What’s Wrong With An Older Princess Leia?

I love Carrie Fisher.

I love the way she folds herself up into chairs during interviews. She looks comfortable and at the same time commanding, as if she is going to sit however she wants to sit no matter where she is and there’s nothing anyone can do about it.

I love that she is open and honest about what she has been through in her life. That she’ll share stories of her addiction and her therapy treatments and her struggles in Hollywood and that she doesn’t sound bitter about it but also doesn’t sound totally resigned. Obviously it would have been easier if her life had gone a different way but it didn’t and she owns that and she is all the stronger for it.

I love that she gets into feuds with William Shatner and that she jokes around with her famous mother and that she writes fiction books that are autobiographical and biographies that feel like fiction. I love that she was Princess Leia who was ballsy and tough and often times the smartest person in the room. She was sexy and no nonsense and fully able to rescue herself most of the time (and happy to help rescue her rescuers when it was needed).

I love Carrie Fisher.

The Force Awakens Han and Leia
Carrie Fisher as Leia in Star Wars: The Force Awakens

And I don’t love how she has been treated by Star Wars fans and non-fans alike since it was announced she’d be returning for The Force Awakens. It has been over 30 years since Return of the Jedi came out and, surprise surprise, she has aged in that time. Everyone has aged in that time. I love Harrison Ford, but he looks like he’s in his 70s (that chase-on-foot scene at the end of Kingdom of the Crystal Skull looked awkward and kinda painful for all the older actors involved, honestly). And I adore Mark Hamill. He’s the only voice actor I want playing the animated version of the Joker and I had the biggest crush ever on him as Luke Skywalker back in the day. But he also looks like he is quite a bit older than he was the last time he fought the Empire and helped save the galaxy.

So why does it seem like all the negative comments about the original cast are aimed just at Carrie Fisher? Why did her part in the new film come with the requirement that she lose 35 pounds first? Why couldn’t she play 30-years-older Princess Leia at the size and shape she was, instead of a size and shape determined by filmmakers? Why do I keep seeing comments online about how old she looks, how tired she looks, how fat she looks, blah blah blah?

Carrie Fisher looks like a woman almost in her 60s looks. I get that we don’t see that very often on screen – a real woman in her real 60s playing a character in her 60s (or late 50s maybe, though we don’t really know where on the timeline the new Star Wars films picks up from the end of the last one). But age adds things to us. Wrinkles. Spots. Grey hairs. Fine lines. Saggy bits. Hairy bits. Bald bits. Bulgy bits. Thin bits.

What is wrong with seeing Princess Leia as she’d really be? Wrinkles and grey hairs and weight gain and all? What do we think she was doing over the last few decades? Running the government of the New Republic, which probably involved lots of sitting and talking and working up a proper system of government and making peace treaties and cleaning up after the Empire, or training for triathlons in order to keep her rebellion-era body? I doubt anyone ever considered popping her back in her Slave Leia bikini for The Force Awakens. So why did it matter so much what body was being popped into Princess Leia – possible government leader – costumes?

Mark Hamill was reportedly asked to lose weight for his return to Luke Skywalker in the new film, but that makes sense for his character. Jedi Knights were warriors and peacekeepers and needed to be pretty fit to keep up with all their running around, battling the Dark Side, lightsaber dueling, and escaping from sticky situations. Even older Luke would still need to be in relatively good shape. But would the same be needed for Leia, who most likely spent the last decades running the New Republic but not serving on the front lines? And while it has been publicly stated that Mark Hamill lost weight for the new film, it has not been talked about nearly as much as it has been with Carrie Fisher. How much he was told to lose, and how much he has ended up losing, are not numbers making headlines like they are with her. 

Princess Leia
Carrie Fisher as Leia in 1977

Back in the day, 19-year-old Carrie Fisher was told to lose 15 pounds in order to play Princess Leia the first time. Not that 19-year-old Carrie Fisher was particularly large to begin with. But she did it so she could get the part and run around A New Hope with no bra on and pose during Return of the Jedi in a metal and leather bikini (personally my fave Leia outfit is her cold weather gear from Hoth, which is also one of the most demure outfits she has now that I think about it).

It makes me sad and rather angry to hear that even after all of this time, little seems to have changed as far as the way actresses are treated in Hollywood. I highly doubt she’ll be running around with no bra or in a skimpy slave outfit in the new movie, so why has there been so much negative talk around Carrie Fisher’s size and shape and appearance? When the new Force Awakens trailer came out, why did people jump to put Carrie Fisher down for looking (her age) old, when Harrison Ford looks like he’s aged just as much as she has?

And really, Carrie Fisher looks great. She lost more than the 35 pounds she was required to lose and she seems happy and healthy and excited to be a part of Star Wars again. So why not, instead of lambasting her for getting older (which newsflash, we’ve all done in the last 30 years), we celebrate that new Star Wars is coming, Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia will be in it, and it’s great to see her back in the role that so many of us have loved her in for so many years? Let’s show her we still love her for the princess she was when we first met her, that we appreciate all she has been through over the last three decades, and that we’re excited to meet her all over again as the mature, older, and amazing princess she has undoubtedly become.


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Melissa Voelker

1 Comment

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  • she doesnt look 60 she looks like 80 lmao. in inteviews she looks good (with make up) but in the film she looks like any generic grandma without make up and casual clothing that can barely move a muscle. Han solo actually looks really fit and healthy for his age, looks younger than his last indiana jones movie (with make up ofcourse) but of course fans complain that they didnt give leia the same tratement.