It’s one of the most famous moments from Star Wars, and remains an enduring pop culture reference. But why? The obvious reason, of course, is that it’s attractive, but could there be a deeper reason? Let’s discuss:
One of the things someone might notice is when the “Slave Leia” costume began to appear in popular culture. Appearances includes Family Guy, World of Warcraft, Bring Back . . . Star Wars, Chuck, Fanboys, and perhaps most famously, Friends. All of these appearances have several things in common: the age of the intended audience.
In Chuck, Sarah Walker wears the Slave Leia outfit for the titular Chuck, much to the delight of him and other male characters. Chuck, as stated in the show, is in his mid-twenties when the show begins in 2007, which would have made him a child when The Return of the Jedi came out in theaters. The character Ross Geller from Friends is an even better example, as he would have likely been a teenager when the movie came out. If the characters aren’t the target age, then the audience is (or, both). World of Warcraft, Robot Chicken Star Wars, Family Guy . . . the list goes on.
This is likely due to the fact that being both an exciting, action-packed film, and suitable for younger children, many of the actors, directors, writers, and producers – not to mention viewers – of the titles listed above are now people who may have viewed the Star Wars movies at a young age, as opposed to older men and women that saw it in their twenties or thirties.
Why, then, does viewing Slave Leia’s saucy outfit at a young age drive such an appreciation for the costume? It’s easy to determine: For many children of the era this is likely the first sexualized character they’ve seen, though Princess Leia does nothing more than wear the outfit. Due to its generally kid-friendly appeal, most parents would see nothing wrong with allowing their children to see the movies, even as young as six or seven, and while seeing the outfit may not have exactly jump-started viewer’s puberty, it is often discussed as the moment many male viewers began to realize there is something more to women – we’ll leave it at that.
So this poses the question: is the Slave Leia outfit enduring? Will she go the way of bombshells such as Farrah Fawcett, Linda Carter, and Betty Grable, female icons that are tied to a specific era? Will her look and effect spread farther or last longer, due to Star War’s intense and enduring popularity? It’s hard to tell. What do you think?