“Someone has to save our skins. Into the garbage chute, fly boy.”: How Princess Leia taught me how to be a feminist

As most people who know me know, I’ve always been a gigantic nerd. I was watching nerdy stuff with my mom pretty young. We didn’t always get along (read: we fought a lot) but my favourite memories with her all involve her showing me movies and TV shows she loved.

One of those movies was Star Wars. I remember once when I was little, Mom called me over and told me to find something called “Star Wars” on the shelf of doom (my nickname for the shelves of VHS tapes of movies and tv shows my parents had recorded over the years). Needless to say I loved it. I can’t remember too much from the first time I ever saw A New Hope (past me being mesmerized by it and wanting a pet Wookiee) but I do remember staring wide eyed when a bad-ass princess saved herself and sassed back at the male leads. I was so fortunate to grow up knowing there were female characters like Leia that I could look up to. To steal a phrase from my friend Andrea, she was the “self rescuing princess” I needed for a role model. Let’s just say, I wore Leia buns for a while…

She taught me that it’s okay to stand up for yourself. It’s okay to be snarky and sassy and abrasive. I suddenly didn’t have to choose between wanting to be a princess and wanting to be a hero: like Leia, I could be both.

Fast forward 19 years or so and I haven’t changed a bit (except now I wear full Leia cosplay instead of just Leia buns). Two years ago I went to go see The Force Awakens by myself (three times, but who’s counting?). I remember my reactions to that a lot more clearly (as I narrated to my girlfriend the other night when we were rewatching it) but one thing didn’t change. Just like with Leia, my eyes grew wide when Rey came on my screen. When I figured out she was the protagonist of the film I could have cried of happiness (Okay, okay, I totally did cry, but don’t tell anyone).I was so happy that a whole new generation of little girls can grow up with Rey like I did with Leia. I love seeing them cosplay her at conventions. I love seeing both little girls and boys get excited when they see her. It’s amazing and warms my Hoth-like heart.

I can’t wait to see The Last Jedi in a couple days and remember just why I love this franchise so much. It’s going to be so bittersweet now that Carrie is gone I’m prepared to cry, but I’m also prepared to grin like a fool. My girls are going to be on screen again and I don’t know if I can handle it!

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