Nerd Culture has often proven that it is a toxic place to be a girl. From Gamergate to sexual harassment at conventions, women are pushed away at every turn from enjoying their favorite movies or books or games. Boys stand as the gatekeepers, warding away newcomers by labeling them “fake geek girls” and ignoring or threatening the others. Companies aren’t much better, usually purposefully ignoring their female fanbase or forgetting they exist at all. Even though a teenage girl—Mary Shelley—singlehandedly invented science fiction with her novel Frankenstein and fangirls saved Star Trek with a letter writing campaign, they still get left in the dust when it comes to nerdy merchandise. That’s why, when a corporation does take notice of the fangirls, it’s kind of important.
Recently, CoverGirl announced that it was teaming up with Star Wars to create a limited-edition Star Wars themed collection of makeup. You can choose to either go light side or dark side with two super sized mascaras modeled after the factions. You can choose from six shades of lipstick and three colors of nail polish—named Speed of Light, Nemesis, and Red Revenge. There are also 10 regular sized collectible mascara tubes with quotes from the original trilogy and the new movie, Star Wars: the Force Awakens. Makeup artist Pat McGrath has also teamed up with CoverGirl to create six unique looks and video tutorials for the ad campaign. Right now, there are two videos up where you can have your makeup styled after a golden droid or a stormtrooper. This collection is every geek girl’s dream.
In the past, CoverGirl has also done another makeup collection inspired by the Hunger Games films, creating a different look for each district. Creating makeup lines for big name movies is a brilliant way to get women involved and buying in the ancillary markets because it’s reminding them that the companies do see them, that they do exist. And it’s a nice change from being almost completely left out in almost all forms of merchandise like one big superhero company is wont to do. The character Black Widow is infamous for being left out of almost all of the apparel and toys being sold, and most of that merchandise is being marketed only to boys. A Twitter account was created and dedicated to finding the places where Black Widow can be found on merchandise or, instead, lamenting her absence. But, I guess I’d rather have no female character merchandise than a shirt telling girls that they “need a hero” while the boys get a shirt saying “be a hero.” Marvel has already gotten in trouble for that little bit of sexism they exhibited back in 2013.
Finding merchandise—good merchandise—for girls has gotten a little easier over the years. Thanks to the internet, we have sites like Etsy, where people can make all kinds of jewelry and knick knacks and apparel with your favorite character, and Redbubble, where artists can sell prints that you can choose to put on a shirt, a bag, a phone case. The creativity is endless and the price varies on a lot of the stuff, tending to run a little pricey because most of it is handmade. But if you’re looking for a scarf with some YA book quote or stickers with your favorite anime character, you can probably find it if you look hard enough.
If you don’t feel like sifting through all the search results on those sites, Ashley Eckstein, the voice of the popular Ahsoka on the Star Wars: the Clone Wars cartoon, created a fan run site called Her Universe where girls can buy apparel for most of their favorite fandoms. Eckstein created the website after feeling frustrated that she couldn’t find good Star Wars themed merchandise for women that she actually wanted to wear. She has said, “The girls want what guys want, and vice versa. The hard thing is just trying to find a cute t-shirt that fits a girl better.” Her solution was to design clothes for girls by girls. Right now, the site features clothes from Star Wars, Marvel, Doctor Who, Transformers, and Star Trek, even including plus sizes for most of the designs, something that a lot of companies tend to forget about.
Merchandise is a big part of the success of any popular franchise. When companies invest in merchandise, they’re really investing in walking advertisements—the consumers that wear the shirts with the superhero logo or the famous quote. The more people that see that shirt are more likely to then watch the thing, but if only guys are being shown wearing the shirt or piece of apparel, then girls won’t get into the thing. If girls don’t get into the thing, then they won’t be marketed to. It’s a vicious cycle. One, that does seems to be getting better. Movies like the Avengers that mainly market to boys are missing out on the treasure trove that is the female audience. Star Wars seems to be taking notice of its female fans by offering them the makeup collection. Hopefully, this trend of including the girls continues and that it makes nerd culture just a little more tolerable.
This article was written by Halley Dewey, a writer for dusk magazine.