Monthly Archives: November 2015

I choose to love.

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As a therapist I have spent a great deal of time thinking about how people feel, how people think and how and why they behave certain ways.

As a therapist who specializes in trauma, I have spent countless hours with people who have trusted me enough to share details of horrific things they have been through. I have seen the devastating and long term effects caused by the violence of man.

I have seen what living in a near constant state of fear does to the human spirit. How it impacts relationships. How emotions and perceptions are affected. I have even seen how people lash out with anger and aggression because of fear.

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But I have also seen hope and I have seen healing. I have experienced healing. I have never seen healing happen from fear or anger. The moments of healing happen in a place of love and compassion. They happen when people are open to receiving and giving kindness. It happens when someone stands defiantly up to the fear- refusing to let the fear color their world anymore.

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It would be easy for me to let my fears of what might be or what could happen win. To circle the wagons and insulate myself and my loved ones from a cruel, harsh world. And it is a cruel, harsh world. But it’s also beautiful and peaceful and interesting and joyous and weird and so much more. I live with eyes wide open to the beauty and to the danger.

And every day I make a choice to approach myself and others with kindness. Every day I choose to contribute to the healing of others, of myself, of society. I choose to live in a way that reflects the kind of world I want for my daughter. I choose to make my love greater than my fear.

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Raising a Geek Girl: Curating the Toy Collection- Star Wars Edition Part II- Beyond Leia

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This post contains affiliate links.

In my last post, I covered some of the options for Princess Leia toys that are available. As of this writing, Princess Leia has been no less than a cultural icon for 38 years. She is truly a strong female character, who is a princess- now Disney Princess actually, and is a woman who can stand up to evil and fire a blaster with precision while wearing dresses and keeping her hair immaculately coiffed. It is certainly not necessary for a woman to have a put together appearance while being strong, but for my kid that who wants to wear only dresses, pink and purple and loves all things glitter, Leia is a hero she can identify with.

Even though Star Wars brought us an enduring image of female strength, the original movies themselves did not have a great many other women in them. With the release of Episodes I-III, Queen Amidala was introduced. Amidala was a woman who knew how to dress and was certainly brave, but she does not seem to have the same resonance with people as Leia. While there are some toys of Amidala still available, such as the Fashion Play Set discussed in the Leia edition, a quick search for Amidala or Padme on Amazon reveals mostly costumes.

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I do particularly like the below pose of the 4th figure from above. She was not a sex slave like Gold Bikini Leia was in her chained movie scene- but that doesn’t stop her from being marketed sexily. Note in the pose below how the chain is wrapped around her neck, not secured to her- but she holds it in her hands like a feather boa- rather than taking it off and kicking some butt. ALSO- during this scene in the movie, Anakin and Obi Wan are actually chained and in the arena with her. In my cursory internet search, I could find action figures of Anakin and Obi Wan from this scene but neither had chains. I am not saying they don’t exist- I am just saying if they do, they are so buried amidst their other action figure likenesses that I could not easily find them. Amidala has very little toys available and one of them might as well be called “sexy Padme with chain.” Super.

amidala 5 In a little over a month, the new movie, Star Wars: The Force Awakens opens in theaters and already there is a huge marketing push for toys, clothes, anything. It does appear that Disney and LucasFilms are considering girls this time. A woman, Rey, is featured prominently in all advertising and already has so many toys available- and we don’t even yet know who the heck she is or what she is like! Though recently released footage shows her piloting the Millennium Falcon like a boss.

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One of the things my husband has always says, is that the bad guys really look cooler than the good guys in Star Wars. It is true and my kid and husband are both drawn to the bad guy toys over the toys of the good guys- I mean Darth Vader is the ultimate image of movie villain. This Halloween, two of the most popular Halloween costumes I saw were the girl versions of Vader and a Stormtrooper. A couple of years ago, Newt was Vader for Halloween- though a slightly more “Newt” version- as she insisted her costume be pink and have glitter “all over it.”

Princess Vader Trick or Treating at Tampa History Center in 2013

Princess Vader Trick or Treating at Tampa History Center in 2013

One of the coolest looking characters from any of the Star Wars movies in my opinion is Captain Phasma.

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Yes, Captain Phasma is a villain, but guess what? Phasma is also a woman!! None other than Brienne of Tarth herself, Gwendoline Christie.

Image courtesy of ew.com

Image courtesy of ew.com And click on the image to read Ms. Christie’s take on why her character is good for girls.

And of course….TOYS!! Readily available TOYS!!!

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But there are a few more female characters from the Star Wars Universe I can’t leave out. Ahsoka Tano from The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels, and Hera and Sabine from Star Wars Rebels.

Left to right: Sabine, Hera, Ahsoka

Left to right: Sabine, Hera, Ahsoka

Cool looking (and non-villainous), strong, female characters. Far under-represented in the toy lines. This article discusses the issue well, especially the lack of Hera merchandise- which is crazy because Hera is the coolest of the bunch- ask my kid and her friend. The article also has a breakdown of some of the actual numbers of merchandise produced by character. There are a few figures, though, of course packaged with a male toy.

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It is not a toy, but last weekend I did make a dress for my daughter and one for her friend with Star Wars Rebels fabric because you just can’t find apparel with Hera and Sabine’s likenesses on it. Nothing fancy- but since I don’t really know how to sew- not too bad, if I do say so myself. I actually used this tutorial to figure out how to make it, and if I could do it- really anyone could. Easy solution to the Geek Mom problem of not finding enough geeky clothes for their Geek Girls!! You can find this particular fabric on Amazon, Hancock Fabric or Jo Ann Fabric.

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Raising a Geek Girl: Curating the Toy Collection- Star Wars Edition Part I- Leia

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This post contains affiliate links.

I was born the year the first Star Wars movie came out- which, of course, is actually Episode IV. My husband is a few years older than me, so while I probably wasn’t really introduced to the Star Wars Saga at least until Empire Strikes Back (1980), but more likely Return of the Jedi (1983), my husband has been there for the whole ride. In fact he was 5 years old when A New Hope came out in 1977- the same age as our daughter is now and the same age she will be when she sees her first Star Wars movie in theaters.

When I was a kid, I remember loving the movies. I had a Star Wars book set, but I don’t think I had any Star Wars toys. My husband, on the other hand, had many. In fact, we still have most of his original Star Wars toys in our garage, as well as some sheets and curtains. Don’t get excited- they were well loved and well used, therefore are not worth much more than the joy they continue to bring my husband and now my daughter. I guess that means they are priceless.

There is so much to say about the cultural significance of Star Wars, but I’m just talking about toys here. Specifically toys that appeal to girls too. All in all, sometimes Star Wars does really well at appealing to everyone and sometimes Star Wars does very poorly in representing girls/women in their toy lines.

Let me start off my saying, my kid loves all things Star Wars. If you notice the toys in the picture above, they are almost exclusively male characters and that has not stopped her love of the toys. She has pictures in her room and clothes that have some of the female characters from Star Wars, but limited toys.

Princess Leia

In the original Trilogy, Princess Leia was really the only female character. There were like 3 other females in the movie in total- maybe, in the background. But what a force of nature. Leia is just so bad ass. So there is usually the requisite Leia figure in any generation of the toy lines. It’s not really difficult to find Leia figures; however there was some issues when Disney acquired Star Wars and released a new wave of toys featuring all of the main characters from the original Trilogy EXCEPT Leia. She’s in there now, and here is a run down of some of the more specific Leia toys available.

Queen Amidala and Princess Leia Fashion Set

Queen Amidala and Princess Leia Fashion Set

Several years ago, when Newt was a toddler, we happened upon “Fashion Play Sets” for Queen Amidala and Princess Leia at one of the Disney Parks. These are similar to the line of small Disney Princess dolls that have multiple dresses they can change into. While I am pleased they did not include a pink dress in either set- Queen Amidala comes with a “framed picture” of her hubby, Anakin, while Leia has one of the dreamy, if scruffy looking, Han Solo. Star Wars has never been accused of passing the Bechdel Test, but that is a bit much. It looks like these are not available separately anymore, but a combined set is available through Amazon and possibly still at the Disney Parks. The dolls each have only 3, instead of the previous 6 outfit changes, but don’t worry, they still come with the pictures of their hunks. Though my sarcasm is apparent at a pretty annoying choice they made when marketing these dolls to girls, the rest of it really is the sort of thing right up my fancy and fashionable daughter’s alley.

Combined Amidala and Leia Fashion Play Set

Combined Amidala and Leia Fashion Play Set

The most prevalent option for Leia toys are of her in her iconic white dress and hair buns.

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You might find some of her dressed as the bounty hunter, Boushh

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And there are a few other outfits or versions you might find.

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And then there is Slave Leia.

A few days ago, word broke that Disney will be phasing out the Slave Leia merchandising. Needless to say, this decision was met with mixed emotions from fans, myself included. It’s clear why this image of Leia is so popular- she looked amazing! Like the most beautiful woman in the galaxy, amazing. And merchandise of slave Leia also looks amazing- ok, either amazing or really weird. But as amazing as she looks in the gold bikini, let’s not forget that it was not an outfit she wore on a couple’s getaway with Han, she was wearing it in scenes in which she was essentially a sex slave. Here is a really good summary, from Dylan Todd, of why it does make sense to stop marketing this image of Leia, especially to children. For me, as a mother trying to teach her daughter about her body being her own and that no one should touch her without her permission, it does feel like the right step to no longer make toys for children depicting their heroine in a state of sexual subjugation and slavery.

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On a completely different note, at Tampa Comiccon in August this year, we waited in line for several hours for Newt to have the chance to have a picture taken with Princess Leia herself, Carrier Fisher. She had the chance to meet Ms. Fisher and get a hug from her, take a cute picture and got a kiss from Ms. Fisher’s dog.

Newt and Leia

When the full trailer for the new Star Wars movie came out, Matt and I were excited to help Newt make the connection between her experience at Comiccon and the new movie. We paused the trailer here:

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Lucasfilm

Newt looked at it for a few, long seconds and then proclaimed, “That’s not Princess Leia. Princess Leia wears glasses.” Touche’.

**Note- my kid does not really have a mustache and usually does not wear a mask, but as with all super heroes, she has to protect her secret identity.

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