If you know me at all, you know Star Wars had a very big impact on my life. Like, no joke, I learned to spell with lessons like “R is for Rancor.” But for all the influential aspects of Star Wars, what shaped me the most as a person was Carrie Fisher’s Princess Leia.
Leia taught me it was not only possible but essential for women to be brave, stubborn, unafraid, and self-reliant… and watching her on the big screen made it easier to recognize and value those traits in women I knew in real life– my mom, my grandma, my aunts, my teachers, friends, and (much, much later) girlfriends.
Carrie Fisher’s all-time iconic performance showed me a woman who stood shoulder to shoulder with men as an equal… a woman who didn’t need rescuing… a woman who could be strong and independent while remaining decidedly feminine… and Leia’s lessons stuck with me.
For a lot of folks my age (dudes especially) Carrie Fisher was their first crush. She was something different to me. Princess Leia was the character who first taught me that women are– first and foremost– people, and should never be treated differently or considered less than.
I learned that lesson as a little kid watching Leia… and it’s become one of my most essential core values, something that shapes my outlook on the world and influences nearly every decision I make. I’ve never been big on labels, but ‘feminist’ is one of the few that I wear proudly, and will always answer to.
That all started thanks to Carrie Fisher. She sparked it in me, even before I was old enough to realize it. I will be forever grateful to her for that.