Star Wars: How Leia Changed Everything We Knew About Princesses

The impact that Princess Leia has had on the world cannot be understated. Back in 1977, audiences met the Alderaanian royal after she fell into the hands of Darth Vader. With death staring herself in the eye, fans watched as this teenage princess stepped to one of the Empire's most feared leaders in the hopes of creating a better future. After more than 40 years, Leia Organa remains a figure who ranks as a favorite amongst fans, and it is no surprise why. The heroine is worth far more than a crown, and her mettle has inspired millions beyond the Rebellion.

I was introduced to princesses at a young age. My parents bought me a slew of princess costumes after a prolonged trip to the Disney Store and, stuffed with glitter and frills, I felt like I could be any of my favorite princesses from my favorite movies and even tried to go to school as Megara from Hercules. But, as I look back, I wish there had been a different white costume in my closet.

Just a year later, my world — and those of many others — was changed when Star Wars: The Phantom Menace made its debut, with so many were curious to see how the prequel would go. Once the credits rolled, girls like myself were left entranced by the intergalactic world we witnessed, and it wasn't long before interest surged in the original movies that started it all. By the time I turned six, I had finished the original trilogy of Star Wars films and was left with a dilemma: why should I dress like Tarzan's Jane when I could be Princess Leia?

There was something about Princess Leia that kept girls curious. She was nothing like the heroines so many girls had seen before. Her tenacity was hard to match, and any princess who wielded a blaster over magical shoes was fine by our standards. From the start of Star Wars: A New Hope, Leia had her back to the wall without stumbling. Raised to be resilient, the heroine faced off against Darth Vader with a stiff lip that no Disney princess could match. From that first film, the franchise made it clear that Leia was a self-rescuing princess, regardless of whether or not Han Solo or Luke were by her side.

As the trilogy continued with Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, little girls were left in awe as Leia grew more open with herself. Her hard facade was unlike any princess before and girls on the cusp of adulthood began to appreciate her ability to delegate. Sure, puberty had nothing on fighting the Galactic Empire, but girls could learn a thing or two from Leia about persevering.

By the time Star Wars: Return of the Jedi came around, Leia had overcome the most humble and humiliating odds to blow a hole through the Galactic Empire. A single voice and steadfast vision managed to do what the Jedi could not, leaving young girls with little choice but to fall in love with Leia. Her willful spirit demanded as much respect as it did endearment, and we were smitten.

As an adult, those once-young fans now carry Leia's lessons with them closely. The world is a big place, but it feels smaller when we have the heroine's voice in our ears. The Skywalker Saga has one more journey in store for Leia before it closes, but the General's glorious legacy will never be forgotten. It lives on in millions of girls who saw a different kind of princess in Leia and hope to carry the same confidence in themselves as she did.

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Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker lands in theaters on December 20th.


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