The picture on the left is a piece of fan art. But the picture on the right is an official print made in honor of Celebration VI. Both are remarkably, and disgustingly, similar in content. They are also unfortunately popular pictures.
Without any context for these pictures at all, without knowing why Leia was in this outfit or who Han was to her, these pictures are still upsetting. It’s explicitly visualizing the male gaze. All Leia is in these pictures is something pretty for Han to look at. In the left picture, she’s not just something for him to look at but something for him to possess, which is even more disgusting.
With context, these pictures become even more upsetting. Leia is the only named, speaking female character in the entire Original Trilogy. Throughout the movies, Leia has her own agency. She needs and accepts help from those around her, but she is not a damsel in distress any more than Luke or Han is. She is capable of whatever she wishes to do and to see this fierce woman reduced to something for Han to enjoy is incredibly upsetting.
And to make this scene even worse, is the context of how Leia got into that outfit in the first place. The metal bikini is the only outfit that Leia did not choose to wear herself. She was forced into the outfit because a giant blob monster has a proclivity for scantily clad female humanoids. As this article points out, Leia did not take that treatment sitting down. She literally strangled Jabba to death with the chain he held her captive with. Leia was empowered enough that she refused to take that shit from Jabba, or from anyone else.
So why do we continually see fetishizations of Leia’s loss of agency? Why would the man she loves treat her exactly the same way as Jabba had? And why should we accept Han acting this way as completely normal and acceptable?
There had been lot of debate regarding the whole “How Leia remembers Padmé” issue. Some people say that it was a major retcon of the PT, other say that Leia was remembering his adoptive mother, Breha Organa, because there is no way that a newborn would remember her mother.
However, during my Star Wars rewatch, I figured that it’s not unplausible or impossible that Leia has memories of Padmé. And here is why.
In The Empire Strikes Back, Yoda tells Luke about the Force:
"Through the Force, things you will see. Other places. The future…the past. Old friends long gone”
Leia is Force-sensitive. Like her father and twin brother, she has a great amount of midichlorians running in her veins, and thus, is possible that may had more consciousness than an average newborn. The Revenge of the Sith novelization even points that Leia was born with her eyes open (in contrast to Luke, who was with his eyes tight shut during their birth) and looked in direction to Padmé as if she wanted to “memorize her face”. On top of that, Leia mentions to Luke that she only remembers “images, feelings”, nothing concrete. No flashbacks, no memories, just images and feelings.
You can even argue that Leia may had Force visions of Padmé and she confusses with memories. Who knows if she, as a young child, saw Padmé in her dreams? Images of Padmé in her last days, in Naboo, or during her dying moments? Inside the movie, the moment they focus Padmé’s face as she dies, we don’t get to see the other side of her bed. Probably the droid who held baby Leia moved to her side and showed her her daughter and BUM! Mother-daughter bonding, and Leia gained visions or precocious memories of Padmé.
Now I want more Padmé-Leia mother-daughter bonding stories.
Character sketches of Han Solo, Ben Kenobi and Princess Leia by Ralph McQuarrie.
star wars female character meme [6
free choice→ moments]
↳ leia speaks with anakin’s ghost (the truce at bakura)the stranger stepped sideways into a darker spot, where his glow brightened. he was tall, with a broad pleasant face and dark hair. “i am your father, leia.”vader. a chill started at her feet and shivered its way to her scalp. his very presence stirred every dark emotion she owned: fear, hatred—"i want you to leave." the dark chill froze her voice. "disincorporate. fade out, or whatever you do.""wait." he did not move away from the wall. if anything, he seemed to shrink in size and proximity. "i am no longer the man that you feared. can you not see me as a stranger, not an old enemy?"she’d lived too long with the fear of darth vader. “you can’t restore alderaan. you can’t bring back the people you murdered, or comfort their widows and orphans. you can’t undo what you did to the alliance.” old pain jabbed her like a fresh wound.he extended a glimmering arm. the mellow voice sounded wrong. the mild, naked face didn’t look as if it’d hidden for decades behind a black breath mask. “leia, things are changing. i may never be able to return to you.”"good."