I cannot contain my excitement over seeing Star Wars: The Force Awakens. There are no words that can describe the effect that these films had on my childhood, and that makes me one of a very large community.
As the nerd world opens up to reveal more than the stereotypical male enthusiasts, we are seeing more and more niche communities of female fans of every type of nerd-dom from gaming to comic books and beyond. One place where barriers are broken down physically is cosplay, and specifically non-male Star Wars-inspired Stormtroopers.
The legions of Stormtroopers were initially believed to be clones of one original man. The new film's trailer teases with the appearance of non-clone Stormtroopers of many ethnicities and genders, just like the real-life hoard of Dark Side fans known as the 501st Legion. These cosplayers come from every walk of life to serve the Empire.
As much as I root for the Jedi, I also find myself leaning more to the Dark Side for thrills as well as style inspo. So I caught up with three lady members of the 501st so we can all nerd out for a second in anticipation of Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens!
Erin Victor AKA TB-4610 of Tulsa, Oklahoma, 501st member since 2011
Favorite female characters: "Before Phantom Menace, Princess Leia was my favorite! She was smart and sassy and got the job done. As an eight-year-old girl, I watched Return of the Jedi over and over again because of the cute Ewoks, and my favorite scene was Leia meeting and befriending Wicket.
"After Phantom Menace it was Ahsoka Tano, Anakin Skywalker's apprentice from The Clone Wars movie and TV series. She was young and feisty, but she grew into an accomplished and skilled Jedi who cared deeply for everyone around her."
One lesson learned from a female character: "Padmé [Amidala] was an excellent example of fighting for your beliefs and changing the world. She wasn't a Jedi or anything, but her realm was politics, and she did everything in her power to prevent the Republic's fall. Of course there were many factors working against her, but she believed in fairness and democracy, and she was brave enough to stand tall in the face of corruption."
Beauty tips from under the bucket: "I have usually had longer hair, and let me tell you, bucket hair is quite a beast! (We troopers call helmets 'buckets' instead.) Those boys just don't understand. To keep my thick hair somewhat tamed during a long troop, I do a French braid to evenly distribute it all over my head instead of just tied in a ponytail in the back. That way my bucket doesn't sit too far back on my head and squish my nose!
"Even though my face is usually hidden under my bucket, I do put on eyeshadow, eyeliner, and mascara before a troop. My scout bucket has a hinge and I can lift up the face plate if I need a bit of fresh air, or if I want to show a kiddo that I'm not really a scary bad guy. Sometimes it's fun to surprise people by showing them that I am in fact a lady trooper under my armor. They don't believe it until they see my face!"
Emily Schram aka “Lady Rex” of Maryland’s Old Line Garrison, currently Clone Trooper CC-9529, member since 2012
Favorite female character: "I never much cared for the female characters in Star Wars until the Rebels cartoon when they introduced Hera and brought back adult Ahsoka Tano. Outside of Leia, there weren't really any compelling females with staying power in the Star Wars universe. And none of them had a good set of armor. And while there aren't any female clones, I've come to love them like a family because of their loyalty, strength, and devotion to each other."
Beauty tips from under the bucket: "I usually wear minor foundation, eyeliner, mascara, and brow powder. As a helmeted character, Shadow Insurance has been a necessity. It keeps my face from transferring onto the foam padding inside my helmet or turning me into Alice Cooper after a troop.
"My beauty tip for hair? Bring a hat. Helmet hair is unavoidable for those of us that must wear balaclavas, so be sure to have a good hat to throw on after un-suiting."
Renee Berban aka “Mama Berbs,” TKID-32910, 501st member since 2013
Favorite female character: "Hands down, my favorite female to date is Princess Leia. The banter that she has with Han Solo in The Empire Strikes Back is so much fun, and she is incredibly sassy. She's such a strong female character. I wanted to wear my hair like her when I was younger, and I adore her.
"I will say that I am excited about Captain Phasma in The Force Awakens. I'm sure Gwendoline Christie is going to give Carrie Fisher a run for her money on this one."
Beauty tips from under the bucket: "I have ridiculously long hair, which makes it difficult to put the bucket on. My bucket is a tight fit, and I don't have the room to pin it up and hide it inside. I have to wear a bandana or thin beanie to hold it all into place and tuck the length inside my shirt and down my back.
"I only wear makeup underneath to some troops. If it's an outside troop in the middle of the Texas heat, it's not worth it. I don't want my face to melt and become a hot mess. But when I do wear it, it's usually a fun dark red and dark brown eyeshadow and red lipstick. That's mainly because it matches the Empire/501st/Sith color scheme and I can change into my Sith Cheerleader outfit as well. I also paint my nails with either a black nail polish with red glitter ombre effect or the all black french tip manicure."
Lord Vader, this makes me want my own suit of white armor! These babes make it look so good!
- Any Star Wars or otherwise cosplayers among us?!
- What would you wear under a bucket?