Thank You, Carrie Fisher, For Being The Kind of Princess That Didn’t Do the Dishes

When I was a little girl, I didn’t want to be just any princess. I wanted to be Princess Leia.

Even after multiple vacations to Disney World and a closet full of costumes and tiaras-I had no interest in pretending to be a passive heroine. At the age of 5, that’s not how I wanted to roll.

Why?

Because on one uneventful day, my next-door neighbor, Derek, invited me to see Star Wars with his parents. Even though I wasn’t particularly interested in the flick, I figured going to a movie was better than riding my bike alone. Plus, Derek’s parents always let us go nuts with the concessions; I counted it as a win-win for me.

Little did I know my world was about to change.

See, up until then, all of the princesses I knew of were pretty much the same and, well, low-key boring.

There was Snow White, and while I did adore her dress and her posse of dwarves, I never wanted to be her. 

I did admire her ability to communicate with the animals through song. I remember thinking if she could do it, then I could too, so I spent weeks singing to my dog, random birds in my yard, and various neighborhood animals to no avail. I finally gave up after my dog ran away after my rendition of Whistle While You Work.

Speaking of work, Miss White exhibited a passion for cleaning, which I did not share. I figured that if seven dwarves ever appeared in my room, I’d give tidying up a chance. Since they never showed up, my room stayed trashed, and my romance with Snow White was over.

Cinderella was another story.

Sure, she overcame the obstacles of a wicked stepmother and an unfortunate looking pair of evil stepsisters. Still, ultimately she relied on a Fairy Godmother and a Prince she barely knew to rescue her. It also bothered me that she lost one of her shoes…I mean, you get a magical makeover complete with glass slippers, and you leave one behind?

My Mom would have had my ass for that. 

Sleeping Beauty bored me to tears. Here we had yet another girl with the gift of beauty and the ability to sing, but she lays lifeless until a Prince saves the day. 

Ugh. Where was the initiative? And what was the take-home message? Lay there until a dude saves you? I think not. 

When I discovered Princess Leia, everything changed.

Donning (what appeared to me as) a white nightgown and donuts in her hair, Leia of Alderaan was unlike any princess I had ever seen. She wasn’t cleaning anything or singing songs to Wookies. No, Princess Leia was too busy shooting laser guns at Storm Troopers to belt out a tune.

She didn’t play.

Unapologetic, blunt, and opinionated, Leia held her own next to Hans Solo, Luke Skywalker, and even Darth Vader. She was my kind of gal. Leia didn’t need dwarves, fairy godmothers, or magic shoes and wasn’t waiting around for some guy to save the day. She did it herself.

She showed me that a princess could do more than go to a ball, sleep, or clean. 

And y’all, Leia wasn’t just a rebel.

She ran the Rebellion.

After putting her in that awful gold bikini, Leia straight up killed Jabba the Hutt with her bare hands, while I imagine Snow White would’ve sung him a song and straightened up his crib.

Princess Leia was a badass, and I wanted to be just like her.

Now that I’ve grown up a little, my ambition to be a lightsaber-wielding Jedi has subsided, though I still consider myself a rebel. 

My grown-up thoughts now turn toward the actress that portrayed Leia, Carrie Fisher, since she passed away earlier this week.

With parents like famed actress Debbie Reynolds and singer Eddie Fisher, Carrie was considered Hollywood Royalty-the closest one can get to Princess status this side of the pond and silver screen.

She started acting and battling addiction early and was eventually diagnosed with bipolar disorder and manic depression.

But Carrie Fisher didn’t seek help and hide under a blanket of prescriptions, psychiatrists, and PR reps.

No, she shared her story, sparing no detail no matter how raw it was, because sharing it would help others. Hollywood be damned.

(Keep in mind that all of this went down before oversharing on social media became the norm.)

Postcards from the Edge was first. In case you missed that one, Postcards is a semi-autobiographical novel from 1987 that covers drug addiction, rehab, and the drama between a mother and daughter. The book was so good that they made it into a movie starring Meryl Streep and Shirley MacLaine.

In the 1990’s Carrie shared her bipolar diagnosis with the world.

And like the dynamic character I longed to be, she was daring and passionate when she spoke about it. Carrie Fisher bravely shined a light on a disease that most kept hidden, and somehow she managed to do it with humor and wit.

Carrie didn’t have to lay her life out for the world to see. She was a talented Hollywood script doctor, and writer-she could have laid low and avoided the often critical public eye.

Instead, she chose to tell the truth about her mental illness and spared no detail, which is a rare act of bravery coming from an A-list celebrity.

But I would expect nothing less from a princess- the kind of princess I still want to be.

Outspoken. Confident. Brilliant.

Carrie Fisher ultimately helped millions of people struggling with their mental health and addictions through her efforts to remove the stigma attached to them.

While my son’s autism doesn’t fit neatly into a mental health category or any category for that matter, Carrie’s work has inspired me to write and speak more about my son. Maybe our experiences can help one of the millions of parents out there desperately searching for help for their kids on the spectrum.

My family lives a crazy life with Nathan, full of sensory overload, bathroom floods, locked doors, light switch obsessions, and impromptu 2 am naked chandelier swinging, to name a few. I have to laugh about it because I refuse to let it get me down.

Autism is a battle like no other, and I am thankful for strong princesses like Leia and trailblazers like Carrie that showed me how strong women fight and never give up.

I’d be so screwed if I wanted to be Cinderella…

“If my life weren’t funny, it would just be true, and that is unacceptable.” -Carrie Fisher

This post was originally written to celebrate the life of Carrie Fisher after her death in 2016.

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