As the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens fast approaches, Star Wars is, unsurprisingly, on the minds of many fans. The latest chatter stems from a rumour that Disney intends to retire “Slave Leia” from its merchandising plans. Many fans are upset by this, while others are happy to see it gone.
The Slave Leia bikini was already the source of controversy earlier this summer due to her appearance within the Star Wars Black Series toy line, which describes itself as a collection of “quintessential” character moments, packaged in sleek boxes that are:
“In short, its sexy. Slave Leia sexy.” — www.starwars.com
For some, the scene where Leia uses her slave bondage to kill Jabba in Return of the Jedi is the epitome of empowerment:
All I can say is, that scene was a cheer-worthy moment for me, BECAUSE she kills Jabba so completely badass.
— GAIL SIMONE (@GailSimone) November 4, 2015
— and Carrie Fisher herself takes a similar, “never truly diminished” perspective:
That chain only"enslaved"me until I could use the frabjous thing to KILL THAT DROOLING SWOLLEN SUPERTONGUED SLUG&whirl him off into infinity
— Carrie Fisher (@carrieffisher) July 15, 2015
Although she added nuance to her tune when giving advice to Star Wars’ new female star, Daisy Ridley:
“You should fight for your outfit. Don’t be a slave like I was. You keep fighting against that slave outfit.”
Others find the metal bikini representative of disturbing sexism:
@GailSimone I agree she saves herself and is bad ass. But the only line she speaks in that outfit is "I'm here." She is silenced in it.
— V i v ! (@zanylikethat) November 4, 2015
but if you're defending something called a "slave bikini" go jump in a lake
— Noelle Stevenson (@Gingerhazing) November 4, 2015
The concern isn’t necessarily that the bikini exists, but that it became the “face” of Princess Leia. George Lucas, a man known for his intense focus on merchandising and marketing, had Slave Leia added, front and centre, to the movie poster and other promotional material, including the 1983 Rolling Stone beach photo shoot above. While older fans will never forget the white gowned, spiral-bunned princess passing on messages to a droid or facing down a Moff and a Sith Lord, for many younger fans, the metal bikini is their introduction to Leia Organa.
FWIW, when my daughter was *4* she asked of this cover "Why's everyone wearing normal clothes except Princess Leia?" pic.twitter.com/o6jyFd1sFF
— Saladin Ahmed (@saladinahmed) November 4, 2015
When the issue was raised in the summer, our own Ardo Omer said:
“I was so surprised by the first two original Star Wars mostly for Leia. I thought she was going to be in that bikini for the whole franchise the way it is disproportionately represented in media. Very surprised by her being just a bad ass and a leader worth following.”
Our resulting discussion, as well as the history of Leia’s iconic and problematic bikini can be found here, along with our own ideas about quintessential moments in Princess Leia’s career and the corresponding outfits that go with them.
But what about you, dear readers and fellow Star Wars fans? What are your thoughts on the metal bikini? Vote in the poll or add your thoughts in the comments.