13 Actual Life Lessons The Women Of 'Star Wars’ Can Teach You

When I was younger, Princess Leia was one of my idols. When my male cousins and little brother would bring out their boxes of action figures, I could always fit right in with my Princess Leia toy and would usually wind up telling everyone else how the plot of our toys' adventures would unfold. I wasn't bossy — I was the boss, and the same could be said for Leia. Powerful, intelligent, and endowed with some truly weird hairstyles, she's one of the few artifacts of my childhood I still feel OK about loving. And, with the introduction of several rich, female characters in The Force Awakens, Leia is now, finally, not the only Star Wars woman who can impart important life lessons.

In fact, I'd argue that even the more underdeveloped female characters from this series can offer some solid wisdom. Folks have historically written off Stars Wars as a male-centric series, and a lot of that has to do with the undeveloped, subpar female characters who wind up making huge sacrifices for the male protagonists. Yet even still, these moms, aunts, and love interests can teach you plenty of life lessons about the pitfalls of the patriarchy and the problematic attitudes our culture holds towards women. Here are some of the biggest life lessons the women of Star Wars can teach:

1. Do What You Have To Do To Get By

Rey, the hero of The Force Awakens, lives out in the middle of nowhere and does what she has to do to survive, which can be taxing, lonely, and disparaging at times. Ultimately, she gives zero f*cks about what other people think and does her the best she can to get by.

2. It Doesn't Matter Where You're From, But Where You're Going

Rey's poverty and isolation doesn't make her less capable of getting the job done and saving the day. In fact, these struggles have made her faster, stronger, and smarter than the people around her.

3. Recognize When It's Time To End A Toxic Relationship

I'm looking at you Padmé. It's hard to watch someone you love spiral into a violent, self-harming pattern, but you also gotta take care of yourself. While I'm not a fan of the prequels from the early millennium, this story arc always hits a nerve.

4. Don't Be Afraid Of Calling Out Your Friends

Princess Leia is all about telling Luke and Han when they're wrong, and you're allowed to do the same.

5. You Don't Have To Be A Saint

Maz Kanata is a smuggler and pirate, two labels which come with plenty of baggage. If Star Wars teaches us anything, it's that outlaws are often the most brazen and wise — Kanata definitely checks out on this front. Han Solo turns to her when he's in need of wisdom, after all. So while you shouldn't be doing anything really bad, don't think that having some vices makes you not a good person.

6. Take Up As Much Space As You Want

My favorite character from The Force Awakens is Captain Phasma. She's just stomping around and running the big-bad show like an HBIC. I'm obsessed.

7. Not All Relationships Work, But They Don't Always Have To End Badly

As a child of divorced parents, I felt a little morose about the state of Han and Leia's relationship in the newest movie. My head knows that marriage is an institution that doesn't always work, but my heart still wants to believe that people always stay together forever (thanks, Disney). I found the dynamic between Han and Leia at this point in the story real, heartfelt, and sad, but it also showed how much two people can still care for each other when their marriage ends.

8. It's OK To Prioritize Your Career Over Your Love Life

Case and point: Padmé should've picked Naboo over Anakin. Girl had a whole society to rule, and she chose some whiny Jedi wannabe? Come on.

9. When Possible, Work For Peace

Mon Mothma is all about finding strategies that result in minimal harm, which is usually the best course of action when you're leading a group of people.

10. Don't Let Anyone Judge You For What You Wear

When Carrie Fisher faced criticism for Princess Leia's gold bikini costume, she responded like a badass and told The Wall Street Journal that parents can just explain to their children "that a giant slug captured me and forced me to wear that stupid outfit, and then I killed him because I didn’t like it. And then I took it off. Backstage." More like Princess SLAY-a, am I right?

11. Aging Is No One's Business, Either

Fisher is the queen of promotional tours, and she doesn't take any crap from anyone while she's on them. When critics began commenting on her appearance, Fisher responded by tweeting:

As if I needed another reason to love her.

12. You Don't Have To Be A Martyr To Be Strong

So many women in the Star Wars films are there as doomed plot devices intended to give male characters richer emotional lives. Aunt Beru and Shmi Skywalker both fall into this category, but they perhaps serve as lessons on what not to do in real life — be a selfless person, yet without your own sense-of-self.

13. There's Always A Way Out Of The Trash Compactor

I'm at the end of my first year of grad school and am feeling the squeeze of final projects, work, and my creative life at the same time, so the image of the trash compactor from A New Hope is definitely on my mind. I'm taking a cue from Leia and recognizing that I can depend on my community to help me finish the semester and make my great escape, whether it's a late night studying in a buddy's studio or a bottle of wine over a quick dinner with a classmate.

If the women of Star Wars prove anything, it's that there's more than one way to use the force.

Images: Giphy; Walt Disney