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Carrie Fisher Has Always Inspired Me to Love Myself

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By Zoey Hickman

Looking back, it seems strange that most of my heroes were men. Robin Williams, Charlie Chaplin, Jim Carrey—all men that I admired and wanted to be like someday. For a long time, movies always had women as damsels in distress. Those movies didn’t give me many strong women to look up to as a little girl. There were very few on my list of heroes, which is why I am so heartbroken that one of the very few has passed away.

When I was about five years old, the first non-children’s movie I remember watching was Star Wars. It was the first time I saw a woman that I looked up to in a movie. Leia Organa was diplomatic, yet cut-throat. She was beautiful, yet fierce. She didn’t take anyone’s shit, and that’s what made us love her. Watching a woman walk around like she owned the place, firing at the enemy right next to her male counterparts was insanely inspiring as a little girl. The representation that she brought to the table was astounding, and she inspired the performances of many actresses portraying heroines today. Just as Leia influenced me as a child, Carrie inspired me as I became an adult. When I started dealing with the issues that come with puberty, she became an advocate for mental health and drug abuse, and she wasn't being shy about it.

In high school, I dealt with a lot of mental health issues. They affected my grades and my popularity with my peers, and for a very long time, I hated myself. It wasn’t until I found women who spoke up about their struggle with mental illness that I started loving myself again, and Carrie Fisher was on the front line of this. Seeing someone who played a character that I adored as a child speaking up about her bipolar disorder in such an open and honest way was absolutely inspiring. Carrie’s semi-autobiography, Postcards From The Edge, discusses the manic episodes she went through during a phase in her life when she didn’t want to be medicated. "You can lead a normal life, whatever that is," Carrie told USA Today, speaking of how she learned to live with her mental illness. Mental illness has always been stigmatized and treated as if you cannot lead a normal life with it, to which Carrie gave the middle finger. Her advocacy work was even honored with an Erasing The Stigma award.

When you’re a 16-year-old, feeling alone and not wanting anyone to know that you’re failing your AP Chemistry class because your depression is making you apathetic, it's encouraging to see a childhood hero talk about how she accepted that bipolar disorder was a part of her life. It was something that had a great impact on my self-love and mental health. I honestly cannot imagine where I would be if I didn’t have amazing women in Hollywood and the music business willing to speak out about their struggles and let people know that not being perfect is okay.

Princess Leia taught me to be a badass in the face of adversity. Carrie Fisher taught me to embrace my flaws and love myself. She was an actress, writer, producer, mother, daughter, sister, former drug addict, mental health activist, and survivor. She did so much for so many people, and she will be a feminist icon for decades to come.

Rest In Peace, Carrie. You were one hell of a woman.


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