I grew up a tomboy. My mother and I often reminisce how at the age of four I informed her that Prince Charming and knights in shining armor weren’t real. That I said it in anger. I remember somewhere in that time frame coming to understand or realizing that the only knights in shining armor we had in the world were the ones we become. And yea, me at four or five years old wanted to be all that. Fuck being the princess. I was going to be the knight and the Prince Charming that saved princesses. To this day I still remember standing on that picnic table in our backyard stationed in Alaska that summer making that decision. I was not going to be a helpless princess.
Up to that point all I had were the Disney movies to define the word for me. Star Wars changed that for me. And it changed for me on a deeply profound level. Seeing Princess Leia on the big screen resonated within the fibers of my being. She had fire and she wielded her anger with purpose and focus. She helped people for the greater good. Yeah, she loved too but on her terms. We were still living in Alaska when I first saw the scene of her killing Jabba after he had been such a creep. It was odd that even though I was too young at the time to fully understand the implications behind everything in that scene but… HE LICKED HER (bleeeeehhehhhhhhh *shudder*) and she didn’t want him to and I understood THAT. And then she kicked his ass! Out of all the messages out there I got from the media that one struck me the most powerful and stuck with me my entire lifetime. My body. My rules. And you don’t own me.
I have Carrie Fisher to thank for that. She is the one that brought that character to life. She is the one that put fire and spunk into that being. She is the one that redefined princess for me. I could still be amazingly beautiful without being weak. I can fall into a sewer, hold my shit together, get dirty, save the day, and still hold my head high. Why? Because leaders get shit done. The beauty came from the work, not from the focus on being pretty. I don’t know maybe I’m just a pragmatic angry type of soul. But the older I got the more I valued this character and the more I valued the actor behind it.
I learned about her struggles with alcohol and drugs. Her struggles with weight. Her struggles with Bipolar. Heck I seem to recall reading somewhere that she had a collection of vintage doll houses and being fascinated by that. I honestly don’t know if that collection is even real. Back then it was just all random trivia to me that became the “princess behind the princess” if you will. Her advocacy for all of it was something I appreciated even though back then I thought it had nothing to do with me. It was the fact that she was candid about all of it. She was passionate yet not in your face with it. There came a point in her life where she made a decision. She chose to stand tall before the world and refused to allow anyone to define her. No one would tell her what her beauty was. No one would tell her what her womanhood was. No one would tell her what her mind was. The path she took for her wellness and her career was the one she forged herself.
Once again she defined the word princess for me. And when I was diagnosed with Bipolar it took on new meaning. I’ve learned something as I’ve grown up watching her over the years. There is no weakness or helplessness to be found here as a princess. That’s not the issue. I see only a real person that burned with a fire of conviction and courage whenever I look at her. It’s my hope that I too carry the same flame. But I don’t have to be a princess to forge my path. It’s completely okay for me to be that stubborn knight in shining armor. I’d be lying though if I didn’t say I’d love to wear a crown like hers.
I’m really sad to see her go.