Carrie Fisher may have been the iconically powerful Princess Leia, but the 60-year-old actress was also an incredible woman outside of her most famous character. While her role as Princess Leia shouldn't be undercut, Carrie Fisher's real-life power lay in her voice. Fisher spoke out against beauty standards for women that were unfair, outdated, and frankly effed up. She was an encourager of women to not see beauty as an accomplishment, to always go forth in the world with confidence, and fight against those who want to place women in quaint boxes.
Perhaps one of Carrie Fisher's most iconic moments of fighting against the beauty standards imposed on women comes from when she was made to wear the now infamous "slave Leia" costume in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. In a 1983 interview with Rolling Stone, Fisher explained that despite her character's ability to showcase the softer side of her personality, she still had to do so in the confines of men's fantasies about women. She said, "In Return of the Jedi, she gets to be more feminine, more supportive, more affectionate. But let's not forget that these movies are basically boys' fantasies. So the other way they made her more female in this one was to have her take off her clothes."
In 2015, Disney made the decision to pull Princess Leia merchandise which features her in the infamous gold bikini after a man complained about having to explain the costume to his daughter. Obviously, Fisher was not pleased with this decision. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, she explained that a father concerned about telling his daughter the meaning of the costume should have a simple answer. Fisher stated, "Tell them 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." It was Fisher's outspoken stance on the decision that saw her fighting the male-centric fantasy beauty image of slave Leia.
Fisher was able to the fight against fantasy image of her character by acknowledging the problematic nature of the outfit and how Leia's badassery didn't weaken because of her exposed body. While Fisher has obviously been outspoken regarding her dislike of the costume, she didn't want to sweep it under the rug or ignore the way the ideal image of Leia was placed on her. She carried that message to Star Wars: The Force Awakens co-star Daisy Ridley. In an interview between the two women, Fisher told Ridley, "You keep fighting against that slave outfit." I think Fisher's sentiment for Ridley has larger implication than just simply the clothes female characters could be forced to wear.
The bigger implication of Fisher's resistance to the slave costume is just a smaller example of her larger fight about unreasonable beauty standards. It's a fight she had to unfortunately confront very clearly during press for The Force Awakens. Conversations about whether or not Fisher aged well and about her weight ran rampant during her press interviews. Fisher, however, being as fierce and outspoken as ever didn't shy away from the conversations.
Shortly before the wide release of The Force Awakens, Fisher took to her Twitter account to put those arguing over how "well" she aged on blast for lack of a better word. Fisher told critics — and by extension everyone — that her body is not who she is — that her mind has aged just fine, thank you. She explained that her body is just the vessel through which she says and sees things. She encouraged women with only a few simple tweets to remember that they are not their bodies.
Since Fisher's death on Tuesday, a quote has been making the rounds on social media. It's a quote that actually comes from these very moments in which she's clapping backing at critics of her looks. She wrote on her Twitter, "Youth and beauty are not accomplishments. They're the temporary, happy byproducts of time and/or DNA. Don't hold your breath for either."
Fisher's legacy may be entrenched in her role as Princess Leia Organa in the Star Wars franchise, but it goes far beyond that in her life as an actor. As an outspoken, unapologetic women, Fisher taught women everywhere that they are more than the beauty standards to which they're held, and that they should always, always confront those standards and tell them to back the eff down.