As someone who was heavily involved in the campaign to raise awareness of this project, I’m stoked that they’re finally a reality. 😀
After earlier stating they had “no plans for Leia products at Disney Store“, Disney have caved to #WeWantLeia pressure. Time.com writer Eliana Dockterman managed to pin down a spokeperson from the elusive House of Mouse, to get a clear commitment to including our favourite Alderaanian Princess in the Disney Store’s currently male only Star Wars line up. Disney spokeswoman Margita Thompson told Time:
“We’re excited to be rolling out new products in the coming months, including several items that will feature Princess Leia, one of the most iconic characters in the Star Wars galaxy.”
The article added:
‘Thompson also pointed out that there are Princess Leia-themed costumes and toys available on Amazon.com’
What, like these? Hopefully not an indication of the proposed Disney Store line…
Anyway, well done Natalie Wreyford! It all started with your tweet.
So it seems to be an about face – or at least an understanding – from the House of Mouse. The #WeWantLeia hashtag was proposed right here, with a comment from SuddenlyFeminist Dad. Perhaps the power of the force is insignificant next to the power of social media…
A mini update to my earlier post about the lack of Leia in the Disney Store.
To recap: Disney have owned Star Wars since 2012. But despite carrying a range of other Star Wars merchandise in the Disney Store, it doesnt sell any (hardly any) Princess Leia gear.
I wanted to know why, especially since my young daughter is into Star Wars and her favourite character is Princess Leia. Initial contact with Disney elicited a rather non-committal response, essentially ‘we have no information/plans regarding Princess Leia merchandise’.
Last week, the Disney Store UK informed me they had “escalated (my) query to the relevant departments”. Today, I received the latest response.
Thank you for taking the time to contact us, and for your patience while this was escalated to me.
It is wonderful to hear your youngling is already such a huge Leia fan.
It IS wonderful my… hold on, my what? My ‘youngling’?
Interesting. It seems that the Disney Corporate Communications manual has been updated with Star Wars buzzwords – a youngling is a child undergoing Jedi training.
What’s also interesting is that ‘youngling’ is a gender neutral term. Star Wars is anything but gender neutral in the Disney Store – with it listed prominently in the ‘Boys’ tab, but nowhere to be seen in the ‘Girls’ one. The lack of Princess Leia product appears to be symptomatic of the Disney Store’s embedded gender segregation – Princesses are for girls, sci-fi & superheroes for boys.
At least the Jedi don’t divide their ‘younglings’ along gender lines. Anyway, moving on:
The current assortment of Star Wars product launched at Disney Store earlier this year is just the beginning of what is to come.
Well, that’s promising. So you’re going to sell Leia stuff right?
Disney Store designs products with all members of the family in mind, and we are looking forward to supporting the Star Wars Franchise for many years to come.
Great! Oh, hang on.
We know Disney “designs products with all members of the family in mind”. That doesn’t indicate whether they will design Star Wars products “with all members of the family in mind”.
Also, “we are looking forward to supporting the Star Wars Franchise for many years to come” doesn’t address whether they will add Leia to their Star Wars items on sale. No indication of when – or even if – they’ll get to Leia.
Once again, we thank you for taking the time to contact us, and if you have any further queries please do let us know.
Thank you too, I will.
May the force be with you,
Well, certainly makes a nice change from “Have a wonderful day!” 😉
There’s a phantom menace lurking within Disney. She’s a princess who’s smart and confident, friendly and loyal, rebellious and brave. She’s a strong leader, from a realm far, far away. She’s a wonderful female role model for our children, but you won’t find any figures, costumes, tops, lunch boxes, or backpacks with her on at the Disney Store. Princess Leia became the property of the House of Mouse following their $4 Billion purchase of Lucasfilm in 2012. Unsurprisingly, given Disney are the masters of merchandise, Star Wars goods are abundant in the Disney Store. However, it’s also abundantly clear that as far as Disney is concerned, Star Wars is a boys only galaxy. The lack of Leia came to my attention earlier in the week, with this exchange on Twitter between Natalie Wreyford and the Disney Store:
So Disney, who paid $4 billion for the Star Wars brand, and who generate billions each year in selling fantasy princesses to little girls, are seemingly ignoring their brand new ‘space fantasy’ princess. What’s up with that? I asked Disney store customer services why they have no Princess Leia products for sale. First I tried the UK store, who politely pleaded ignorance:
“…we don’t have any information on Princess Leia products at this time”.
Not much help. So I went to the source, DisneyStore.com. This was their reply:
“I’m very sorry but the Princess Leia merchandise you are interested in purchasing is no longer available in DisneyStore.com. While we make every effort to anticipate the inventory requirements of our Guests, merchandise may sell out at different rates. Regrettably, this is very difficult to forecast. Due to the popularity of some character families, one item may sell out more quickly than another within the same character family. Specific merchandise may be reordered and is then re-launched on our site as quickly as possible. Some items may sell out due to varied reasons and may no longer be offered in our Store. We apologize for any confusion or inconvenience this may cause.”
Felt like a lot of cut & pasted standard response copy there, but essentially they’re inferring that they used to have Princess Leia merchandise but they have run out. Well, it’s a case of Star Wars: The Phantom Merchandise then. While it’s possible there may have been the odd niche or specialist third party item, I don’t recall seeing any significant Leia goods on sale there. But, it’s also not true that nothing is currently available.
What’s in (Disney)store?
There’s a Princess Leia as Mona Lisa tee on sale. Oh wait that’s an adult tee. And it’s also sold out. Perhaps that’s the missing merchandise they’re referring to? Hang on, there is another Leia product on sale. Unfortunately we already own it, but fortunately it’s good, and in fact it was my daughter’s way into Star Wars – Jeffrey Brown’s ‘Vaders Little Princess‘. While obviously written from the skewed perspective of a father of sons (which Jeffrey is) it’s still a fun and witty introduction to Leia in the galaxy far, far away. My daughter frequently implores us to read it (and ‘Darth Vader and Son‘) to her. She particularly enjoys it when I read Vader’s dialogue into a saucepan – to give it that authentic metallic Vader feel.
One day she discovered my old Star Wars toys (I was trying to put them in the loft), and has had them out to play ever since. No prizes for guessing who her favourite figure is. Hint – she has headphone hair. My daughter would love to have more versions of Princess Leia to play with than my tired looking 35 year old Star Wars action figure. I don’t understand why Disney are dropping the ball on this one. Are they really so blind to the idea that there’s a market for Princess Leia merchandise?
The Phantom Menace of Disney Princesses
It appears the main problem is that Disney are defining Star Wars as a boys brand – it is prominently featured under the ‘Boys’ tab in the Disney Store, and nowhere to be seen in the ‘Girls’ section. Perhaps they are worried that the inclusion of female characters will damage what they see as the brand’s gender clarity. But it could also be a matter of vision. Maybe Disney really don’t see the potential in this stylish kick-ass galactic princess? The common wisdom is that Disney created their insanely popular Princess line.
Except they didn’t. We did.
As Peggy Orenstein tells it in ‘Cinderella Ate My Daughter‘, the idea of the Disney Princess line came to an exec when he noticed kids dressing up as (non-licensed) Disney princesses, and realised they weren’t making a cent from it. The rest is history, and our current Princess dominated reality. But the lesson here is that if Disney spot a potential buck to be made, they will respond with product. So perhaps, if we create enough chatter and feedback, they will do something about it. Tweet them at @DisneyStore, email them at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org, share photos of your little ones dressing up as Leia, or playing with Leia dolls – especially anything unlicensed that Disney won’t make a cent from. Because, like Woodward & Bernstein, Mickey Mouse will follow the money.
Pink is a girls colour. Why do people think it shouldn’t be? Girls love to dress in pink, to play with pink toys, to have pink rooms filled with pink things – it’s just a fact that pink is for girls. They still have plenty of choices – just as long as it’s in pink.
While it’s unlikely that girls do indeed have a predilection for pink, the marketing-industrial complex is very clear: “Pink is for girls”, and they keep churning out their wares targeted at them.
It’s all too easy to have or buy our girls ‘plenty’ of pink things. The big problem is one of smallness – the focus of what these things are remains relatively narrow, and this is potentially limiting our girls imaginations, opportunities, and ambitions. It’s for us as parents, and our children themselves, to set any parameters – not those trying to sell us things.
I completely buy into this line of reasoning. I avidly support the aims of campaigns such as Pink Stinks and Let Toys Be Toys. I like to think I am very studious about not buying pink things for my daughter. I am very clear with family & friends, ‘Please don’t buy her anything pink’ (she still gets pink pressies of course, and we are very grateful for peoples’ generosity!).
Anyway, I’m a total hypocrite, because when I see cool things for my daughter – that also happen to be pink – I’m powerless to resist:
And how can I complain about a pressie tee like this:
And always on the lookout for apparel with cool & confident female role models, this hat ticked all the boxes – well, apart from the non-pink one. And it just went so well with that cardigan…
Tricky eh? So despite all my great intentions, far too often I still ended up dressing my daughter like this – not what I intended at all when the great parenting adventure began.
And she’s not even at pre-school yet. I’m guessing it’s only going to get much worse when peer pressure kicks in – currently her cultural icons include Spider-Man, Wonder Woman, Princess Leia, Toy Story, and Totoro. I fear it’ll be all Angelina Ballerina and Peppa Pig before too long. So I’m beginning to think I need another front of attack against pink. Or do I?
In my early teens, I happily wore my pink Pringle jumper, or a pink tee under a suit jacket (the Sonny Crockett look). It was the eighties, and that was the style (as much as a teenage geek knows about style). But as the nineties dawned, I felt like a fool for wearing a ‘girls’ colour, and I swore an oath – I really did – to never wear pink again. And I haven’t.
As the years marched on, I pitied those fools who came into work with a pink shirt, or the people with grown up jobs wearing pink ties. I wouldn’t even wear shirts that were red and white patterned – because from a distance, they looked pink.
Pink was a girl’s colour, and I didn’t want to wear a girl’s colour.
Except pink ISN’T a girls colour. That underlines this whole issue. It’s just a colour like any other, and perhaps I need to embrace that rather than always fight it.
I think it’s time for me to break my oath, or make a new one: I need to wear pink.
In fact, I would like all men need to wear pink, and it would be great if parents could dress our sons in pink too. If the all-powerful marketing-industrial complex is going to continue to tell our girls that pink things are the only things for them, we need to subvert that. One way is encouraging our boys – and men – to play and dress pink too.
So I at least need to add pink to my wardrobe. Because pink isn’t a girls’ colour. It’s just a colour like any other. I reckon it might even suit me. Like it does my daughter.