrew Kreisberg hinted that Power Girl could appear in the series.
- In the DC Super Hero Girls episode "#PowerSurge", Supergirl (voiced by Nicole Sullivan) is presumed dead after a major battle with Livewire and decides to reinvent herself as a new heroine and becomes Power Girl. Her comic book origins on Earth-2 are referenced when Superman begins to suspect the ruse and she makes up a story on the spot about being an alternate universe's Supergirl.
- Power Girl appears in the animated Superman/Batman: Public Enemies film, voiced by Allison Mack. This marks her first true appearance in animation, as opposed to the above JLU version which is merely based on her. In the film, she works under the command of Captain Atom, who is under orders from President Lex Luthor. When Superman is framed for murdering Metallo, she is the only one of her group to truly doubt his guilt, and she later switches sides and helps him and Batman. She angrily attacks Major Force after it is revealed he killed Metallo and almost killed Batman; in the fight, she accidentally ruptures Force's containment suit, almost causing him to explode, which would unleash his nuclear energies on the city. The potential disaster is averted by Captain Atom, who absorbs all of the dying Force's energy into his own containment suit, making himself considerably more powerful in the process but passing out from the strain. She is later revealed to have helped them escape from Hawkman and Captain Marvel. As in the graphic novel on which the film is based, she is assigned to watch over the new teenage Toyman, Hiro Okamura, who finds her quite attractive, even "testing" his X-ray goggles on her, which she finds offensive; so she breaks his goggles and avoids him from then on (he later tries to make a comment on her breast size as well, before being interrupted by Batman). She is knocked unconscious by Lex Luthor in his new kryptonite enhanced battle-suit, but she recovers and is seen at the end, along with her squad members, taking the now-impeached Luthor into custody.
- In Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths, an evil version of Power Girl appeared on a computer page of the lesser members of the Crime Syndicate.
- Power Girl is portrayed by Ashley Hinshaw in the short film The Death and Return of Superman.
- While Power Girl doesn't appear herself, the animated Batman and Harley Quinn film briefly features a waitress, at a superhero themed restaurant called Superbabes, who is dressed in a Power Girl costume. The same restaurant is shown to offer a "Power Girl Jumbo Combo".
- Power Girl makes a brief appearance in Teen Titans Go! To the Movies.
- Power Girl appears in the DC Animated Universe in the comic book series: Adventures in the DC Universe (vol. 1) #6, Justice League Unlimited (vol. 1) #13, Justice League Unlimited (vol. 1) #16, Justice League Unlimited (vol. 1) #3, Justice League Unlimited (vol. 1) #34, Justice League Unlimited (vol. 1) #8 and Superman and Batman Magazine (vol. 1) #1.
- Power Girl appears in Batman: The Brave and the Bold #1 (March ), in which she helps Batman to stop Lex Luthor. Much like her mainstream comic counterpart, she came from an alternative universe's Krypton. In her civilian identity, she goes by the name Karen Starr and is a computer programmer. Her goal is to create a device to monitor Earth's condition, so that her new home planet will not suffer the fate of Krypton.
- Power Girl appears in the DC Universe Online video game, voiced by Adrienne Mishler. In the villain campaign, the players help Parasite to defeat Power Girl and to gain a sample of her DNA so that Lex Luthor can be one step ahead of cracking the Kryptonian genetic code. She is also a playable character in DC Universe Online through "Legends PvP".
- Power Girl appears as DLC in Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham.
- Power Girl appears in Injustice 2 as a premier skin for Supergirl, voiced by Sara Cravens.
In popular culture
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Media related to Power Girl at Wikimedia Commons
Insulate Britain protestors burn court injunction papers outside Royal Courts of Justice
Members of hated eco-mob Insulate Britain have been pictured Tuesday burning their court orders which ban them from blocking the country's major roads.
The disruptive eco-warriors set fire to paper copies of the injunctions outside the Royal Courts of Justice in central London after a High Court judge extended them until the end of next month.
Members of the Extinction Rebellion offshoot brazenly vowed to continue their disruptive protests, in which they typically glue themselves to the road at busy motorway junctions - despite the risk of unlimited fines and up to two years in jail.
The group has repeatedly blocked major roads, including the M25 and the M4, since September 13, infuriating motorists trying to get to work - including paramedics and ambulances on their way to hospital.
National Highways was granted three injunctions banning the demonstrations on the M25, around the Port of Dover and on major roads around London last month.
Insulate Britain members set fire to paper copies of the injunctions after a High Court judge extended them until the end of next month
Members of the eco-mob burned the court papers as they vowed to continue their disruptive protests, in which they typically glue themselves to the road at busy motorway junctions
At a second public High Court hearing on Tuesday, the three injunctions were extended until November
In his written arguments, National Highways' barrister David Elvin QC branded the demonstrations as 'dangerous and disruptive'.
He said: 'They create an immediate threat to life, putting at risk the lives of those protesting and normal motorway users, as well as those reliant on the movement of emergency services vehicles to protect the public and save lives.'
During Tuesday's hearing Insulate Britain members were given the chance to argue against the injunctions.
Ring leader Liam Norton, 36, told the court: 'I just want to say publicly Insulate Britain are in the process of trying to uphold the law, the UK Government has a responsibility to keep temperatures below 2C degrees.'
National Highways has been granted three injunctions banning the demonstrations on the M25, around the Port of Dover and on major roads around London (Pictured: Insulate Britain member burns copy of the injunctions)
According to court documents, people have been served with court orders related to the Insulate Britain protests (Pictured: Insulate Britain member burns copy of the injunctions)
He added: 'Boris Johnson should be on trial for treason.'
Mr Norton made headlines weeks ago when he stormed off ITV's Good Morning Britain after being challenged by host Susanna Reid for not insulating his own home, leading to him being branded a 'hypocrite'.
Nick Onley, 59, a food bank worker and community musician from London, was one of several Insulate Britain members burning copies of the court orders Tuesday.
He said: 'The papers that are being burned are the front covers of the injunctions that have been served on us as individuals.
'It's a sign of our determination to carry on protesting, to carry on raising this issue until we see some action that we can believe in'.
Breaching a court order can result in a committal for contempt of court, which if proved may be punished with up to two years in prison and an unlimited fine.
According to court documents, people have been served with court orders related to the Insulate Britain protests.
When asked about criticism of the group, Mr Onley added: 'Doing this protest in the last month is probably the most horrible thing I've done in my life.
'But we feel that we've been put in a position where unless protests cause serious disruption they are just not going to be taken any notice of.'
Mr Elvin later indicated that National Highways may ask for a default or summary judgment – legal steps which would mean the case against the protesters is resolved without a trial.
Mr Justice Lavender said that he would extend the three injunctions but was 'reluctant' to make orders with no end date.
It comes after the Mail on Sunday revealed how the group want to cause as much chaos as possible in the run-up to the COP26 summit in Glasgow next month, with one ringleader saying it would be the 'icing on the cake' if protesters were sent to prison on remand.
The group's plans were discussed at a 'non-violence and de-escalation' training day at St Pancras Church hall in Central London on Saturday. It was led by Extinction Rebellion (XR) veteran David McKenny.
The group's plans for this week were discussed at a 'non-violence and de-escalation' training day at St Pancras Church hall in Central London Saturday. It was led by Extinction Rebellion (XR) veteran David McKenny (pictured)
The group want to cause as much chaos as possible in the run-up to the COP26 summit in Glasgow next month, with one ringleader saying it would be the 'icing on the cake' if protesters were sent to prison on remand
The year-old musician is no stranger to controversy, having been sentenced to 14 days in prison for contempt of court after he glued himself to the dock at City of London magistrates' court and filmed his actions.
He was also one of a handful of protesters who confronted Sir David Attenborough, 95, at the height of the pandemic after the conservationist said the actions of XR risked alienating people.
Mr McKenny, who once taught puppeteering at the Royal Northern College of Music, told the crowd of just five: 'There's going to be an action on Wednesday and then there's going to be a press release that goes out that says the Government and police are traitors, absolute traitors.'
Referring to the group's ultimatum to the Government, he added: 'You have got ten days to make a meaningful statement on it. If not, we are going to come back and unleash hell.'
He then laughed and backtracked, instead calling it 'disruption', adding: 'That's the rhetoric we are going to be using.' He later added: 'The last week before COP26, we go as hard as possible.'
Recent protests on the M25 and the blockade of the Blackwall Tunnel, linking North and South London, has seen irate drivers confront the activists after being stopped from seeing relatives in hospital or getting to work.
Insulate Britain protesters say they will 'face aggression or violence with compassion' and all must sign up to a promise not to 'press charges on any member of the public who may assault any one of us'.
But at Saturday's meeting, they then dismissed the concerns of the public, with McKenny saying: 'All this aggression that's going on – we're essentially dealing with people's inner child.
'People have said it's like dealing with a bunch of toddlers on the road – they're all running around, stomping their feet, acting really angry.'
Ahead of the meeting, an undercover Mail on Sunday reporter was also required to read an page 'participant pathway document'.
In it, the group declared it was taking 'non-violent direct action to take on the raw, entrenched power that threatens the near-term future of humanity.'
'What we are attempting has not happened in the history of this country,' it boasted.
It added: 'To have or more people all remanded in prison all at the same time…
'Our success relies on us building strong bonds over the next couple of months so we have the strength and resolve to keep going back to the motorways, to block again and again, going to the police station, being let out, blocking again, all for as long as it takes.'
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Killer cop Wayne Couzens's wife Olena 'silently watched him face justice'
The wife of killer cop Wayne Couzens is believed to have silently watched him be jailed for the rest of his life remotely on a court camera feed.
Olena Couzens logged in to view the two-day hearing at the Old Bailey from an unknown location.
The mother-of-two was understood to be among others unable to get to court but wanted to follow the sentencing.
Her husband was sentenced to a whole life order for kidnapping, raping and murdering Sarah Everard and will never be freed.
Couzens stood with his head bowed throughout the sentencing hearing and did not look up as he was ordered by the judge to stand.
He shook slightly as he was jailed in front of his victim's family, who calmly looked on from the well of the court.
Lord Justice Fulford said of Olena to him: 'Your wife and children, who on all the evidence, are entirely blameless will have to live with the ignominy of your dreadful crimes for the rest of their lives.'
Olena Couzens logged onto a remote court feed to follow her husband's two day sentencing in real time on Wednesday
Couzens' wife Olena pictured earlier this year. She has been left distraught and stunned by her husband's actions
Olena Couzens was seen earlier this year but stayed away from the sentencing of her husband for the kidnap,rape and murder
Sarah Everard's parents Jeremy and Susan clasped hands and hugged police officers after Couzens shuffled out of the dock to be taken down to the cells.
Olena's sister says the family still don't understand why he murdered her and their 'heads are spinning' from trying to come to terms with it.
Tetyana Obukhova, 39, who is Olena's twin, told MailOnline: 'I don't know why he'd done what he's done, my head has been spinning for days, weeks while I was trying to understand it.
'I don't know the reasons that made him do it, and I'm not going to speculate.
'He must serve quite a severe punishment for what he's done.'
Ms Obukhova said her sister, Couzens' shattered wife of 15 years, was still living in the UK and she didn't know if she was planning to move with the couple's children back to Ukraine.
Criminal and policeman: Couzens seen left when he was caught and right as he served as a police officer in Kent
While on duty on February 28, he booked a £ hire car from Enterprise Rent-a-Car in Dover, which he collected on March 3 (pictured), having decided his own was too old and filthy to be passed off as a police vehicle
Just four minutes after Sarah was seen walking down Cavendish Road towards her home, Couzens' hire car, was spotted travelling east, and passing the same camera
Buying a hot chocolate and Bakewell tart at a Costa Coffee – wearing the very same clothes as he had the night before. Just over an hour later, he would dispose of Miss Everard's phone in a flood relief channel in Sandwich – but a fragment was later found in his car
Speaking from her home in Kirovograd, miles south of Kiev, Ms Obukhova insisted that the biggest shock was that on the face of it, Couzens was a 'decent' husband and father.
Olena's sister Tetyana Obukhova, 39, spoke to MailOnline
She added: 'I myself don't know what to think about it. I just don't know… perhaps he was in a kind of a state. The man I know, the man I spoke to, he is a decent, good man. He is a lovely husband, my sister never had a bad word to say about him, she never once said he was aggressive, or anything like that.'
Recalling Sarah's killing and Couzens subsequent arrest, Ms Obhukova said: 'She (Olena) learned about Sarah on the day when police came to their house. She didn't have a clue why the police were on their doorstep. She was so shocked when he was arrested.
'I don't think she could ever imagine that he was able to do such things… to kidnap a woman.'
In July, Olena told MailOnline about her horror at what Couzens had done and that she kept on asking herself 'why?' because it was 'not human behaviour.'
She added: ''If I had any idea what was going on in Wayne's head, then none of this would've happened but I didn't know anything.
'He didn't appear to be acting strangely. I didn't notice anything was wrong. I'm working full time, most of the time I'm dropping the children off at school and picking them up, I have a really busy lifestyle.
'I can't comprehend it because he never once previously showed any glimpse of violence, he was never that way. I'm just as puzzled as everyone else.
Couzens' wife Olena (left) is pictured with a friend. Olena's family say they still don't know why he murdered Sarah
'I saw nothing wrong. He had a beautiful family, a good house… what else did he need? I'm constantly asking myself 'where I did miss the signs?' How on earth could this have happened?'
Ms Obukhova revealed that Olena is likely to remain in England to raise her two children.
She added: 'She is still in the UK, I don't know if she is planning to go to Ukraine. She's got to decide what's the best for her.
'It's hard to guess what she will decide for herself, she's got a job, children are at school there.'
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Bodies come in all sizes, and if you have a child who is plus size, you need to consider how to help her find clothes that make her feel good. Girls plus size clothing and plus size junior clothing can be harder to find, but parents can make the process much easier by identifying retailers that carry plus sizes and getting creative with online shopping sprees.
👉 This article is also available in Spanish.
Some online retailers that carry Girls Plus Size clothing include:
Some online retailers that carry Juniors Plus Size clothing include:
Things to think about when shopping for girls plus size clothing
We live in a society that promotes harmful body ideals. Bodies come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. But the fashion industry makes clothes for a very narrow (literally) body type. The lack of plus size fashion for girls and juniors is frustrating for parents.
Children living in larger bodies are at risk of body hate, disordered eating, and eating disorders. This is no surprise, since its hard to live in a larger body in our society.
We recommend that parents who have plus size girls, tweens, and teens learn about Health at Every Size. This approach encourages parents to completely accept their childs body. But even the most accepting parents will find it difficult to help their kids feel when stores fail to carry kids plus size clothing.
When shopping isnt fun because theres a lack of girls plus size clothing
Going shopping an adolescent rite of passage can be fraught when youre looking for girls plus size clothing. Clothes may not fit well, may be too tight in some places and gape in others. Even worse, many retail stores dont carry plus size childrens clothes in the store.
Shopping meltdowns are common during this delicate time in a girls physical growth and emotional development. Parents and their kids can feel awful about themselves because there are so few options available.
In fact, shopping can be a major trigger for the beginning of struggles with body hate and dieting. Since dieting is a major risk factor for eating disorders, its important to address shopping struggles.
This is why its a good idea to think critically about clothes shopping before going shopping with your child. Education can help you and she understand the options and navigate the changing room with minimal shame.
Most clothes are made for straight-sizes
The vast majority of clothing available in retail stores is for straight-sizes, which range from size for adults. People who live in larger bodies find it extremely difficult to find stylish clothing in their size.
In , it was estimated that 67% of American women are plus size (size 14 or larger) (Bloomberg). However, plus size clothing is often given a tiny fraction of department store floor space. Sadly, the majority of mass retailers do not accommodate sizes beyond
This means that people living in larger bodies have a very hard time finding clothing that meets their body needs and personal style.
The excuse from fashion designers is that making plus size clothing is hard. This will remain true as long as consumers accept a lack of selection in plus size clothing. We need to increase pressure on retailers and fashion designers to dress our bigger girls, tweens, and teens.
Childrens clothing sizes
Childrens clothing is based on age. This assumes a straight growth curve in which the child grows up and out at a standard rate. However, not all bodies are made to be straight. For example, an 8-year-old girl may need a size 12 to accommodate her waist, but a size 12 length is too long.
The hardest time for plus size girls is when they are in between childrens and junior clothing sizes. For example, year-old girl may need a Junior size 2 to fit her waist, but the neck holes, armholes, and length are all wrong. Junior sizes give too much space for breasts, not enough space for tummies, and the length is wrong for most children.
Junior clothing sizes
Kids sizes end at straight-size age 12, at which point a girl goes into the Juniors dept. A 13 year-old plus size teen is not going to be able to wear a Juniors size 5 or 7. She needs clothes that fit her body shape. Straight sizes assume we grow according to thin beauty standards, however, most of us dont.
This mismatch happens right as girls are gaining weight for puberty, and their shapes are in transition. Its as if Junior sizes forget that tweens bodies are gaining weight and growing unpredictably. Straight sizes assume a standard chest-waist-hip ratio that doesnt fit the majority of the population.
Every brand uses its own sizing chart. This means that a woman may range up to four sizes depending on the clothing brand. This adds significant stress for people living in larger bodies, who already feel incredibly vulnerable in the changing room.
A teen who carries more weight in her thighs may be unable to fit in clothing from one brand. A teen who carries her weight in her breasts may fit that brand perfectly. This happens to straight-size and plus sizes alike.
The variation between brands can be mind-boggling. Heres a woman trying on the same size in different brands:
How to shop in the store
To avoid generating body shame and anguish, do some research before going shopping with your child. First, identify whether your child is straight size or plus size.
If your child is a straight size, then you will be able to find clothing for her in most major retailers. But children who are on the large side of straight sizes or are plus size may be harder to fit. You want to minimize the pain of not fitting into the largest size in the store. If your child is plus size, then you will likely have more difficulty finding options at your local mall.
1. Be a Fashion Scout:
It pays to do some scouting in advance. Find out whether your local retailers carry plus size childrens and plus size juniors clothing. Its better not to bring your child on your scouting expeditions. It can be frustrating for both of you to see that there are no plus sizes. Save your child from external evidence that there is something wrong with her body. Shes likely already facing that every day. We cant protect our child from constant reminders that her body does not fit our cultural ideal. But we can protect her from unnecessary exposure to fashion tragedies.
When shopping for clothes in a retail store, the key is to prepare in advance to upsize. This is especially true if your child has recently gained weight or her body has changed.
Upsizing means that you choose multiple sizes of the same item, including one that you are fairly certain will be too large. Try to avoid selecting anything that you are fairly certain will be too small. Have your child try on the clothes from the largest size to the smallest size. Avoid looking at the size label while trying on. This will help her enjoy whatever size actually fits, instead of starting small and trying to force her body into something uncomfortable or despairing over her bodys size.
Encourage her to ignore the size label while she is trying the clothes on, reminding her that every brand does sizing differently, and its important to buy things that fit well, regardless of the size on the label. Be careful to avoid bringing any judgment to the sizing process.
3. Dont praise clothing size
If she fits in a smaller size than you were expecting, dont praise her for having a smaller body. Just acknowledge that the size fits her well. If she is too large for the largest piece of clothing in a certain style, just remind her that sizing is crazy.
Remember: if the pants dont fit, its the pants fault not her bodys.
Whether the pants fit or not should never mean that you provide praise or disapproval of your childs body. Remind your child that it is the clothings job to fit her body. It is not her bodys job to fit the clothing.
How to make online shopping work
Unfortunately, most of the major retail clothing stores do not provide plus size clothing in-store and if they do, it can be very limited. An exception for Juniors is Forever 21 and H&M, both of which do a decent job of including Junior plus sizes on the floor.
Many retailers provide plus sizes online. Online shopping isnt the same as a traditional shopping trip, but your child may prefer it.
Together you can search online retailers, fill shopping carts and place the orders. If you are able, over-order the clothing with the assumption that you will likely return 30%% of the clothing purchased online. If your budget allows, order at least two sizes of every item so there are choices.
2. Take measurements
Over-ordering isnt always possible! The alternative is to take careful body measurements and consult the size charts for each retailer.
3. Fill the cart
Consider having your child do the fun part of adding the stuff she likes to the cart. Consider taking on the hard/frustrating part of figuring out which size to order.
4. Plan a try-on day
Wait until all the packages come in and have a try-on day. This can be a fun replication of the dressing room. Set all of the clothes up in multiple sizes. Lay out different outfits and combinations. Help your child evaluate how well the clothing fits, and have her sit, stand, and run around in it. Make a pile of keepers, maybes, and go-backs. This will optimize your childs experience and minimize size-shame.
This is very much like the traditional shopping trip but in the comfort of home. Once you have piles based on how well the clothing fits, you can evaluate your budget and return what doesnt fit.
Ginny Jones is on a mission to empower parents to raise kids who are free from eating disorders and body hate.
Shes the editor of More-Love.org and a Parent Coach who helps parents handle their kids food and body issues.
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