Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Her Universe

 http://blastr.com/assets_c/2010/10/HerUniverse101410-thumb-550x459-49302.jpg



Before I start, let me just say this. I appreciate what Ashley Eckstein is doing. It's obvious she really cares about and is enthusiastic about her line, and she's using her position to make our days(and wardrobes, apparently) a little more cheerful. However, I don't think Her Universe is the huge movement she expects it to be. The website  talks about how female SW fans have a hard time finding merchandise designed "just for us" and the trials of having to wear either "very girly stuff" or "men's stuff in small sizes."  

This post from Club Jade clearly favors and is enthusiastic of Her Universe.
Vivenne's comment,(the 6th) says everything more eloquently than I ever could.

"However, it’s NOT our turn. We’re NOT getting what they’ve got.
I STILL don’t wear Star Wars franchise stuff because there is no way I can afford Her Universe. $30 for a TEE SHIRT? No. No no no. I’ll keep buying the $9.99 shirts for guys and sewing them to a better size, thanks.
Also, I do feel pretty alienated by the Her Universe stuff. You criticize the “girliness” of other Star Wars merch, yet Her Universe is ostensibly feminized above and beyond most anything else I’ve seen."

Exactly.  I always think more clothes are needed in the market(I'm a girl, after all) but alone, they won't accomplish what Ashley obviously thinks is needed-the recognition that Star Wars "is not just a boy thing."
Her solution?
Forums.

Why does Ashley feel the need for those on her site? Is it because she thinks female Star Wars fans(fangirls, she brands us, more on that later) will thrive together? Or is it because she wants to keep her "fangirl" movement alive during the months in between new releases. Are they because she doesn't want her creation to die?

There’s one problem that keep Her Universe Forums from being the next big thing. The fan base. The key to a happy, successful, forum community is a large fan base. Well,  just the name of Ashley's project(HER Universe), she is willingly splitting her fan base in two.  Ashley is associated with Barbies and The Clone Wars, dividing the fan base further. Who’s left? Apparently the people who will begin Ashley’s revolution.

Who are these people? Well, according to Ashley’s Stat page, there are 244. Impressive, for a couple of months. They are remarkably similar to each other, with similar interests and backgrounds(one difference is their fangirl-targets of affection.)  

I’ll compare HU with one of the leading forums, the TFN forums. TFN is populated by members of both genders. (out of which, 251 out of 253,381 have been on in the last 60 minutes). There are plenty of Old Republic fans, Clone Wars fans, Original Trilogy fans, Expanded Universe fans, and Legacy fans. You’ll find Leia fan clubs, Yuuzhan Vong fan clubs, even an Obscure Star Wars Character fan club. Compare that to HU, which is remarkably TCW focused. (Number of posts/topics in the TCW section: 36 Topics, 1132 Posts. Number of posts/topics in ANH section: 4 topics, and 82 posts. There isn’t even an EU section.)  Besides the era/character focused topics, what else is there? On TFN, there are so many diverse posts its impossible to describe. I got my “Things Star Wars Characters Would Never Say” there, along with “Ways to Know You’re an EU fan.”  Off-topic topics in Ashley’s world? Gems like Clone Wars Silly Bandz! *squee*  ,  Your Star Wars man ;) , and Yoda or Chewbacca Pajamas!
By the way- I am not a member of either forum. So you can be sure about getting a (mostly) unbiased opinion. I want to clear something up first. These forums actually promote the myth that girls have to be girly.  I can only wonder what our male counterparts think when they visit the site.  They would assume two things. Girls are “girly” whether or not  they like My Little Pony or Star Wars. Also, that Star Wars guys  are only good for squealing and writing mushy fanfic over. I am a   very hardcore female  Star Wars fan. I am not interested in Clone Wars Silly Bandz. I do not gush over or dream about  any Star Wars guy. I don’t care whether or not I wear Yoda or Chewbacca pjs. I am not saying that it is wrong for girls to do these things and be girly. I am just pointing out that Ashley’s forums seem to be contradicting their purpose.

My last rant: Ashley seems to enjoy labeling us “fangirls” or “geek girls”. I don’t enjoy labels. I rarely label myself a geek, nerd, and never a fangirl. (Fangirl isn’t even a real word.) These labels also contradict Ashley’s idea that SW for girls should be just as normal as it is for boys. Can I be a Star Wars fan while also being a normal person? Can’t I like Star Wars without being labeled a geek or fangirl? The idea behind these labels seems to be that liking SW is
so rare, female fans are super-exceptional and need a special label.

As for Ashley’s revolution, I’m not sure if it’s worth pursuing. The female fan base is large enough that females can be comfortable with liking Star Wars. Club Jade, one of the leading fansites, is older than TFN and just as reputable, and female led. Authors obviously recognize the female fanbase, with all the leading females in TCW and novels that are more than just pieces of meat.

Besides, people outside our wonderful fanbase are just as clueless to female fans as they always are. Even male SW fans are ignorant of Ashley’s latest enterprise. (cough: Alex) It could be that the only people which Her Universe has deep meaning to are the the 244 which populate her kingdom.


Otherwise, Her Universe is an online store. A clothes store.  Her merchandise is pretty, though a bit overpriced. I love every one of the pieces in the store, (though I can count them on my fingers), and if it isn’t more than 25$(though it probably will be) I’ll be first in line for that Mara Jade tee coming next year.

There’s my rant. It’s long. It’s controversial. Feel free to tear me apart in the comments. One thing’s for sure-if the female fan base gets more mainstream, it has less to do with HU than with Ashley, Dunc and all other female fans that are quietly, slowly, melting away the misconception that Star Wars is just for the boys.

<3 Yours,
Amaranthine


PS. Your funny post is coming soon. It's coming.


PPS. My normal posts are not like this. Don't hate me!

28 comments:

  1. I think it was a very well written post and I agree with most everything you said!
    I can't say, "Ohhh yea those mushy fan girls, squeeing all the time, soooo annoying" because i am totally a fan girl. And while I may not write mushy fanfic, I do on occasion enjoy reading it. Unless it is mushy about Ani and Padme. >.>
    I personally like the guy SW clothing, but despite the girliness of the HU clothes, I still love them all! :D

    And another reason i don't participate on the HU forums very often at all is because of 2 reasons: Most of the people are prequel people and there isn't any stimulating discussion on TO or the prequels. and then 2nd, I am in /no way/ a clone wars fan (all of the LS readers know that by now) and alot of the discussions go back to clone wars and i really have nothing to add there.

    Anyway, long comment to go with your long post. :)

    -Qui-

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  2. LOL I love my little shout out, or poke rather. Again, just in case anyone missed it, I do know what Her Universe is. :P

    Heck, I'd even buy the Mara Jade tee! I mean come on... It's Mara-stinking-Jade!

    As for your point(s). I'd have to agree with you on pretty much all of them. As for the others, I just hadn't really thought of. It's quite interesting to read what female fans think of this sort of thing.

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  3. You're right. Her merchandise is overpriced considerably, and she won't get very far if her site is only attracting girls who like TCW. Like youb said, calling it HER Universe narrows it down to a female site. Adding TCW on top of that is even worse, considering the fact that quite a few people are upset about George making the new movie.

    -Barriss :D

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  4. I agree with a lot of what you said. (Not ALL of it.) I have always felt it was a bit silly to say we "geek girls" need to become noticed. I mean, I hate how people think it's a boy thing and I appretiate that she's out there trying to help, but I think she's getting carried away lately.

    The shirts are WAY overpriced. I got the burnout and it should be of a better value than what it is considering I payed $30 for it. The letters are getting all pulled and such. It's worth about $20 or $25 maybe.

    The main reason I think she created the forums actually was because a lot of us younger girls were holding conversations on the blog. Those girls (I was one of them and so was Padme, Jedi~Chick, ec.) are actually the main ones that even use the forum.

    I don't like being called a "geek." SW is NOT geeky to me. I am NOT a nerd. I resent being called one just because my imagination and mind is fasinated by something other than Justin Beiber or Twilight. I don't even consider SW to be science fiction!! It's FASTASY.

    The new Boba Fett underwear is taking it WAY too far. I mean, am I the only girl that thinks having Boba on my underwear is a bit..... disgusting?

    I think girlyness should be encouraged. I think it's great that SW girls have a place to go. So, I'm glad for that.

    I think basically Ashley Eckstein is the covergirl for Her Universe. She's just promoting it. I have doubts that she even started the idea of Her Universe. So, maybe she did, maybe she didn't.

    Well, anyway. I still like Ashley Eckstein and still will buy from HU, but the past month I have lost some respect for her. (Like when she held that panel of sci-fi women talking about the misconception a couple months ago. That was a bit silly.)

    So don't worry! I actually have felt this way for a while! I won't hate you! LOL Now I hope no one else will hate me...

    ~Leia <3

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  5. @Qui
    Yeah. I didn't mean anything bad toward fangirls, squeeing or not. The HU shirts are beautiful.
    @Alex
    :D I didn't mean any offense toward guys, either
    @Barriss
    Yay! Someone agrees with me!
    @Leia
    Thanks.

    Thanks for taking the time to leave nice comments, everybody!

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  6. And I do think this was Ashley's idea. She's everywhere. She writes everything on the blog, her pictures are splashed everywhere when you google "her universe."

    interesting perspective, though.

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  7. Well, maybe, maybe not. I guess it probably was her idea though.

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  8. I agree with some (but mostly not ALL) of what you said. I personally LOVE HU and am a very big supporter. Money is tight these days, but I have to admit that my HU stuff has lasted pretty well and is still as comfortable as it was when I bought it. It is a bit expensive. I love what Ashley is doing and how hard she has been working to help get us fangirls noticed. Also I don't think that SW is geeky at all, yet I am often called (either geek or freak) by my friends. I know that she started it, I've talked to her myself!!
    Leia, too true, us younger girls were pretty much ruling the blogs and taking over! I can understand why she started the forums, it's a great way for us fangirls to connect and make friends. I know I have!!
    Ashley is very inspiring, and I really think she is doing a great job.
    BTW, I get so squealy and excited over all things "mushy gushy" as my cousin would say, and am a huge SW romance enthusiast. This is just my opinion, and I respect yours but I just had to put in my two cents!! ;)
    I am Jedi~Chick btw, I visit alot of these blogs and I just promoted myself shamelessly to yours!! ;) MTFBWY,
    Jedi~Chick

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  9. Welcome, Jedi Chick!
    xD
    Maybe I'm just jealous because there is no way I could afford the stuff. How much was shipping?

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  10. Shipping is $8!!!!!!! I know. That's A LOT. I guess I'm mainly upset because my burnout is messing up on the letters. For $30 you would expect the quality to be better. I actually can't wait for the next line to come out!

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  11. I'm with Jedi~Chick!
    It was all three of us (Jedi~Chick, Leia, and I) who really got the forums started. (Yeah, we started something of our own for once!)
    I personally love almost all of the HU stuff for sale--there are a couple of exceptions. But the Boba Fett underwear? Seriously? No. No. No. No. No.
    If you get the lowest shipping, it's $8. I combined orders with my best friend (we both got a shirt) and then we split the shipping.
    Yes, it is overpriced, but I think it's worth it. My shirt is very high quality. I'm looking forward to hopefully getting more for Christmas!

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  12. I honestly don't know how much shipping cost. My two shirts were bought at Celebration V. I'm happy to be a part of another blog!!!

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  13. Did you know I've never bought any single item of clothing over $20? (other then ski-jackets and stuff.)

    Sorry, even if it was a Rogue Squadron shirt with Jaina on the front and one of her quotes in grey on the back, there's no way I could bring myself to spend $38+ on one shirt. :(
    Actually, in that case, I might make an exception....

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  14. One more thing to say about the forums:
    HU didn't *make* them girly; we, the posters, made them girly.
    We do need someone to start posting stuff in the OT sections of the board. No one's started a new topic, so it's kind of.........dead.

    ~Endor

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  15. I'm mainly upset because my shirt isn't of high enough quality! Hopefully the others are better.

    I'm glad SOMEONE agrees with me! No Boba undies for me!!

    -Leia <3

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  16. I think that the underwear is a little....weird. I like the idea of pajamas though. Is the underwear for sure or just a thought? I don't think that I would be buying those!!! Maybe we should start some new topics in the OT section. I'll watch the movies this weekend and get inspired!! ;)
    Jedi~Chick

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  17. And I only made a lousy $40 last summer. I didn't work all summer so I could buy one shirt, sorry.

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  18. I must say, leia, that I toatlly disagree on SW being fantasy because it possesses none of the fantastical elements that make up fantasy. it is definatly Sci-fi.


    ~Qui~

    PS: OMG I should write a post about that, because I've heard people argue about whether its sci-fi or not...Yup i'm writing a post about that today. xD

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  19. Oh and if this is gonna sound weird to you guys,but I kinda want some Boba underwear. >.>;

    ~Qui~

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  20. The Boba Fett thing is going WAY too far. Disturbing...ick......And 8$ for shipping? That is alot of money for just shipping! Maybe if the shirts were like 20$, then it wouldn't be as unreasonable. But 30$ for a shirt plus 8$ for shipping? Wow, just wow...
    -Barriss :D

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  21. Ashley addresses this on her blog, with the excuse that "you'd rather pay $30 for a shirt that lasts you your life than a $5 that wears out next month." This seemed to calm THEM.

    Excuse me, Ashley, I expect EVERYTHING I buy to have lasting quality. If I knew it was going to wear out next month, I wouldn't have bought it!

    If I pay ANY money for it, it better be good! NO one should be so surprised that the quality is good.

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  22. And the moral of the story is: If you want comments, say something controversial! :)

    I've poked around on Her Universe, but I've never bought a shirt (too expensive!). I really like the designs, no complaints about then being to girly or anything.

    Personally, I have no problem being labeled a Star Wars nerd. I prefer nerd to geek, but I don't really care. People are going to call me that anyways, and lets face it, I consider myself a nerd. Not a geek, not merely a fan, not some crazy New Zelander who actually thinks they're a Jedi, a nerd. What term do you prefer to go by?

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  23. Hello - as someone who works with Ashley I can assure you that not only is Her Universe truly HER vision and her company but she is involved in every step of the business. She truly cares about creating quality, fun products for female fans (and for the guys who want to buy them for their female loved ones!) As for pricing - check out Ashley's latest blog here: http://heruniverse.com/her-universe-speaks-out-about-prices-sizes-designs/

    Also, regarding shipping, this week only (until 11/21) you can get free shipping on your entire order when you enter the code FREESHIP at checkout. Go to www.heruniverse.com for more info. Thanks to all those who have and continue to support Ashley and her new venture. She loves honest feedback and does listen!

    Dan Madsen

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  24. Hi, Dan!
    Thank you for the response. I'm glad to hear about Her Universe's free shipping and look forward to hopefully being able to get something for Christmas. Tell Ashley to keep up the good work, and we're looking forward to seeing(hearing?) more of her in season three.

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  25. Hi -- these are great comments, and thanks Amaranthine for raising these for discussion. I've been lucky to work with Ashley on Her Universe for a little while now and wanted to raise a couple other points for those interested.

    Agreed that TFN has great message boards, but I don't think that the boards on Her Universe boards are intended to be the next big thing or even to come anywhere near the scope of TFN. The forum is an outlet for fans to talk, chat, give Ashley suggestions, and even air their concerns/complaints. I like the fact that it gives people one more way to connect with the company in addition to the existing outlets on Facebook, Twitter, and comments on Ashley's blog, rather than the "we're on this side, you're on that side" wall that you see with some companies. The Silly Bandz topic is something that forum members created; anyone is welcome to create a topic more suited for their own interests if they want.

    Regarding "fangirls," agreed that not everbody likes that term. But I don't think it's an attempt to give female fans a special label, just that it's a play on fanboy, which is so common they named a movie after it!

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  26. (HICCUP)
    Hi, Dan.
    You wrote the "The Essential Guide" series! I love your books! how did you find my blog?

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  27. Hi Amaranthine! Thanks for the kind words about the Essential Guides! I found your blog through the power of the Google. :) And I wouldn't worry about Ashley or anybody reading these and thinking anybody being critical; I know Ashley and Her Universe are really trying to encourage dialogue (the forums are part of that) so that means anything honest can't be bad!

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Amaranthine <3's you. Thanks for the comment!