The Mara Catsuit DilemmaMarch 6, 2012 at 8:44 am | Posted in Her Universe, Opinion | 2 Comments
Tags: Mara Jade Skywalker
Aurelia: As a female, I can tell you that I am not always happy with how women are portrayed in the media. This includes books, comics, movies and even my first sci-fi love – Star Wars. Apparently, an issue has arisen among some in the Star Wars ‘fandom’ surrounding the visual portrayal of the Expanded Universe character, Mara Jade Skywalker. Mara is almost always seen wearing a form-fitting catsuit that many say is not as distinguished as more Jedi-like attire seen on both Luke and, lately, his sister Leia. An example of this unrealistic portrayal of Mara, is her picture on the cover of the book Star Wars Legacy of the Force: Sacrifice. At that time Mara was 57, but she actually looks to be in her early 30’s on the cover. Now, you may be thinking, is that really an issue? Personally, since it is only a book cover, I do not think so. However, if you see the picture of Leia on the cover of Star Wars Legacy of the Force: Exile, Leia is depicted age appropriate whereas Mara isn’t, even though they are around the same age. Now, we can’t change the images on the cover of the books, but we can talk about why Mara is portrayed as young & sexy all the time.
Synlah: Speaking about the books: did you know that Mara was never depicted in a book as wearing the catsuit? That came later, with the comics and a different target demographic. But that aside, for me it’s an issue not only because of Mara’s age and status at the time, but because we’ve also got a surfeit of Mara catsuit images. I mean, you could break your leg falling over the plethora of “Mara in a catsuit” images out there. Now don’t get me wrong, I like the catsuit, but does it have to be the catsuit 24/7? As you mentioned, Mara was a Jedi master, and not just any Jedi master. She was the life partner of Luke Skywalker. She was his foil and his support. She had a special perspective on what it meant to be a Jedi (and a master) because she had personally been trained by Palpatine and was loyal to his bidding, and then married her love, Luke Skywalker. This was a great woman, and a great Jedi master. I’m not saying dump the catsuit, but there is a case to be made for too much of a good thing. Give us a Jedi master Mara for some variety here.
Aurelia: One theory I have, is that part of the reason Mara always looks ‘sexy’ is because she is an EU character. This means that she was not in the original movies, so Mara’s look is not based on an actual person. With Leia, her look is based on that of Carrie Fisher, who played her in the original Star Wars movies. For some reason, Leia is made to look more realistic than Mara in their ‘Expanded Universe’ images. Maybe, because Leia is based on a ‘real’ person, the artists that create the Leia images feel more compelled to make her look like Carrie Fisher, whereas Mara Jade’s portrayal is more ‘open to interpretation’. I think that Mara’s cover on the book Sacrifice was not necessarily designed to be an exact image of her from that book, and it could have just been an artist’s interpretation of her beauty.
Synlah: The only answer I have to that is: Jaina Solo. Jaina is also an EU creation. Yet, Jaina has never (to my knowledge) been portrayed with the uber-sexiness of Mara. We’ve seen Jaina in her flight suit, Jedi robes and, yes, a variation on the catsuit. In other words, variety because Jaina (just like her mother) has been many things. Well, so has Mara so how about some recognition of all the things Mara has been? If we can get a Slave Leia, why not the reverse with a Jedi master Mara?
Aurelia: Where this really becomes relevant is with the Mara apparel that is to be released by the clothing company, Her Universe. Her Universe was started by Ashley Eckstein (the voice of Ahsoka Tano on Star Wars: The Clone Wars) in an effort to give female Star Wars and sci-fi fans merchandise tailored to their interests as women. Now, I have varying opinions on Her Universe, but that is for another article.
I suggest to Her Universe that if they do end up producing a Mara Jade Skywalker t-shirt, that the shirt actually does feature an image similar to that of the book, Sacrifice. I actually love that book cover and would be proud to wear it as a shirt. Not only does Mara look beautiful, but she also looks strong and confident, and that is really what I look for in good female characters. For the t-shirt image, if Her Universe wants to add a ‘Jedi Robe’ reference, I suggest that they have Mara in her ‘cat suit’, but also feature an open black or brown Jedi cape/robe on her. I’m not sure how that would look, but since Mara already looks so good in her outfit, why should we change it?
Synlah: I applaud Ashley Eckstein for what she’s doing because the female Star Wars demographic has been a little too ignored. Females are fans too. We see the movies, watch the shows, play the games and read the books and comics too. It’s time we got some consideration, and Her Universe is another step in that direction. Considering that George Lucas introduced the first truly feisty and liberated female hero to the public, I’m actually surprised it’s taken this long to get something like Her Universe going. Now I appreciate the dilemma Her Universe could find themselves in because the cat suit image is so very prevalent it’s what fans are expecting. To go against that could result in a backlash. And with the character of Mara dead (but not quite gone), maybe the image ship has sailed.
But, still, I’d really like to see something besides that darn cat suit.