Dear Carrie Fisher,
You strong, incredible woman.
I only came to know you and your work a couple of years ago, and how I wish I had known it sooner to have had longer to appreciate all of the incredible things you’ve done – from Star Wars, to screenplays, to your openness about your struggles with addiction and mental illness.
You were so much more than Princess Leia and General Organa. You showed women that they could be the ones to save themselves. You taught us that we could be strong, badass and that being surrounded by men doesn’t make you any less strong or badass, less of a human, less of an actor – less of anything. In your passing, you have given us an opportunity to reflect on how you made the word ‘princess’ less fragile and helpless, and how you made ‘general’ even more of a powerful word.
You were the princess who saved herself, strong during adversity. The literal chains that bound you strangled the physical manifestation of the patriarchy, of the revolting Jabba who had tied you up and dressed you in an outfit that you hated, both as a character and as a person.
Not only are your acting roles iconic, but you spoke out so much about addiction and mental illness. Your one-woman show and your Wishful Drinking memoir told of your battle with prescription drugs and cocaine, and your experience living with bipolar disorder. You didn’t shy away from talking about this – instead, you understood that those experiences shaped you and made you the person you were, and you persevered. Support was given from you to so many other causes, from animal rights to LGBT+, and you made several financial contributions to AIDS and HIV charities.
It would have been very easy for you to have talked about the issues that had affected you with self-pity and a “Why me?” attitude. Instead, you remained strong and persevered, even when you were discussing your self-loathing there was never a drop of pity to your tone. You approached the serious topics with humour, but never disrespect. You were a woman who was outspoken about her body issues and sense of self, and even though you were heralded as a sex icon in Hollywood during your youth, you were consistently outspoken about the struggles women in Hollywood face. You maintained a strong exterior and showed us that life is too short to let yourself be defined by your negative experiences.
You weren’t afraid to stand up for those who needed it – the story about you personally delivering a cow’s tongue in a Tiffany box to a predatory producer with a note saying “If you ever touch my darling Heather or any other woman again, the next delivery will be something of yours in a much smaller box,” is such a Fisher story, and women across the world are so thankful for your constant championing of our rights and for not letting abuse just happen under your nose, especially in an industry where it is all too common.
Also, I really enjoyed working out what your tweets were when I was on radio. It was a fun segment.
May the force be with you.