When a tweet from the Disney Store went out in May claiming that there were no plans to add Princess Leia merchandise to their new Star Wars line, fans were outraged. It sparked online campaign #WeWantLeia and eventually spurred a response from Disney, which said products featuring Leia were always planned, but just not in the first wave.
While that was mostly good news for fans, it still meant they would have to wait awhile before getting their hands on any Princess Leia merchandise. Thanks to a caring Star Wars fan though, one little girl didn’t have to wait very long at all.
Her father, Simon, a stay at home dad writing about fatherhood, feminism, and food on the blog Man vs. Pink, wrote in May about the lack of Princess Leia in Disney Stores and how much his daughter would love more Leia toys to play with. The comments on the blog from fellow fans voiced support and called for action. But one fan named Emily offered to give her own toys to Simon’s daughter.
“I don’t know if it would interest you, but I have a Leia doll…and several of the Episode 1 Amidala dolls (all still in boxes because that’s how I was). It’s not the iconic Leia w/ buns, but they’re just sitting in storage and I’d be happy to dust them off and send them to you to share with your daughter,” she wrote.
In a blog post this week Simon recounts what happened next when he reached out to this generous fan, who asked for nothing in return for the dolls when he inquired about how much she wanted for them. In response she replied, “I know how it was growing up a girl in a Star Wars world, so I’ll gladly share what I have.”
A few days later Simon and his daughter, who are located in the United Kingdom, received a package from the U.S.-based Emily containing three boxed 12-inch Queen Amidala dolls, a boxed 12-inch Princess Leia doll, and a Queen Amidala towel.
The package came with a handwritten note:
I hope your daughter enjoys these dolls. I’m happy to share my love of Star Wars with your daughter and your family. Hopefully these will help fill the gap until some new official merchandise surfaces.
I only have one Leia doll, but Amidala/Padmé was marketed a fair bit, with her many dresses and hairstyles. Like many overzealous fans, I snapped up what I could, but already being in high school, I never played with them—just had them on a shelf in my Star Wars covered room until another interest came along and they got put into storage for 10 or so years. Now they can leave their boxes for some proper playtime.
Enjoy! And may the force be with you, always!
According to Simon his daughter loves the dolls and is already swapping their shoes and outfits, and hosting tea parties.
“I feel immensely lucky that someone as caring as Emily read the blog and reached out to myself and my daughter,” Simon told the Daily Dot. “Now she has these dolls, she has another way to engage with Star Wars, and most importantly with female characters as that is what she is seeking out at the moment. She already—at two—defines people as either male or female, so is drawn people like her—girls—in stories.”
Despite Simon’s own interest in Star Wars, his daughter discovered her love of the franchise without his prompting. She kept going back to Jeffrey Brown’s books and when Simon brought his old Star Wars toys from his parents house intending to put them in his loft, she spotted them and has had them out ever since.
“I showed her the movies, and she responded enthusiastically to recognizing the real-life counterparts to the toys and illustrations. My daughter’s toddler female friends also enjoy playing with her Star Wars toys, even though they’ve not had the same exposure at their home. I see nothing inherently male about cool spaceships and strange creatures unless we as parents define it as so,” Simon said.
For Simon it’s important that she and other girls find female characters to identify with in the science fiction and superhero genres. He also feels that campaigns like #WeWantLeia can help companies realize they do need to make merchandise in these areas for girls. His daughter and Emily are prime examples that women and girls have loved Star Wars since the beginning and continue to do so.
“These companies want to make money, and if they see a market, they’ll sell to it—I just think we need to make them see that there is one. I don’t want my daughter to lose interest in sci-fi or comics … simply because a marketing exec has tunnel vision about how to sell products to boys and girls,” Simon said.
While Emily didn’t want anything in return (though Simon did insist on reimbursing her for shipping), she has clearly made a huge impact in this young Star Wars fan’s life. With fans continuing to come together and support each other in this way, one can only hope that Disney takes note and starts encouraging young girls like Simon’s daughter to continue their love of the franchise instead of giving them reasons to feel excluded.