The iconic image of Princess Leia sullenly seated harem-style, next to the hulking monstrosity of Jabba the Hutt is one that forever cemented Carrie Fisher as a sex symbol and probably shocked a few parents along with it. Clad in the famous slave bikini, Leia is seemly reduced to nothing more than a plaything for a rather moist and toady Cheshire cat-slug. However, by the end of her stay in the Outer Rim of Tatooine, Leia single-handedly kills one of the most dangerous gangsters in the galaxy and makes short work of his vessel.


Recently, there were whispers (well, more like J. Scott Campbell shouting in all caps) that Disney is attempting to phase out any sort of merchandise that has any relation to the skimpier of Princess..I mean General Leia’s outfits. This, of course, rekindled discussions on the how controversial slave Leia was for the female gender. It is in this humble writer’s opinion that while the context in which Leia is placed in is quite terrible, it does not take away from the fact that she remains an alpha female boss in terms of her ability to get herself out of trouble and the execution (ha!) of her later actions.


There remains the obvious objectification argument, which if you insert the pesky word, sexual, in front of it, becomes the action of turning an individual into an instrument of sexual pleasure. The very fact that Leia does not just sit around, worrying about her fate speaks against this! Jabba’s choice of wardrobe for our female hero is obviously sexy but it also is nothing new. It is clearly inspired from what 19th and 20th century Europeans thought of “Oriental” harems, and actually a point of fascination in literature, film, and dance for many centuries.


Need I point out that DISNEY Princess Jasmine remains an object of sexual male fantasies due to what was thought was “typical” of an ambiguous South Asian/Middle Eastern female. If anything, Leia’s outfit is a product of its time, formed out of the re-imagining of multiple Asian cultures that stems from the 1600s travel journals. The fact that Leia triumphs in the end, separates her from poor Jasmine, who really does have to wait for Aladdin to get his business together.


Another point of interest was that this idea of females figuratively paying the price for leaving home was actually quite prevalent in cinema throughout the 1980s reflected the increased numbers of women in the work force. However, while most female leads end with tragedy or death, Leia’s story actually demonstrated that a female can stand up for herself in any role she is put in. In fact, let’s not forget that it was also due to this particular outfit, that our femme fatale was able to choke and pop Jabba like the disgusting zit tumor he was. Then she proceeds to help Luke blow up the ship. If that does not scream girl power, I’m not really sure what is.


Even Carrie Fisher’s own words are extremely telling. During filming, Fisher had stated her discomfort in wearing the outfit as well as her eagerness to change out of it. Her feelings are clearly translated in Return of the Jedi however, it further encourages the idea that femininity and strength are not in fact, mutually exclusive. Fisher not only grits her teeth and completes the scene like the boss she is despite her discomfort, but as Leia, she demonstrates that while she was knocked down, she gets back on the literal alien horse-slug and kicks its butt! When asked what Fisher thought about Disney’s attempts to get rid of her iconic outfit, she said that it was “stupid,” and I really do have to agree with her. After all, its not like Leia decided to walk into a family-friendly restaurant in her slave outfit. As Fisher put it:

“a giant slug captured me and forced me to wear that stupid outfit, and then I killed him because I didn’t like it.”

To me, it means that you can be a strong female as well as wear a piece of clothing without having to feel uncomfortable in it..and if you do, you have ever right to make it known!!


Leia’s bikini has inspired businesses to re-create the slave outfit, while thousands of females (and some males!) will continue to don the metal-y (and sometimes spandex-y) goodness, despite Disney’s attempt to add Leia among their repertoire of wide-eyed princesses. If Leia teaches us anything, it is that a woman has to wear many outfits for her many roles in life!

ABOUT >> Mac Lemons
  • ACCOUNT NAME >> paranoidlemons
  • BIO >> Mac is a history lover, avid harry potter fan, and occasionally pretends to join the circus. While flying on fabrics and searching for magic are her true passions, her civilian life forces her to walk around a lot.
  • CONTACT >>

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *