Once upon a time, there was a princess.
She didn’t live in a castle, or sit around waiting for her handsome prince to come rescue her. Sometimes—okay, a lot of times—she rescued the prince.
This princess carried a blaster, didn’t give in to bullies (even when they were much much bigger), or abusers who kept her in chains, and refused to take shit from anyone. She fell in love like any woman, became a mother, and became a General. Her day job was leading a rebellion, and fighting to bring freedom to a universe that hadn’t been free in a long time.
On screen everyone called her Leia. Off screen, her friends and family called her Carrie. Carrie was as much of a badass as Leia, just as independent and just as outspoken. But she wasn’t a princess, she wasn’t prefect, and when she made a mistake, or her brain chemicals screwed with how she related to the world, she owned up to it. She didn’t try to hide the fact she was growing older, or try to pretend she was anything other than what she was. That in and of itself is pretty badass. And brave.
Back to the princess with a blaster. She rubbed off on the little girls and the grown women who saw her both on screen, and in real life. This princess was strong and her own person and that sends a message that other women can be strong too. Just because you’re the princess doesn’t mean you have to sit around and wait to be rescued.
Before long the take-no-prisoners princess wasn’t just named Leia. At times her name was Caitlin, or Iris, Stephanie or Anna. Other times her name was Kelly, Sarah, Rae, Jodi, Fran or Amanda. Lynne and Jaime had their turns being the princess. So did Betty, Kimberly, Laura Anne, Jennifer, and a thousand thousand other girls and women.
Story is a powerful, powerful thing. Role models—even flawed and deeply human role models—have story beat hands down.
Once upon a time, there was a princess. And when she drowned in moonlight (strangled by her own bra) a thousand thousand women cried. Some of us cried a lot.
And if you can’t understand why—I don’t know what to say to you.