I didn’t grow up with Star Wars. In fact, I just saw my first Star Wars movie about a week ago and it doesn’t even have the real Carrie Fisher in it. Most of the things I know about Star Wars I learned from the Family Guy parody episodes. What I do know is that Carrie Fisher’s Leia Organa was really fucking badass. She wasn’t a helpless princess, she was a strong fighter, she was feisty, she took charge of her journey, she was a fearless leader. I’m sure she showed a generation of nerd women that they too could hold a place in nerd culture that was more than just eye candy.
Carrie Fisher herself was so freaking cool. She openly talked about her struggles with bipolar disorder. Her kind of frankness is what helps normalize mental illness discussions, showing pride in what one has overcome and not shame in what has held one back. She has long been outspoken with her mental health issues, never shying away from discussing it in the spotlight. She didn’t hesitate to call Hollywood out on the sexist expectations held of her, whether it was being asked to lose weight at 19 or 59. She warned Daisy Ridley to fight for her Star Wars wardrobe, denouncing her brass bikini.
My senior year of high school, I played a tiny role in our drama department’s yearly (sort of) crowd-sourced play. I think our director just chose me by chance, I was just standing around when it happened, drowning in long brown hair and nowhere to be. I was cast as Princess Leia in a dream sequence where I purposely and incestuously kiss my brother. I ran across the stage in my junior year prom dress and hefty cinnamon roll buns. Looking back on it, I’m kind of honored that I got to be even a tenth as cool as Carrie Fisher if only for less than five minutes. *