Let me wear my ‘girly’ fandom shirts, please

Everybody who knows me well knows that I’m a big fan of the “Sailor Moon” franchise.

It’s something that I don’t mention much, but when I hear someone talk about it in the open, my ears perk up and my heart skips a beat. It’s impossible to explain just how important Naoko Takeuchi’s work is to my life.

Before we went on summer break, the Japanese clothing retailer, UNIQLO, made an announcement that rocked my solar system – they were releasing a collaboration between Takeuchi and the retailer.

The designs they released for the announcement were unlike anything I’ve ever seen for merchandise relating to the series. They were vibrant, unique, and a much more accurate depiction of the series’ aesthetic than all the generic stuff you’d find in a GameStop.

Needless to say, I was beyond excited for the release at the end of August.

When I walked into the UNIQLO in the Natick Mall at the end of September, during a brief moment of free time, I got to browsing around in a frenzy, looking for the merch I’ve longed to put on my body.

That excitement quickly turned into sadness when I looked at the display in the men’s section of the store and saw: nothing.

I looked to the opposite side of the store, the women’s section, and found the clothing I longed for.

The feeling of defeat began to set in. It reminded me of the time when Hot Topic made a similar announcement in 2012, only to experience the same level of agitation when men’s clothes were not part of the line.

Now, I understand that “Sailor Moon” is a series that puts a great deal of emphasis on topics of female empowerment and the importance of sisterhood, and that’s all well and good, of course, but what UNIQLO doesn’t understand is people of all gender backgrounds adore the series, not just female-identifying individuals.

It has been this way since the late ’90s, ever since the first “Sailor Moon” fan pages were made on the internet, oftentimes with male-identifying staff members at the helm of those pages, in terms of gathering information straight from Japan.

Heck, you can even say that “Sailor Moon” snuck out of its intended demographic even earlier than that, thanks to the many video games released for the series in its initial run, especially the 1994-released “Sailor Moon S” fighting game for the Super Famicom – the Japanese Super Nintendo – which still has a competitive scene filled with male-identifying players to this day.

The point of this op/ed is not to shame the female-identifying fans of the series – absolutely not – but, rather, the clothing manufacturers who think women are the only kind of people who like the series, even though it has not been that way for a little over 20 years.

Though other industries are “getting with the times” with how they market their products or franchises, “Sailor Moon” has, honestly, yet to do the same. That saddens me.

Until that day comes, though, I guess this means I have to look back at the clothing offerings in anger … and picture how I’d look in a crop top, should I become desperate enough.

Yeesh.

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