We have lost so many people this year, many who played an intricate role in my life. David Bowie, Prince, George Michael and now Carrie Fisher. After the news of each artist’s passing I found myself wishing over and over it wasn’t true. And then I wondered why was I so affected by the death of a person I didn’t know? Other than the obvious sadness of a life lost, there was something deeper.
Each death brought forth a flood of memories of my own life. Bowie, Prince, George Michael and Carrie Fisher influenced so much of who I became and am still becoming through their talent, words, self-expression and self-ownership. But for me, Carrie Fisher was the first most influential “figure” to enter my life, without me even knowing it.
She was my first superhero when there were no female super hero’s. Her character Leia was a woman in a position of power, when as young girls, we had no real examples of strong, secure women. I don’t remember any other female action figure we had to play with other than Princess Leia. The character of Leia was self-assured, capable and held her own in a universe of men. There was little the men in Star Wars could do that she couldn’t do just as well.
She also wore clothes appropriate for action. She wasn’t dressed in a bathing suit or skin-tight battle garb, like so many of our female heroes are subjected to wear. That makes a difference to young girls, not in the sexual exploitation way, but in a way that made her equal to her male counterparts. We all wanted to be Leia, not because she was beautiful, but because she stood side by side, fighting with the men, calmly taking her shot, running through a forest, and then ultimately leading them as their General.
My admiration for Carrie Fisher grew as I did. She was so smart and fucking quick. I could watch an interview with her forever because she didn’t miss a beat. She was so authentic. That is rare in this town, actually in life. She didn’t hide who she was and was unapologetic. Another trait I think girls and women need to own more.
She was in life, who Princess Leia was on-screen. Young girls need more role models like General Leia Organa and women, like myself, need icons like Carrie Fisher.
“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, Wishful Drinking, 2008