A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…
I was once told in my young, teen-ish days that I looked like Princess Leia. I considered the compliment wildly inaccurate. But still, it was nice to hear. Carrie Fisher who was Princess Leia has passed away. But, I’d like to add my voice to the chorus--specifically what she did for girls (and writers) everywhere.
Before Princess Leia, most princess characters were fluffy, frivolous and in desperate need of rescuing. Leia Organa turned that trope on its head. Born into royalty, Leia became a general. And, over the 39 years of Star Wars, Fisher showed those in the industry that a tough little girl who can take care of herself (thank you very much) actually resonated with movie goers worldwide. She became a perennial hero. Also due to talented writers, gritty female protagonists who made the most of their horrible situations were often box office smashes.
I'm sure this archetype inspired the writing of Disney’s movies. Heroines like “Belle” of Beauty & the Beast chose a more noble path than most characters who came before her. Like Princess Leia they chose the better path, resisted when necessary. They put themselves on the line for those they loved. They fought with brains and guts and sometimes weapons. These female characters who took chances and endured the consequences without bawling for a knight in shining armor are the types of characters to whom every girl can relate.
Besides being an actress and a writer, Carrie Fisher was called in to be a script doctor. These wizards of words were called upon by industry executives to take a screenplay and/or script and polish the piece until the director (and everyone else) is happy. She was rarely credited for any work she did in this regard.
Fisher, was also a mother, as was her character, Leia. Both the woman and the character played a rather hands-off role in the raising of their children--for a variety of reasons. There's no telling if this was a good decision. I won't make excuses for Carrie Fisher, but I know she battled addiction.
Fisher’s tough princess gives a lot of us non-princesses a role we can aspire to. Not the cleanest, mother of the year, glamour queen, but a real, down-to-earth broad, who admitted her frailties and sins and challenged herself to get better, be better. It’s the least any hero can do.
Relax Mommies, you've got this.