Not All Girls Want To Be Leia...or Padmé or Rey (an open letter to Disney and LucasFilm)by Cypher Lx on 12/24/15
Let me start by saying that I am a huge Star Wars fan. I was a mere four years old when the original film premiered, and I had Star Wars posters on my bedroom wall. I had action figures, too. Like every kid in my generation, I fantasized of being a part of that galaxy far, far away. Unlike most of the little girls of my generation, I didn't dream of being Princess Leia. Don't get me wrong. She was an incredible woman who bravely led the Rebellion, and is still a force to be reckoned with in the newest installation. Leia knows her way around a blaster and will do whatever it takes to save the people she loves.
The next generation brought about the prequel trilogy, and another strong female character known as Padmé. While I wasn't quite as impressed with her as I was with Leia, she still had that presence that commanded respect. By this time, I was in my twenties, and yet, the character didn't appeal to me as a woman of approximately the same age.
Now that The Force Awakens has debuted, I'm not ashamed to say that I scheduled a vacation day just to see it on opening night. And then went to see it a second time the next day. I will most likely see it a third (maybe even fourth) time before it leaves the theaters, and then buy the DVD when it's released. Did I mention that I'm a huge Star Wars fan? This newest film rekindled the childhood wonder I had when I saw the original movies. Along with bringing back some of my favorite characters, new favorites were introduced, Rey being one of them. Even stronger and more resourceful than her female predecessors, she brought something to the screen that will be an inspiration for a new generation of little girls.
Still, not every little girl wants to be Leia, Padmé, or even Rey. Some of us secretly wanted to be the "bad guy". Darth Vader had the commanding presence that didn't require a single word to be spoken. Darth Maul, my favorite and shortest lived Sith, had some of the most awesome fighting skills, not to mention the double bladed lightsaber. Kylo Ren, despite his violent outbursts, has more control of his abilities than most other Force sensitives. The problem for little girls, and now grown women like myself, is that the awesome Dark Side characters I mentioned are male. Where are the iconic Dark Side adept females? The Light Side has both, so why is there no balance in the Force? I do commend the fact that there are now female Stormtroopers and that Captain Phasma is a woman. It's definitely a step in the right direction.
So, why is this so important to me? Little girls are still placed into gender roles, despite years of gender equality progression. Some have been picked on for even liking Star Wars because, for some reason, it's considered a boy's interest. For little girls who want to be something other than a Light Side princess/general or queen/ambassador or whatever Rey might be, things become more difficult.
When I was little, I wanted to be Darth Vader. Just the long, black cape alone was enough to make me love the costume. As I got older, I wanted to be Darth Maul. I bought a double bladed lightsaber and had battles with my males friends on summer nights. I usually won. Now, because make believe isn't just for kids, I want to be Kylo Ren. He exhibits the momentary loss of control over his emotions that I think every grown person with a ton of responsibilities wishes they could have when things just don't go right. The temper tantrum that was okay to have as a child, but became unacceptable once adulthood struck.
Prior to the new Star Wars release, I became a Cadet with the 501st Legion, an organization that is a dream come true for Star Wars fans to become their favorite Dark Side character while being able to do something good at the same time. I had a difficult time deciding on a costume build. There just aren't a lot of choices for a female unless you want to wear full body paint and, in some cases, a bald cap. Two of my favorite characters weren't even an option. I'd make a less than imposing Darth Vader, and Darth Maul was out for the obvious reason that all the face paint in the world wouldn't make me very convincing. That left me with costume builds of "male" characters that were carbon copies of each other (i.e. Stormtroopers), other nondescript characters, and the rare female characters that only hardcore Star Wars fans would be familiar with. Since ninety percent of the events are for children, chances are, many of those characters won't be recognized. Now, that hasn't kept me from continuing with my builds. I have a Sinya, Staff Officer, Tusken Raider, Jawa, and Mother Talzin in the works. I'm even planning on starting a Kylo Ren build. Unlike some of the other Dark Side males, I actually have a body type closer to Kylo's. Experience in other costuming has taught me how to camouflage the obvious fact that I'm a woman, and the mask will do the rest.
Yes, I have accepted that female Dark Side adepts aren't plentiful, but I think that they should be a serious future consideration, for the benefit of the newest generation of little girls who don't want to be Leia, Padmé, or Rey. Believe it or not, girls like to embrace the Dark Side, too.
Star Wars, A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, Revenge of the Sith, The Force Awakens, The Clone Wars, Princess Leia, Padme Amidala, Rey, Darth Vader, Darth Maul, Kylo Ren, Dark Side, 501st Legion, Disney, LucasFilm