Inspired by Princess Leia

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V4pdaAnyone who knows me pretty well knows that I am a major Star Wars geek. I’m talking about the first, original trilogy (Star Wars IV, V, and VI), not the newer series with Anakin, Padme, and (shudder) Jar Jar Binks.

I was eleven when I first saw Star Wars in the theaters (and by this I mean “Star Wars IV: A New Hope”). This movie blew me away. It blew away a lot of people actually, and played in movie theaters all summer long, with lines around the block. My dad took my brother and me to see it about six times during its theatrical run (because that was the only way to see it—there were no VCRs or DVD players back in the Stone Age).

Why did I love Star Wars so much? Well, in addition to the amazing light saber battles, the awesome special effects, the all-around evilness of Darth Vader, and that amazing opening shot with the huge Imperial Cruiser, it had one of the coolest heroines I’d ever seen in the movies.

Princess Leia. (Or should I say, Princess/Senator Leia Organa).

She might have been a princess, but she didn’t act like one. She had a blaster and wasn’t afraid to use it. When she was captured, she stood up to Darth Vader and Grand Moff Tarkin and insulted them. She wasn’t just someone’s girlfriend, but a character in her own right and one of the leaders of the Rebellion. I actually thought Luke was kind of a dull boyfriend for her, so I was glad that she had her own mission. And I was even gladder that she ended up with Han Solo in the second film.

Star-Wars-Movie-Poster-1977-originalI’ll admit that sometimes she was kind of bossy (“Could someone please get this great big hairy walking carpet out of my way?”) and the garbage chute decision wasn’t the best move, and there was that freaky hairdo that looked like earmuffs/cinnamon rolls stuck to her head. But I still thought she was awesome. Plus, she wasn’t squeezed into a form-fitting costume (although if you check out the original poster, it makes her costume look way more revealing than it was!). I’m not even going to get into the whole annoying slave-girl metal-bikini thing she wore in Return of the Jedi!.

Before you judge my taste in heroines, keep in mind that there weren’t a lot of strong female heroines on TV or in the movies during the late 70s. I was a big fan of the original Bionic Woman TV show, but it bothered me that Jaime Sommers was originally just Steve Austin’s girlfriend and she pretty much followed the orders of a couple of guys in the OSI. And the Disney Princesses of my childhood were nothing like Merida, Belle, or Mulan; I had Cinderella, Snow White, and Aurora (this is before the new era of Disney animated films, starting with The Little Mermaid in 1989).P5141083 leia doll

So, when the neighborhood gang got together I always chose to be Princess Leia in our Star Wars game (and because I was kind of bossy like her, I got to be her). And I owned the original Leia action figure (complete with her own mini blaster rifle) and a cool Princess Leia t-shirt. I might have also written some embarrassingly bad fan fiction (*ahem* “Diary of A Rebel Princess” *cringes*) which will stay locked in a storage bin forever.

You know what’s really cool? In 1977, I was Princess Leia for Halloween, complete with a homemade costume and my long brown hair coiled into two buns.18 years later, my daughter also went as Princess Leia for Halloween! How’s that for a long-lasting heroine?

What about you? Who was your first major TV or movie heroine?

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18 Responses to Inspired by Princess Leia

  1. This is AWESOME! A whole post about Princess Leia? I love it : )
    You’re right, her take charge attitude with it’s annoying bossiness was actually very refreshing. And these days, even though we supposedly have better female role models in cartoons and books, Leia still stands out as one of my favorites. She had heart and…gumption! That’s right, I just pulled out a word from the 50′s (or something like that). I’d have to say that my first fav TV/movie heroine was Princess Leia but these days it’s definitely Katniss Everdeen. She’s not bossy and she’s often confused but she still gets the job done.

    • casacullen says:

      Katniss is one of my favorites, as well! I’m also a big fan of Hermione (for her smarts) and Disney’s Mulan. I wish they had been around when I was a kid.

  2. My husband was/is a huge Star Wars fan. I agree that Princess L was ahead of her time in some ways. As for Disney Princesses I love Mulan (warrior equestrian) and Belle (bookish rebel). Now we need some pix of you and your daughter in costume :D

  3. I also have a strong affinity for Princess Leia. It’s also why I love the Alanna series so much. I always wanted to be a knight rather than a princess. Fun trivia fact: my parents’ first date was to see Star Wars on opening weekend. So I guess I can thank Obi-Wan in part for my existence!

  4. Jeannette says:

    Ha! This is great! I’m a Star Wars geek too. The one thing that bugs me about Leia when I watch the movies (but I’ve always forgiven her because of her otherwise-awesomeness), is that she flinches when she fires her blaster! It’s pretty hilarious, and maybe adds more appeal to her character. Great post!

    • casacullen says:

      I’ve seen Star Wars over a dozen times and I never noticed that Leia flinches. I’ll have to look for it next time!

  5. Mia Celeste says:

    Star Wars was my favorite movie growing up, but I didn’t want to be Leia. I wanted to be Luke because I like the whole force stuff. :)

    http://www.miaceleste.com/?p=323

  6. Oh how wonderful to see another Princess (with a blaster) fan!! YAY! <3 I am so with you on the whole strong heroine need! Besides, I'm proud of my geekiness. I, too, dressed as Princess Leigh for halloween….can't remember the year…daggum old age creeping in! :)

  7. Elaine Jeremiah says:

    This is a fabulous post. I really love the original Star Wars trilogy too. Princess Leia is such a cool character – I’ve always loved her and I especially enjoy the sparring that goes on particularly in the first film between her and Han Solo. :)

  8. ZOMG, I was Princess Leia for Halloween too! I loved her kick-ass attitude then and still love it now. “Don’t just stand there. Try and brace it with something!” :-)

  9. I was also 11 when A New Hope came out and Princess Leia was my favorite! I loved that she was a strong, kickass heroine and so different than anything I’d seen before then. I remember standing in line FOREVER to see it. I got a hideous sunburn, but it was totally worth it. That following Halloween, my brother dressed up as Luke and I was Leia – complete with the cinnamon roll hair! :D

    I love that my kids are now huge Star Wars nerds too – nothin’ makes a mama prouder. :D

  10. My mom likes to tell me I saw Star Wars from the womb. My family was Star Wars crazy growing up. I liked it but appreciate it even more now. I saw a post somewhere from a writer who said kids today don’t recognize references like Star Wars. That might be true of some other films, but they’re so wrong in this case. As much of a Star Wars fan as my husband is (we’ve had VCR, DVD and Blu-Ray box sets in succession), my son picked it up at daycare. We’ve only let him watch Episode IV so far, but he loves the Clone Wars cartoons. He had a Star Wars themed birthday party. He and my 3-year-old have light saber battles. So Star Wars goes down as timeless in my book.

    As far as a female heroine I liked growing up, I can’t think of one in particular as a kid, but as a teenager it was totally Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

  11. Love this! When I was 5, I had an ongoing argument with a friend over which movie we’d watch: Star Wars or The Wizard of Oz. I always fought for Oz, so…I suppose Dorothy was my first heroine (she spoke out for those who needed a voice, killed not 1, but 2 evil witches, liberated the Munchkins, and uncovered the Great and Powerful’s hoax). BUT I’d have to put my money on Leia if ever the two had to battle it out! :p

  12. Kate Michael says:

    OMG!! I was Princess Leia for Halloween too, lol! I’m a major fan :D Love this post!

  13. Kate Frost says:

    The original Star Wars films have to be amongst my all time favourite movies, how could they not be when I was born in 1977, the year of Star Wars. ;-) Princess Leia is definitely a heroine to look up to. I agree with Paula about Katniss Everdeen being a great heroine for a whole new generation.

  14. Alana Terry says:

    I think my first heroine as a girl was Charlotte Doyle from “The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle.” Like Leia- a very strong-willed, brave girl who lived a life a lot more exciting than mine!

  15. Laura Oliva says:

    YES!

    I, too, am a Star Wars geek from way back- also the original series, not the new one. Although I did dress up as Queen Amidala (in a homemade costume) and catch Episode 1 on opening day.

    Always fun to meet another fan of the greatest sci-fi series ever made. Suck it, Trekkies.

  16. Mine would probably have been Sarah from Labyrinth. As an adult looking back, I think she was a bit of a bratty teenager, but at the time I empathised with her having a rough time with her parents, and her courage and friendship. Plus I thought Jareth was hot. :p

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