Whether or not you were a Star Wars fan, there is no doubting the effect and influence of the Star Wars movies and the franchise.
After Carrie Fisher died, I was reminded of women’s status in our real world and the world of Darth Vader in 1977. When the first Star Wars came out, there were no women in the U. S. Senate. No woman had ever been elected to a full term in the Senate without her husband having previously served in the seat. Harvard was just preparing to admit its first women. Really.
Princess Leia was a princess, a senator and a general. She stood up to Darth Vader, inspired rebel soldiers, carried off the costume, the flat-heeled boots and the hairstyle. And she did while showing no cleavage. Whatever you believe about where women are in the world today or in their world, Star Wars would not have been the same without its leading female character. Carrie Fisher gave Leia the quality of grit.
I remember my mom going to the Hair Salon once a week. Her hair was washed, she sat under a hair dryer with curlers on her head, and she was then sprayed to a bouffant perfection that was to last a week. Even when home hair dryers were introduced, we were shackled to the dryer with a bonnet and a tube. And then came freedom. I never knew who freed us and would have never imagined it was a Holocaust survivor.
Rose Evansky is credited with giving the world blow dry hairstyling in the 1960’s. Born Rosel Lerner in the south of Frankfort she was sent to Britain in 1938 in one of the last trains carrying Jewish children out of Germany. While she was freed from Germany she in turn freed women from the domed hair dryer. Imagine the grit to survive as a child in a foreign country, live through the London Blitz, learn a skill, and become an innovator who changed the world for women.
Both of these women died in January 2016. Both broke barriers while doing their job. Both had grit. Webster’s defines grit as courage and resolve; strength of character. While Carrie Fisher’s challenges were often public, Rose Evansky toiled in the Mayfair area of London largely under the radar screen. Although Vidal Sassoon did give her a shout out in his autobiography.
One more in private and one more in public did their part to change our world. They did it with grit.