Last Friday for International Women’s Day I shared photos of some of the women who made me who I am, accompanied by an explanation. One of my choices was Carrier Fisher, the daughter of famed duo Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher.

Carrie, most widely known for playing Princess Leia in Star Wars, is one of my heroes. Carrie died at the end of 2016, but while she was alive she was crazy (her word, not mine), she was vocal, she was strong, and she was the first chance many young girls got at seeing a “self-rescuing princess.”

I grew up very heavily on Star Wars. The 90s re-releases of the original films were probably the first movies I ever saw in theaters. Star Wars was life for my entire family. Unless you knew my family growing up, you’ll never truly know what I mean. While normal people had ritzy artwork hanging on the walls and area rugs that matched their couch pillows, we had Star Wars posters on the walls, Star Wars statues on stands, and Star Wars toys in cabinets as home decorations. We lived and breathed Star Wars, so characters like Princess Leia were practically part of the family.

Leia was not your typical princess. When Luke comes to rescue her the first thing she does is insult him with the classic “Aren’t you a little short for a Storm Trooper” line. Witty! Leia also wasn’t afraid to be shot at and to shoot back (George Lucas actually had Carrie take shooting lessons). Not only was this the first time I saw a princess help rescue herself, it was the first time I saw a powerful woman on screen.

Leia was a commander of an army. She practically moved on after her entire planet was destroyed in a few minutes. She helped to take on the evil Empire by putting herself right in the war action. She often was the far more level-headed and reasonable one in the movie. To top it all, not a single hair was ever out of place. I admired her so much that I spent many Halloweens dressed up like Princess Leia. She was a true hero.

As I grew older, I gained a respect for the woman behind the costume – Carrie Fisher. Last week I read her memoir, “Wishful Drinking,” which released in 2008. In “Wishful Drinking,” Fisher discusses her famous family, her drug addiction, her alcohol problem, her struggle with bipolar disorder, and various other parts of her life in a humorous fashion. The book was the only book I have ever read that literally make me laugh out loud.

Tabloids, and sometimes even Star Wars “fans,” were often unkind to Carrie, but she never let it bother her, and she even often fought back. In 2015, when Carrie made her return to Star Wars in “The Force Awakens,” all anyone could talk about was how she aged “poorly” and how she had gained weight. Funny, cause no one was talking about Harrison Ford or Mark Hamill’s age or weight. Hollywood can be so unfair to female celebrities, but Carrie wasn’t afraid to say something.

“Please stop debating about whether or not I’ve aged well. Unfortunately, it hurt all three of my feelings,” Carrie said at the time. “Youth and beauty are not accomplishments, they’re the temporary happy byproducts of time and/or DNA. Don’t hold your breath for either.”

I loved her for that statement.

A few years back I remember there being some controversy about the slave Leia action figure. If you have seen Star Wars, this is the costume Leia is wearing after Jabba the Hutt takes her as prisoner. A “concerned father” was outraged that stores were selling the action figure because of her lack of clothing. He demanded the action figure be banned from stores because he didn’t know what to tell his daughter about why she is wearing the outfit.

Carrie said the ban was stupid and responded, “Tell them that a giant slug captured me and forced me to wear that stupid outfit, and then I killed him because I didn’t like it. And then I took it off. Backstage.”

As I said, she wasn’t afraid to stand up for herself or Leia.

Fisher spoke loudly and frequently about having bipolar disease. She was an advocate for mental health and never shied away from embracing her disease. Her outspokenness and bravery on the topic attempted to shine light on the stigma’s that often come with mental health discussions.

Carrie wasn’t afraid to be talked about and, really, she embraced it by making fun of herself more than anyone else could possibly do. In a way, I’ve developed thick skin by following her lead. No one can hurt you if you’re okay with making fun of yourself.

Carrie is set to still appear in the upcoming Star Wars film. I know seeing her will probably make my heart swell with emotion. This will be the final time that a character that was so empowering to so many little girls will be seen on the big screen. While Fisher has been dead for a little over two years, her legacy lives on in her books and especially in Star Wars, because everyone knows… Star Wars is forever.