As I’ve before mentioned, I was obsessed with Princess Leia as a child. I apparently drew nothing but stick figures of her for about a year; I distinctly remember moving into the house I grew up in and getting excited because I could pretend the shelf configuration in my bathtub/shower was a spaceship like Princess Leia might make use of. I don’t really remember most of this, or what started it, but I assume I saw a movie that was mostly full of dudes and went “oh, this girl is incredible I want to be her please,” because that is the story of my life.
And now I’m a grown-up, as I’ve mentioned, here is Leia, now a General (how freaking cool is that), strategizing and continuing to be incredible and prompting thousands of words of tumblr meta, and it turns out that Carrie Fisher is also a super giant badass, talking openly and honestly about her mental illness in a way that I, as a person who also has mental illness though not the same one, find incredibly inspiring. And I just feel really lucky, because although I kind of forgot about her for many years, I’ve grown up with Leia and she’s probably had a very positive influence on me. I admire her as a tactician, a woman with palpable feelings, a feminist badass who weaponizes her intelligence and her femininity and men’s attempts at debasing her, as so many things.
I was in grade school when Episode I was released, and though I realize know that it is not a particularly good film, I was also obsessed with Queen Amidala, Padmé. I remember standing in my hallway repeatedly shouting some of her lines trying to sound like her. I remember having a party where my friends and I were on teams and tried to recreate her outfits with bedsheets (I, as the hostess, did not actually get to compete and instead stood in the back of all of the photos we took with sheets designating me as a handmaiden).
I’m pretty sure part of it was OOH SHE IS ROYALTY SHE IS SO COOL, but what I’m glad I’ve seen others since articulate on the internet is that she, despite deserving so much better and not having been written well really at all, is that she really is cool. She’s a politician like her daughter after her, and she can handle herself in a fight, and I’m sure what got me when I was a kid was that she was ridiculously femme while doing all of these things. I appreciate ass-kicking, but I also appreciate pretty dresses. It’s shallow but it’s true. I always feel more comfortable claiming the girls who do things like that, because, well, it’s stupid, but the ones who kick more literal ass I usually don’t feel like I deserve to claim them because I’m not that way. Padmé was the kind of badass that I could hope to be, maybe. Or something like that. And it doesn’t hurt that Natalie Portman is gorgeous and also brilliant.
And now we have Rey. Rey who is spirited and lovely and I just want to wrap her up in blankets and give her cocoa, Rey who’s a little more androygnous than her predecessors but that’s important in a different way because her femininity is never made issue of. Padmé was badass in a feminine context, Leia’s original badassery was somewhat in spite of femininity and misinterpretations of it (the Huttslayer business), Rey is badass in a way that has nothing to do with her potential femininity. And Rey is ridiculously important.
Rey and Leia also have a relationship now, which is something we haven’t seen much of before. Rey also had a Bechdel pass with Maz Kanata, so that’s cool. Rey is amazing. And Daisy Ridley is also amazing.
And… yeah. I think the point here is just, gosh, I feel lucky to have and have had these fictional women in my life.
–your fangirl heroine.