How do I wrap my head around the passing of a woman who meant so much to me? A woman I never met outside of her movies, books and interviews? It feels like losing that Aunt you look forward to seeing every year at Christmas. The one who speaks truth no matter who it offends, who believes in you no matter what crazy dreams you want to pursue. The one who has had the kind of life people only live in books.
Growing up I had two women I could look up to in my vast consumption of media. Two women who had agency and courage. Two women who were Heroes.
Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher)
Wonder Woman (Lynda Carter)
I’d memorized every line of the original Star Wars trilogy. To this day I can tell you where the laser disc stopped and you had to switch it out for the next one. It was always assumed that my youngest brother was the Star Wars fanatic. But no one seemed to notice how little I protested when he wanted to watch one of them for the thousandth time.
Princess Leia was beautiful, brave, and smart. She didn’t take any shit from anyone, even Darth Vader! She stood up to the Empire all alone on the Death Star even though it cost her planet, she shot a blaster, and she killed a Hut.
Carrie Fisher was a lot like Princess Leia, but she was also more. She was funny, man was she ever! Her self deprecating humor was brilliant, and when she wasn’t lampooning herself, her barbed wit was dead on. She was a little filthy, and she didn’t care who it offended. She had demons who drove her into the ground, but she got back up again and again. She was intelligent and driven.
Her critics threw it all in her face. Her mental health problems, her drug and alcohol abuse, and the way age changed her body. I’m sure it hurt, I’m sure that there were many times she was deeply wounded by the things people said.
But Ms. Fisher didn’t let that stop her. No way! Like the role she’d immortalized, Carrie Fisher kept going. She found a way and in the end came out stronger, more brilliant and admired than any of her detractors. In other words: She spun the shit they flung at her into solid gold.
Her honesty about her flaws, and her struggles with mental health and drug and alcohol abuse was incredibly brave. She spoke about these things at a time when no one dared; especially a celebrity. Her honesty helped take the shame off of these issues so that we could all see the beauty of broken humanity.
One of the things I loved so much, was how she embraced the changes hard living and age had brought to her body. She turned the criticism of her appearance around onto those who spoke against her, skillfully illuminating the bullshit of ageism.
I first fell in love with Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia, but since I’ve grown to admire her as herself; warts and all. Because she showed me something to strive for: the courage and beauty of accepting yourself.
She left us way too soon, but at least while she lived, she lived as herself not who others wanted her to be. And that is something to celebrate. Something to emulate.
I don’t know this for sure, but I would imagine there were many times she was tempted to lay down and stop. Who would’ve blamed her?
She didn’t seem capable of doing that, though. Carrie Fisher always got back up, she always seemed to go for it, even if the effort wasn’t graceful or couth. I admire that too.
And so, this year, 2017, I am trying to tackle some things that scare and exhilarate me. And I may be tempted to give up. But when I am, when I may want to give in to fear, or pain or any number of things, I think what I’ll do instead is take a deep breath, give those obstacles the middle finger and blast them to hell.
Because I think that’s what Carrie Fisher would do.
What does this awesome woman mean to you? Did you ever meet her? Leave a comment below to continue the conversation. Or find me via my Facebook page. I’d love to hear from you!
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