Diamond Jackson, a professional photographer living in Montgomery, Alabama and a mom to three girls, has no idea where her youngest daughter, Rose, got her love of Spider-Man. All she knows is that it's real.
"We were literally walking through Target one day and she saw maybe a Spider-Man book bag or a lunchbox," Jackson told TODAY Parents. "We had never watched Spider-Man on TV — she just saw him in the store that day and fell in love with him."
So Jackson wasn't surprised when Rose wanted to dress up as Spider-Man for her third birthday photoshoot.
“She doesn’t like doing photoshoots,” Jackson explained. “As a photographer, I take photos of my daughters all the time, and she’s the most difficult one. However, on this day it was different because she was doing something that she actually liked and loved. So everybody asked me, ‘How did I get her to pose that way?’ Well, it was natural for her because that’s really what she wanted to do. This shoot was really all about her and her love for Spider-Man.”
Rose demanded she receive the full Spider-Man experience, including a full-faced mask. So Jackson purchased a simple Spider-Man costume at a local store, then altered it so that the suit could showcase Rose’s natural hair.
“I have three daughters, so I have to actually teach them to love every part of themselves, including their hair,” she said.
One 2016 study from the Perception Institute found that, on average, white women show explicit bias toward Black women's natural hair, rating is as less beautiful, less attractive, and less professional than "smooth hair."
The importance of representing natural hairstyles in media, particularly children's media, was most recently highlighted with the smash-hit animated movie "Encanto." Across the country, parents have been posting videos of their excited children pointing to the characters on their television screens who look like them.
It was also important to Jackson that people knew that it was a little girl, not a little boy, dressing up as Spider-Man.
“This was a little girl who loves Spider-Man. She didn’t want to be Spider-Girl. She just loves Spider-Man," she said. "And I mean, why not? Spider-Man can be whoever he wants to be under that mask. She wanted the suit, so I had to make that happen."
Jackson said she never could have anticipated how people would react to her daughter's Spider-Man photoshoot, nor did she realize that taking those photos would inspire so many people.
"I was just taking the photos because my daughter loves Spider-Man," she said.
Jackson said Rose can't stop looking at the photos of herself dressed up as Spider-Man, often taking off with her phone and showing the pictures to anyone who is around. The proud mom anticipates these Spider-Man-inspired shoots could become an annual affair.
"I mean, at this point the whole family likes Spider-Man!" she said. "We want to take it to the next level every year."