I have a beautiful 3 year old daughter who is beginning to really carve out her personality and who she is. She is defining her likes, dislikes, fears, and even a sense of personal fashion. My wife and I always made a point of making sure she was exposed to as much as possible so that she had the best opportunity to define who she was and express that through her interests.
She has always naturally leaned towards the more traditionally marketed female likes. She found her way through Peppa Pig, Doc Mcstuffins, Babies and now her real love lies with Disney Princesses. As her interests developed I found her beginning to put up her own gender divides in her perception of what to like, particularly Princesses are for girls and Star Wars is for boys.
Now to be perfectly fair, everything from the shows she watches to our weekly visits to Toys R Us subtly tell her that she is supposed to like a particular colour, and style of toy. Now, I’m not here to ruffle feathers about gender marketing, I love that she has a strong attachment to her interests. I simply want to share my own personal experience with the importance of providing a relatable, strong female character for young girls to connect with and how that can breakdown any perceived gender barriers.
Being a Star Wars mega fan myself, I can honestly stay I have tried to expose her to a Galaxy Far, Far away as much as I could. I wanted to share my passion with her and foster a shared interest. She knows who most of the characters are, often rhyming them off when we see them in a store or on TV. She has always loved the idea of Princess Leia but is still a bit young to fully appreciate the significance of her as a character. After showing some initial interest, I have found her less and less willing to entertain anything to do with Star Wars, in part because she thought it was for boys. I never wanted to force (pun intended) an interest on her but I couldn’t fully appreciate why she had no time for Star Wars. Then it hit me, I realized that the Star Wars she knew was MY Star Wars. The characters she associates with Star Wars are very much the ones I love and connect with. I never gave her a relatable way into the Universe.
With that, I attempted a different approach and showed her an episode of Star Wars: Rebels without telling her what it was. In the episode we watched Hera is front and centre, flying a X-Wing and leading the charge. The result, she loved it! I sat back and watched as she found her way into Star Wars through Hera. This is where her journey begins.
Lucasfilm has always focused on a strong female presence in their films and more recently have concentrated on providing an avenue of accessibility for a younger generation of female Star Wars fans. I can say with first hand experience that their efforts are not in vain, quite the contrary. I have experienced through the eyes of my daughter, the importance of strong female heroes in Star Wars and how they can break through any ceiling and provide a relatable pathway into the Universe.
I appreciate more than ever characters like Princess Leia, Padmé, Ahsoka, Hera, Sabine, Jyn and Rey not only for their influence on me but for giving my daughter strong, empowered characters to look up to and connect with! I can not wait to continue to share my passion with my daughter but I'm more excited to see where she takes her fandom!
Make sure to check out The Forces of Destiny (show and comics), and Star Wars: Rebels for your little Star Wars fans!
Thanks for reading,
Tim - The Nerd Room Podcast