Last week local blogger and author Polly Walker alerted me to the fact that Next was selling some new Star Wars clothes. What made these different was one important detail – they were created specifically for girls.
While overall I remain uneasy about the way boys & girls clothing is defined and divided, this addition is immensely positive and demonstrates for all what I’ve always known – Star Wars is for girls too.
As a geek dad, I’ve bought my daughter all sorts of sci-fi tops since she was born. When they’re babies what they wear is frequently for parental amusement. A baby has no idea why their father might like to dress them as a Star Trek red shirt.
While these geeky baby clothes tend to not be labelled by gender, as she got older I ended up browsing the ‘boys’ section, as there was never any in the ‘girls’ one. While it didn’t bother me at first, I begun to realise that this was how geek culture becomes defined as a boys interest from an early age.
Because of this, I was nervous about letting my daughter choose her own clothes when she turned 3, as I thought that would be the end of it. I needn’t have worried.
But getting hold of different styles is an issue. Making or buying custom made clothing is one solution. My daughter was lucky enough to be the recipient of a Star Wars skirt, made for her by Francesca of Sewing Circus.
I connected with Francesca online, and the internet has helped a great deal by bringing together the large and growing geek culture fangirl community. The fact it exists at all is a testament to members individuality, and determination to not be defined by strict parameters of what it means to be a girl or woman.
While the likes of the innovative Her Universe label is taking full advantage of this gap in the market, the mainstream assumption remains – that geeky stuff involving space and superheroes is for boys only.
This often means female characters being omitted altogether in licensed merchandise, as happens with The Avengers, Big Hero 6, Guardians of the Galaxy, and – yes – Star Wars. This tells boys and girls that there is no place for women in these environments.
There is a close link between a childhood interest in geek culture and science in general. The reasons for lack of women in STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Manufacturing) are many, but the perception of science and science fiction as ‘boy’ interests is suspected of being a major contributing factor.
Do Girls Really Like Star Wars?
All I want for my daughter – and all girls – is choice. If your daughter loves pink and princesses, then she is well served by the market. But my Star Wars loving little girl and her fellow fangirls usually have to rely on what’s in the boy’s aisle, and many will feel uncomfortable about this as they grow older. I’ve already had older girls and boys ask me with disbelief whether my daughter really does love Star Wars when they see her running around the playground in her Star Wars gear. Well, she absolutely does.
The new Star Wars movie is only a few months away, with a film a year to follow after that. There are additional comic books, novels, and cartoons. The merchandise tsunami has already begun. The new saga is about to be embraced by a brand new generation of fans, including my daughter. When I was a kid, one of the biggest Star Wars fans I knew was a girl who lived around the corner. Somehow, in the ensuing decades, it became redefined as a boys only brand.
A high street retailer like Next selling Star Wars clothes for girls – even ones with pink and sparkles – gives me a new hope that such an attitude will be a thing of the past for Star Wars fangirls in the future.
What do you think? Is Star Wars for boys only? Do you know any girls who love it too? Please share your opinion below, or on Facebook.