The Force Awakens is a touchstone cultural moment that’s sparked plenty of discussion and it’s no surprise that one of the topics would be the way the public is criticizing Carrie Fischer’s appearance. It’s thirty years after the forced slavery of the gold bikini and apparently we’re supposed to be upset that the public is upset that Princess Leia looks old in the new Star Wars. My feminists friends have defended her and say she looks great and Carrie Fischer herself has said it’s unfair that women in Hollywood aren’t allowed to age, but I think everyone is missing the point.
Princess Leia in The Force Awakes looks old. She looks like a grandmother. She looks like a non-threatening old lady. That’s an oxymoron, by the way, but people usually want old ladies to have no agency or power.
No one can fathom that Fischer herself is only 59 when she comes across as 78-years old in the new movie. She’s dressed like a wealthy elderly aunt. Leia stands around and makes statements with moist eyes made extra brown and eyelashy in post so that she might resemble a German Shepherd puppy. Her hair is still fussy, like when she was a princess, and other characters remark with amusement that she’s not a princess anymore, she’s a general.
Really? She’s a general?
Where is her Patton moment?
We know she was the type of girl who uses a blaster to escape prison, strangle mob boss Jabba with her bare hands, shout orders–she is a bad ass. That’s why we love her. It’s why we love Rey. A young prince with these inclinations, who would rise to the level of general, would be a battle-hardened asshole thirty years on. He’d be Orson Welles chomping a cigar and delighting in his fat belly as he shouts at naive recruits and kills a hundred storm troopers with one shot. He’s Henry VIII strutting and murdering and cock-of-the-walk.
That we all expect Princess Leia to be a wise grandmotherly type under circumstances of endless war is profound sexism. Instead of defending her for “looking great for her age” we should demand she look like shit! We should expect a huge facial scar and a shaved head. Fussy hair and white clothing in *battle*?
Carrie Fisher herself should have demanded it. Instead of losing 35 lbs they should have padded her with fat and given her agency and monologue about losing too many people. Here’s the speech I would have written for her, General Leia speaking to Rey:
War makes you hard, Rey. Are you sure you’re ready for that? I lost my son and my planet and a thousand other things to this fight. We’re going to win. I know that. Even if everything I love dies it will be worth it to destroy the bastards who took it away from me. If they slice my throat I will drown them in my blood. Are you ready for that?
I don’t know.
Maybe there’s another way. Maybe I wasn’t strong enough. Maybe you can finish what we started.
She could have looked like this: