Dear Carrie: Remembering an Icon

Dear Carrie Fisher,

I just wanted to say thank you for everything you’ve given me over the course of your life. When you fell ill last week, my heart sank. There was a little hope, and then a few days later, it was all over and you were gone. Like an idiot, I hadn’t assessed really what a huge influence you’d been on me until your death, but you really had. You were amazing and brilliant and funny and all the things I aspire to be. It will always be a travesty you never got your purple light sabre!

I first caught Postcards from the Edge on tv when I was about 10 years old. Channel 4 used to do movie seasons where they showed cool films like Heathers, Mystic Pizza and Stand By Me, and it was on there. I thought it was great, and my mum told me that it was written by the actress that played Princess Leia. This was a revelation to me. Growing up, that was all I wanted to do – write and act, though the only addiction I had was to chocolate rather than booze. You made it all seem very real and very possible, to “have it all” and do it with style.

“There were times people tried to humiliate you for being bipolar, but you just faced it head on and talked about it frankly.”

As I got older, I had my own internal demons to battle, struggling with depression, anxiety, and an iffy relationship with food. I found reading some of your writing and interviews about mental illness very helpful. There were times people tried to humiliate you for being bipolar, but you just faced it head on and talked about it frankly. You acknowledged your illness and your medication with no embarrassment. You will never know how much you helped towards removing the stigma of mental illness. You presented yourself without shame so that others can do the same. The first step to recovery is to admit there is a problem, and it’s hard to make that admission if you’re ashamed. You never let anyone see you ashamed.

“You showed those opinions the contempt they deserved.”

As a feminist, you refused to take any shit, and that was incredible. It was always a pleasure to hear you speak out against the sexism and ageism in Hollywood. You always spoke with good humour but with a biting truth – in an “I’m laughing but I’m actually really pissed off” way that was hard not to love. You frankly spoke about how there were few roles for women over 30 and the pressures put on you to lose weight, when your male co-stars faced no such criticism. You showed those opinions the contempt they deserved.

As a writer, an actor, a feminist and a mental health awareness speaker you were an incredible force (if you’ll excuse the pun). You were flawed, you were hilarious, and you had so much more to give. I will always remember your strength and good humour, as well as that iconic look.

“Thank you for encouraging people like me to speak up and stay strong.”

You were so important to so many people. You will be greatly missed. Thank you for encouraging people like me to speak up and stay strong.

Rest in peace, General, you wonderful wicked woman.

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