After being a total bum and missing last month’s Fan Art Friday, I’m back this month with Mei-Mei. She picked a great one – a simple picture of Princess Leia so that we could nod our head to the lately departed.
Though this picture is simple, it brought up so many memories for me of who Princess Leia was and how she impacted my life.
I think most importantly – and also most interestingly – was my initial reactions to Leia being a princess. When I was younger, I grew up like most children my age with the definition of a princess being a Disney Princess: flowing gowns, a prince charming, magic, etc.
Knowing Leia was a princess did not register with me for a few years, only because I had never encountered a princess other than a Disney princess. What ended up happening is that my brain rejected it because I could not understand it. I’m not sure how to explain this properly but she did not fit a mold of how I understood princesses to be and therefore I did not think she was a princess. This was all strangely subconscious. Obviously I called her “Princess Leia” but I think the title “Princess” became synonymous with her name, and not a title.
It took a few years and some growing up for me to understand that she was still a princess, albeit different from what I was used to. I ended up loving her for it.
This woman was a princess, but snarky, witty, and able to stand her ground with other men. In fact – she was the one who got them out of the trapped Death Star hallway…even though it was a trash compactor. I loved her line of, “Well, somebody has to save our skins.”
One of the things I loved most about her is the fact that she never really thanked Han and Luke for rescuing her. The adult part of me thinks that’s horribly rude, but then some of me loves it because I realize that maybe she always knew there would be a way out. Maybe she knew that she didn’t need men to rescue her so it was just a helpful coincidence that they showed up at the right time. Of course, Han did it for money so it’s not like she should thank him anyway.
As Princess Leia evolves, she changes from the sarcastic princess, to someone a bit warmer. I believe the sarcasm and wit were a wall that she used in ANH to hide her true self. As ANH continues, we see more of the woman she really is towards the end, when she counsels Luke about Han having to choose his own path. In ESB, she still has the wall, especially with Han, but Leia’s metaphorical wall finally gets destroyed as Han gets physically enveloped by a real wall. In ROTJ, the Leia we saw in ANH is barely present.
Funnily though, I never found Leia to be a very relatable character. I loved her, but she was never the one I yearned to be like as I always wanted to be Luke. But what Leia taught me is perhaps a more valuable lesson – how to hold my own around men. When I look back at my teenage years, I’m thoroughly embarrassed by the way I would act to get men’s attention. I would act like a ditz and an airhead because it made men (boys) laugh. I was degrading my intelligence for their benefit and attention.
With the help of my best friend at the time and watching Star Wars, I realized that Leia would never act like I did. She was able to show that you can be valued for your honesty, intelligence, humor, and not be held back because you are a woman. And you can be royalty to boot as well.
So while coloring this picture, I wanted to pay homage to the Princess Leia that I love and knew. I tried to keep it simple so that it mostly spotlighted her. I chose colors that came to mind when I thought of Alderaan: rolling green grass and forests with streams of water. Instead of giving her the title of Princess Leia which took me so long to accept, I gave the title of “Her Worshipfulness”, which Han called her once in ANH. I surrounded the picture with some of my favorite quotes of hers that meant something to me over the years (sorry, the nerf herder quote had to be cut out due to it being too long). I attempted to put the Rebel insignia into there as well.
This has to be my favorite coloring piece I have done so far only because of the gravity at which I took it and the memories and feelings it evoked for me.
Carrie Fisher, you will forever be missed as the woman who brought Princess Leia to life. The Star Wars community mourns your loss and hope the Force is with you wherever you are now.