On January 29, 2008, Star Wars fans were introduced to a new character named Ahsoka Tano. It was announced that she would be the padawan of Anakin Skywalker and would appear in Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Fans were intrigued by this new female padawan, but they had no idea how Ahsoka's story would unfold and change the history of Star Wars fandom forever.
Ashley Eckstein took her role of voicing Ahsoka seriously from the very beginning. Along with her work bringing Ahsoka's character to life, she founded a company in 2009 called Her Universe. This company specializes in something that was very rare at the time of it's introduction-- clothing designed specifically for female sci-fi fans. Eckstein was bold and acted as a voice for fangirls who wanted merchandise tailored to their body type.
Ahsoka's character was widely popular among Star Wars fans, especially young girls, during her appearance on television for five seasons. The Togrutan padawan was a symbol of strength and hope to many of the Clone Wars viewers. During her story on screen, Ahsoka endured many challenges and gave fans of all genders a character to identify with. When the cancellation of Star Wars: The Clone Wars was announced in March of 2013, fans thought that Ahsoka's story was over, but two years later they were thrilled to see her return as a wise and powerful figure in Star Wars: Rebels. This show takes place chronologically over a decade after the end of the Clone Wars, which was the last time fans saw Ahsoka.
At Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim, California in 2015, Star Wars fangirls Amy Ratcliffeand Johnamarie Macias organized an #AhsokaLives Day to celebrate the return of Ahsoka Tano in Star Wars: Rebels. Men and women from across the globe gathered to mingle with each other and show off their favorite Ahsoka inspired fashions. Little girls were dressed in Ahsoka Tano cosplay tops, Ashley Eckstein was wearing her popular "Ahsoka Lives" T-shirt, and the director of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Dave Filoni, even made an appearance to show off his love for Ahsoka.
Eight years after the introduction of Ahsoka Tano, life for female Star Wars fans has changed drastically. Before this time, it was almost impossible to find Star Wars clothes made specifically for girls. The ratio of female characters in Star Wars compared to male character was immensely off balance. Now women can walk into practically any department store and find a Star Wars shirt in their clothing section. Hot Topic andTorrid carry Eckstein's line of Star Wars fashions in styles ranging from sizes XS-6X to make sure every type of fangirl can proudly wear Her Universe. Characters like Sabine and Hera from Star Wars: Rebels are inspiring young girls to be strong during difficult times. Rey and Phasma from The Force Awakens are proving that female characters deserve more than just a background role with no speaking lines. Ahsoka Tano was just the beginning of a world-wide movement to push female characters and their fans into the spotlight.
Eckstein has expanded her company into a platform of more than just clothes. Every day a new girl is featured as "Fangirl of the Day" on the Her Universe website to recognize women of all ages for their love of science fiction. She also launched Her Universe Press, a publishing imprint, in October of 2015 to give women an opportunity to see their original stories professionally published. Her Universe has led the way in showing that Star Wars isn't just for boys and female fans want to be acknowledged too.
After taking a look at how female representation in Star Wars has changed since the introduction of Ahsoka, there is only one thing to say-- thank you. Thank you Ashley Eckstein for listening to Star Wars fangirls and making sure their voices were heard. Thank you for creating beautiful clothing designs to help women flaunt their love for a galaxy far, far away. Finally, thank you for being bold enough to continuously work hard every day to further the representation of female fans. Without you, none of this would have been possible. Happy Ahsoka Day.
By: Savanna Kiefer