Goodbye Princess Leia, Thank You Carrie Fisher
I was seven years old when Star Wars was originally released in theaters. My Dad watched on his own first to make sure it wasn’t too scary and then took me to see the movie. He covered my eyes when Obi-Wan chopped off Ponda Baba’s arm because he thought I’d have nightmares. Star Wars never gave me nightmares. It gave me the power to believe a girl could do anything.
Seven-year-old me was never into traditional princesses. Disney princesses are great, but they weren’t my thing. A princess who defied Darth Vader, fired a blaster, and was on a mission to save the galaxy? Now that was my kind of princess.
I dressed up as her at Halloween in a white dress that my Mom sewed. She even made cinnabun hair with a wig and coils of yarn. It was one of my favorite costumes and it won me an award in the local Halloween costume contest. I won a popcorn popper and used that thing until if finally died when I was in college.
Today, Carrie Fisher died. This comes at the end of a year that saw a constant stream of beloved celebrities dying. They all pulled at my heartstrings, but Fisher’s death was the only one that made me cry. I read the news while I was out with my husband having lunch and ended up wiping tears from my eyes in the middle of a Mexican restaurant.
Fisher was Princess Leia to my little girl self and I wanted to be her. I wanted to be that strong and determined and smart. I wanted to do whatever I wanted even when people said it was impossible. I wanted to be on the side of good even when bad seemed all powerful.
If Princess Leia could stare down Darth Vader, choke Jabba the Hutt with the very chain that held her captive, and save the galaxy, then a girl could do anything. She proved girls didn’t need saving. Girls did the saving.
Princess Leia was a character that resonated with me as a little girl and helped make me confident. Sure, my parents had a heck of a lot more to do with me being who I am today than a character played in a movie, but Princess Leia mattered. She mattered a lot.
She was the princess I wanted to be when I grew up. I’m a stronger woman thanks to Carrie Fisher’s portrayal of Princess Leia and the world is a little darker without them.