I’m wearing a Star Wars t-shirt I’ve owned for almost 20 years and writing an obituary for Carrie Fisher, and maybe after I’m done I’ll sob out these tears that are threatening to choke me. But after that, I’ll get back up and keep fighting and keep fighting and keep fighting because that’s what Carrie Fisher taught me to do. I met Princess Leia when I was seven and needed to know a woman could be a space hero, too. I read Postcards From The Edge when I was in college and trying to give myself permission to take up space in the world. I was introduced to General Leia Organa in 2016, the year the United States elected a white supremacist misogynist to the highest office in the land. “General Leia Organa leads a brave RESISTANCE,” The Force Awakens‘ opening crawl read. General Leia.
Carrie Fisher suffered a massive heart attack on a transatlantic flight on December 23. She was given CPR on the plane and rushed the hospital when the flight landed. This morning her daughter, Billie Lourd, released a statement saying her mother had passed away. “She was loved by the world and she will be missed profoundly,” Lourd said. “Our entire family thanks you for your thoughts and prayers.”
Star Wars is responsible for her rise to stardom, and she’ll be remembered forever as Princess Leia, but during the last decade Carrie Fisher made sure that we wouldn’t be able to think about that gold bikini without acknowledging the fullness of the woman who wore it. Fisher grew up and into a hilarious, unapologetic feminist and mental health activist. She starred in blockbuster movies and critically acclaimed TV shows. She wrote and doctored scripts for dozens of beloved films. She wrote novels.
This year, she even started her own newspaper column, Advice From The Dark Side, hoping to destigmatize mental illness. It was a textbook Carrie Fisher move: In tandem with her myriad accomplishments, she refused to stay silent about her own struggles with addiction and bipolar disorder, and about the relentless pressure of the double standard women face in Hollywood. At 59-years-old, the studio insisted she lose 35 pounds before filming The Force Awakens and she didn’t think twice about sharing that information with the world.
Women grow up surrounded by so much princess imagery. Damsels in distress waiting to be rescued by a prince or a father or an 8-bit plumber. Princess Leia was a whole other thing. She took her life into her hands and set out to save herself and her people. She was her own Chosen One. And oh, she was unmanageable! “Aren’t you a little short for a stormtrooper?” she asked when Luke arrived to rescue her. “You stuck up, half-witted, scruffy-looking Nerf herder,” she snapped at her space cowboy. When Han told her he loved her, Leia simply said, “I know.” In The Force Awakens, all the men around her had failed or bolted or betrayed her. She was finally recognized as The General.
— The Rogue Astronaut (@therogue_astro) December 27, 2016
Carrie Fisher loved to laugh, and never hesitated to gently mock herself. She cherished her dog, Gary Fisher, so much. She made mistakes and she learned from them and she wrote about them and she talked about them and she just absolutely refused to stay silent. She overcame and she overcame. She succeeded against all odds. It was kind of her thing. Hope was always in scarce supply in Star Wars, but it lived in General Leia Organa and it lived in the actress who portrayed her, both powerful women who refused to apologize, both eternal leaders of The Resistance.