TV and Movies
Love/Hate Leia


At around six years old, my friend BJ and I would play Star Wars in his basement. He had this white mountainous set where our dolls — oh, excuse me, action figures — would have adventures. I got to play Luke, since BJ always wanted to be Han Solo.

My sister was never interested in this game, but sometimes BJ’s older brother Michael would come down to mess it up. He always said I should be Princess Leia and should buy one. I would shrug my shoulders and grab Luke before he could.

I didn’t want to be Princess Leia. I was mad at her. At that point in the series, I didn’t know she was Luke’s sister, but Luke liked her. My feelings were conflicted about Luke at six years old. I both wanted to be him, the hero, but also wanted him to look at me the way he looked at Leia.

But didn’t every little geeky girl want to be Leia? Not really. She was so out of reach — a beautiful, grown lady. I couldn’t possibly be anything like her. She could tough talk the men, shoot a gun, and wear a sexy outfit while strangling that creep. Way out of my league. Somehow imagining myself as a clueless boy was easier.

As I got older, I moved away. There wasn’t another BJ who wanted to play Star Wars in my new town. I moved on.

As an adult, I got back into the geeky culture. Princess Leia in that gold bikini always popped up. Personally, I thought she looked cooler in the white outfit holding a gun because now I wouldn’t mind being her. She was a strong leader, and still won the heart of the sexy guy. But I hated that bikini shot. As if her entire character was summed up by a salivating nerd-boy fantasy.

In fact, the lack of other cool lead female characters in that series turned me off to the whole thing. If I wanted to cosplay, I had one option — Leia. And if I didn’t wear that bikini, no one would know who I was anyway. No thanks.

Then I attended ConnectiCon where I saw a woman in that bikini surrounded by storm troopers. She looked awesome, happy, and confidant. It turns out she was a belly dancer in the area with a Star Wars routine. I watched her dance and was mesmerized. Now I wanted to be Leia! I wanted to be that Leia in the costume — choosing it because she had power. Showing her belly because she could shake it!

That belly dancer changed my perception of Leia. Even though the character on screen would have never chosen that outfit– a sign of being a slave — a fan took it back. Changed it from a sex symbol to a powerful female art form.

I like Leia. She’s cool. And she still left Luke for me :)

Rebecca Angel

Rebecca Angel was one of those kids that put the dragon book on top of her pile in the hopes that someone would say, "Hey, I'm into that stuff too!" Alas, she had to wait until she was an adult to find fellow geeks. Luckily, she married one and they are homeschooling two children in upstate NY. Rebecca is a singer/songwriter, creative arts instructor, proponent of science literacy and 21st century education, and lover of tea, funky tights, RPGs, anime, manga, comics, fantasy books and movies. She writes about these things on geekmom, her favorite community of fellow geeks!

11 Comments
  1. Jason W.

    I apologize for the off-topic comment, but in the thought bubble in your avatar/profile pic, who is Renji talking to and what are they saying? I poked around the site and couldn’t find a larger version of the image. I only just now noticed it’s Renji and it’s got my interested piqued.

    • Rebecca Angel

      If you’re on facebook, I’ll go tag it on the GeekMom page right now (someone else just asked me about it too.)

      • Jason W.

        Thanks. Thought it was maybe Wolverine, but I couldn’t tell for sure.

  2. ming on mongo

    Dunno, maybe it’s because it’s become a generational icon, but IMO somehow the whole Star Wars thang is starting to seem kinda kitschy and dated, sorta like Elvis impersonators.

    • Rebecca Angel

      I have to agree to some extent. Especially about Leia. She’s on old character from an old movie.

      If you compare Star Trek to Star Wars, Trek continually reinvents itself through new tv series (though there isn’t one right now) so there are a variety of fans, who just like the same fictional universe. With Wars, it’s really the first set of movies that people adore, which does give it a sell by date. (Though I suppose there was an animated Star Wars series that people liked that is newer generational.)

      However, both series have books that keep it fresh too.

      I dunno. Good point…

      • DCK

        I think it’s George Lucas’s fault the trilogy is dated. The movies stand the test of time, but the new trilogy combined with the never ending re-releases (3D? Really necessary) have taken away some of the magic. Pisses me off.

        I have always been torn about Leia myself. Growing up with three brothers about my age, I was Leia if we played Star Wars, although I much preferred LOTR (I was Sam) and Ninja Turtles (Raphael). We never even bothered with Arwen or April O’Neill.

        A part of me will always be loyal to the original Star Wars, but I wish Lucas would stop releasing them. Makes me want to smack him in the face.

        • Jennifer D.

          I agree with you 100% on Lucas messing with them. It cheapens the whole thing.

          As far as Leia goes, my cousins and I always played Star Wars at my grandparents. There were two girls and 6 boys. My female cousin and I were always Leia and Baby Princess Leia. I have no idea who came up with that one. I was older so I didn’t have to be the baby one, but the Leia we played always had her weapon and was just as tough as the boys. Probably because by the time the third movie came out I was 10 years old and my cousins had moved away.

          I get tired of always seeing her in the slave costume too.

      • John

        Thank goodness for Clonewars. My daughter always plays Ashoka8)

  3. smee

    I’m a guy. I was 13 when Star Wars (it was the only one then) came out.

    I always preferred, and still do, the “white dress” and bounty hunter (before the bikini) versions of Leia – even though the bounty hunter version was wearing an awful lot of makeup on for the mission she was on (especially wearing a full-head helmet).

    The bikini Leia has always kind of bothered me.

    I will always immediately recognize anyone in a white dress and the appropriate hair (gun or no gun).

      • Jason W.

        I’ve liked Leia through the series. Sure, the gold bikini is sexy and plays to male fantasy, but I think the white dress with cinnamon bun hair (and a blaster) is just as recognizable as the slave girl outfit. Gold bikini or not she was always a strong character . I think the slave girl outfit is popular in cosplay because it’s a surefire way for a girl to get attention from the guys and photogs.

        The white dress, pulled up hair, and blaster is so iconic they even pay tribute to it with Padme on Geonosis (albeit a sexed up version).

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