She's the heroine of the Star Wars universe, so why was she erased from this children's shirt?

"Star Wars" is not just a film series, it's a cultural touchstone.

People know the canon inside and out. Fans dissect every intimate detail, and pass the nostalgia and wonder down to their children like a prized heirloom.


Fans celebrating the release of new "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" merchandise. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

So when anyone messes with the canon, it's not going to go unnoticed.

And someone really should've told that to Target. Because the megastore is now the target (pardon the pun) of some serious, and completely justified, nerdrage.

GIF from "30 Rock."

It all started when Target released a T-shirt in its boys' department featuring a scene from the first "Star Wars" film.

The tee has a still from the iconic scene in "Star Wars: A New Hope" in which Darth Vader points an accusatory finger at Princess Leia while aboard her ship. It's one of the few scenes the pair have together, and this scene in particular has been meme'd beyond recognition. Everybody knows it.

So imagine everyone's surprise when Princess Leia was replaced Luke Skywalker on the T-shirt.



In case your memory is fuzzy, Luke Skywalker wasn't in that scene at all. Neither were the storm troopers, but the original guy behind Vader kind of steals focus, so that swap makes sense. But to completely erase Princess Leia's existence in favor of a male character who wasn't even there? C'mon, Target. What were you even thinking?

Naturally, the Internet got wind of the unnecessary edit and gave Target a piece of its collective mind.

Fans, nerds, parents, and anyone sick and tired of the way women are often erased in the media fired back at Target for the glaring misstep.



Aaaaand Target offered a tepid response.


But as of this writing, the shirt is still available for purchase on their site.

This story is bigger than a child's T-shirt. The issue of "female erasure" is all too common.

Contributions from women are overlooked or ignored altogether, and sadly, it often happens in toys and media targeted to children. Especially when the toys are considered "boy toys" because of a weird assumption that boys won't wear or play with things featuring female characters.

Earlier in 2015, two different "Avengers: Age of Ultron" toy sets made headlines for replacing Black Widow with Captain America on the motorcycle that she rides in the movie. Poof! Gone! She wasn't even invited to the party!

Merchandise for "Guardians of the Galaxy," another Marvel property, was also widely criticized for purposefully removing the sole female Guardian, Gamora, from the team.

Photo by iStock.

It's also a little disheartening to see Target, who abandoned gender-based signage in the toy area in favor of an all-inclusive shopping experience, erase Princess Leia from her own story. It bears repeating: C'mon Target!

It benefits all kids to see dynamic, active, adventurous female characters in their stories.

For example, one study found that, across 333 speaking characters shown in professional roles in G-rated films, 80.5% were men and 19.5% were female. The fact that merchandise would then erase those roles when it comes time to make the toy set or T-shirt is just insulting — not to mention it sets a harmful example for what it means to be a woman on a team.

Parents are begging for alternatives to Barbie and princesses for their daughters. What will it take to get Hollywood and retailers to listen?

Photo by iStock.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

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"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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A few years a go, American singer-songwriter Yebba Smith shared a solo a capella version of a part of "Bridge Over Troubled Water," in which she just casually sits and sings it on a bed. It's an impressive rendition on its own, highlighting Yebba's soulful, effortless voice.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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