“Someone has to save our skins. Into the garbage chute, fly boy.” ~ Princess Leia Organa
Sometimes I forget that I was lucky growing up in the decade I did, that despite some things that had not evolved yet, or progressed, I was still a young girl coming of age in an era where feminism was prevalent in the popular culture. Maybe not in everything, but in spaces that impacted me at what they like to call an impressionable age. Though the fairy tale princesses were around, and Barbie and her ridiculous plastic body was in every toy aisle, we had Wonder Woman and Nancy Drew and Charlie’s Angels (yes, one could argue the title, and some of what it meant, but come on, they kicked ass). And, most of all, we had Princess Leia Organa.
“Stay afraid, but do it anyway. What’s important is the action. You don’t have to wait to be confident. Just do it and eventually the confidence will follow.” ~ Carrie Fisher
Leia was not the kind of princess that waited dead, or in a sleep of death, for some anonymous prince to come kiss her awake. She did not sing about someday a prince coming for her. She wasn’t waiting around to be saved. She did not really need rescuing. She was a leader, a fighter, a rebel, and she also loved big. She rescued others and fought beside her friends, and those fighting for the cause she believed in. She loved others. She fell in love. But, she never lost who she was. She became a general. She became a mother. She became a hero. She definitely helped write the blueprint of my life and what I believed to be possible.
As a young girl who was scared and shy and dealing with a lot of painful things in her life, Leia was my go-to to help imagine myself stronger, to help pretend that I was a rebel, a leader, a fighter, a hero. Oh, and on a superficial note, she had dark hair and eyes, like me. She was who I looked up to, who I aspired to be like, and along with music, the character of Leia helped me survive my life.
“I always thought that I wanted to form an alliance rather than have a relationship – find someone who you fancy as your counterpart. But a counterpart you go to war with, a complement you live with. So this is my new theory.” ~ Carrie Fisher
Later on, in the late 80’s, I discovered her writing. “Postcards from the Edge” hit me on a personal level, and I reread it multiple times. As a theater student in college I used part of the book for a monologue for an audition because the book meant so much to me. As years went by, and Carrie became more and more outspoken about her life, her addictions, her struggles with mental illness, I felt more impacted by her, and not just this character she once played. Her honesty, her humor, her persistence, and the way she seemed to be so unapologetically herself, was inspiring. She seemed to push back if the world didn’t accept her, she challenged beauty standards and spoke out about her life in a way that made so many of us not feel so alone.
“We treat beauty like an accomplishment, and that is insane. Everyone in LA says, “Oh you look good,” and you listen for them to say you’ve lost weight. It’s never “How are you?” or “You seem happy!”’ ~ Carrie Fisher
She was my hero as a little girl, and remained my hero as a grown up girl. She taught me to tell the world to fuck off if I needed to, to be myself and no one else, and to persist despite challenges, to not hide my flaws as if ashamed or embarrassed by them, and to love big. She was outspoken about body image and beauty, and beauty standards, and how even when we want to buck against them, they are in us, and we struggle (especially living here in Los Angeles). And, she was one of a few inspiring people who made me want to write, and be a writer, and helped to remind me to keep writing.
“I don’t want to be thought of as a survivor because you have to continue getting involved in difficult situations to show off that particular gift, and I’m not interested in doing that anymore.” ~ Carrie Fisher
I am beyond sad that she has left this world, but I am beyond grateful that she gifted us her presence, her roles, her writing, her wit and her outspoken nature. It helped me to become who I am today, and I will always look back at her words she spoke and wrote, and that iconic character she played, when I need to feel stronger, to keep going, to be inspired, and to remember to be exactly who I am.
“I am a spy in the house of me. I report back from the front lines of the battle that is me. I am somewhat nonplused by the event that is my life.” ~ Carrie Fisher
Thank you, Carrie Fisher, for being in the universe, for being you, for existing in my lifetime.