Women of Courage: Princess Leia

Star Wars 8 Princess Leia

Princess Leia Organa: The Princess Who Rescued Back

“You get to choose what monsters you want to slay. I’m sorry to say this again, but let’s face it – the Force is with you.” Carrie Fisher

There are real-life courageous women and there are fictional heroines, but today it’s my pleasure to discuss a woman who is both. Princess Leia Organa of the Star Wars franchise has been inspiring moviegoers for forty years.

When the series first launched, the young princess was already leading the rebellion against the Empire. Through four decades of films, Princess Leia was a soldier, a diplomat, general, and a war hero. Though the Force was strong in her, she chose serve her people as leader instead of becoming a Jedi. And while others’ loyalties shifted, or players drifted in and out of service to the rebellion, Princess Leia remained steadfast.

Carrie Fisher (1956-2016), the actress who portrayed Leia, was courageous in her own right. The outspoken Fisher was also a fierce advocate of mental health and openly shared her own struggles with addiction and bipolar disorder. Riotously funny, she fought the stigma of mental health with fierce honesty.

How She’s Courageous

From her first appearance in the iconic buns, to the gently graying general in 2015’s The Force Awakens, Princess Leia was an unflagging champion of the rebellion. She was one of only two characters who stood up to Darth Vader—a man whose own subordinates winced and scurried at his words. Perceptive and insightful, Princess Leia could instantly size up enemy or ally,  and deliver a character indictment in one biting quip.

In the original 1977 Star Wars script, Luke and Han Solo found Princess Leia bruised, beaten, and suspended upside down. It was only when the logistics of carting around a catatonic Leia became problematic that they revised the scene. The princess gig has never been the same.

How She’s Affected Me

Princess Leia changed everything I knew about princesses. As a girl who grew up on a steady diet of Disney Princesses, I understood perfectly that princesses needed rescuing. What I didn’t know was that this one would rescue back.

That she was different was clear in the split-second it took for her to size up Luke Skywalker’s disguise.

“Aren’t you a little short for a storm trooper?” she asked, the corner of her mouth quirked in a wry smile.

Minutes later, as Luke and Han Solo’s half-conceived rescue plan crumbled before them, she snatched a blaster and declared, “Somebody has to save our skins.”

I sat a little straighter in my chair. It was 1977 and my whole perception of princesses–and women–shifted in that moment.

How She’s Affected Others

“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
Princess Leia was strong at a time when women in film weren’t strong. She was many girls’ first glimpse of a truly heroic woman (myself included). Not only was she brave, she was in control of her own destiny. She was an icon of unwavering leadership.

Carrie Fisher was deeply conscious what Princess Leia meant to women, and this integrity is reflected both in her performance and her contributions to the script and character development.

Learn More

Here’s the part where I normally include links to learn more. But in this case, I’m going to suggest you run out and buy a box set and go on a Star Wars binge. The Last Jedi is in theatres on December 15th, so there’s still time to get yourself primed for the next in the Star Wars series.

 

2 Comments

  1. peterkirsch

    I was 2 1/2 when Star Wars came out, barely 3 when I finally saw it. My lifelong perception of what “princess” means will forever be rooted in the solid foundations of Leia Organa, with a fiery Carrie Fisher propping her up.
    There is great truth in your words, perhaps more than you know.

    1. I love your perspective. That’s how it should be.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s