Why Princess Leia Was the First Princess I Introduced to My Daughter
As crowds rush out today to see The Rise of Skywalker, the final film in the latest Star Wars trilogy, I can't help but get a little misty-eyed over the thought of saying goodbye to the rebellious princess who has been a role model for my family for two generations.
As a kid, I wondered how Cinderella could gracefully waltz in glass slippers and why on earth Snow White would willingly agree to clean house for a crowd of rowdy little men. But the princess I always admired wasn't dreaming of her prince in a fairy tale castle—she was kicking ass somewhere in a galaxy far, far away.
Princess Leia was everything I aspired to be—strong and smart, ready with a wisecrack, and definitely in charge of every situation she was in. I spent hours plotting escapes from the Death Star with my Barbie-sized Princess Leia doll, or racing around the playground shooting imaginary blasters and rescuing my friends. Star Wars may be billed as a father/son story, but I think for most women of a certain age, the saga is really about a bad-ass galactic princess who saves the world, saves her guy—and makes plenty of wry and witty comments along the way.
I married a guy whose love of Star Wars eclipsed my own. And even though the new generation of Disney princesses became light years bolder and brainier than the ones I grew up with (and made much more practical fashion choices), we counted the days until we could introduce them to a real princess. And they loved her (almost) as much as we did.
My oldest donned the trademark buns for Halloween, and they memorized all the best lines as we watched the Rebels win the day, over and over again. They're growing up to be confident, self-assured young women—in no small part due to their big-screen role model and the next generation of kickass galactic girls, Rose, Rey, and Ahsoka.
But as the final trilogy comes to a close, I see all new reasons to adore my favorite princess. Her storyline through these final movies featured her dealing with things many modern moms can definitely relate to—putting that mansplaining young guy at work in his place, maintaining a romantic relationship with my mate, wondering if we're failing at this whole mom thing. (Though I feel like I'm definitely beating Leia in that department, since my kids haven't changed their names and murdered their dad.)
I'm not sure I'm ready to say goodbye yet to my favorite princess—though we know that her story ends here, since her equally bold and brash creator, Carrie Fisher, is already somewhere among the stars. But by all accounts, this final foray offers a fitting tribute to the coolest princess in the galaxies.
And I will be there to cheer her on.