“I tell my younger friends that no matter how I go, I want it reported that I drowned in moonlight, strangled by my own bra.” – Carrie Fisher, Wishful Drinking (2008)
Nothing quite encapsulates the razor sharp wit, the uninhibited humor, and sheer candid personality that was Carrie Fisher than that quote from her book.
It stemmed from a conversation with George Lucas, which she recounted in her memoir. George tells her she can’t wear a bra under her white Leia costume as he put it,”Because. . . there’s no underwear in space.” She expands on it, based on what George described would happen to a woman wearing in bra in space: “What happens is you go to space and you become weightless. So far so good, right? But then your body expands??? But your bra doesn’t—so you get strangled by your own bra. Now I think that this would make for a fantastic obit.”
I like to think that Carrie envisioned something similar happening to George Lucas when he told her she had to wear the infamous gold bikini years later.
She was obviously more than just the princess she played on screen. Yes, she probably was the first princess we encountered growing up who didn’t sing with birds, but instead shot up Stormtroopers with scruffy looking nerfherders. And of course we remember her for that role, an empowered woman who lead not just one but two militias in rebellion.
But she was so many more things to us. Beyond an accomplished author, writer, and script doctor; she was the woman who talked openly about the struggles of girls growing up with unrealistic standards of beauty. I remember an interview with her, talking about how she felt so vulnerable about her weight while first filming Star Wars, fearing that at any time they’d give the part to (the thinner) Jodie Foster, particularly when they were getting her harnessed up for the swing across the gap in the Death Star. I was a teenager at the time, struggling with my own self-image and eating disorders, and there she was openly decrying Hollywood’s own unhealthy addiction to appearances.
She continued the public discourse about casting and weight, even leading up to The Force Awakens release, talking about how even for her to reprise the role of Leia, she was pressured to lose over 35 pounds, as she discussed in an interview with Good Housekeeping UK, as though they could cast anyone else. “‘They don’t want to hire all of me – only about three-quarters! Nothing changes: it’s an appearance-driven thing. I’m in a business where the only thing that matters is weight and appearance. That is so messed up.” She even made a joke about it in an interview with Stephen Colbert: “The fourth can’t be with me.”
Moreover, it was she who would candidly and openly discuss her own demons of mental illness and addiction in public. Her semi-autobiographical novel, Postcards from the Edge, gave us all insight into her struggles with addiction back in 1987, and the struggle to put your life back together again with the specter of this mental illness lingering.
Her 2008 memoir, Wishful Drinking, opened up that conversation more, along with her one-woman show and her appearances in interviews and on specials like Stephen Fry’s The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive. She candidly revealed her struggles with mental illness (bipolar disorder) and the self-medication to handle the ups and downs of manic depression. What Carrie gave all of us who struggled with mental illness was permission to talk about it, to see ourselves as separate from our affliction, to not be ashamed of the invisible illness that lurked within. I didn’t know I too shared that demon with her, but her candidly discussing her own struggles helped me figure out my own.
For those of us who found her as Leia and came to admire her as Carrie, she empowered us to face the realities of our situations, she armed us with humor and wit and permission to be ourselves. She gave us an example of what facing our demons could look like: it wasn’t always perfect, but we could always move forward. She helped lead a rebellion against the darkness and the ugliness within ourselves.
Our deepest and most sincere condolences to those near and dear to Carrie. We remember Carrie Fisher as the courageous, candid, open and brilliant woman she was, in the spirit of that sharp humor she brought with her.
How do you remember Carrie Fisher? Share your stories of how she or her work connected with you in comments below.
Featured Image Credit: Lucasfilm
Blog Image Credits: Lucasfilm & Simon & Schuster Publishing