Princess Leia’s metal bikini struck an immediate chord with adolescent male fans of the Star Wars series from the moment it debuted in “Return of the Jedi.” But not everyone fell in love with the “slave Leia” outfit; in fact, many viewers found it to be a prime example of sexual objectification and sexist treatment of the series’ only notable female character at the time. Carrie Fisher, who played Leia and had to put up with decades of discussion around the outfit, warned Daisy Ridley, star of “The Force Awakens,” “Don’t be a slave like I was… You keep fighting against that slave outfit.”
The designers of the infamous two-piece have insisted they never intended the movie costume to be demeaning. Aggie Guerard Rodgers and Nilo Rodis-Jamero based the design of off Frank Frazetta’s artwork for the cover of The Princess of Mars. George Lucas loved the idea and since he wanted something “special” for the scene, he got it.
Fisher got extra attention on set while wearing the getup—for more reasons than one. Since it was literally made of metal, the outfit wouldn’t stay in place. “After the shots, the prop man would have to check me,” she recalled. “He’d say, ‘Okay t**s are fine. Let’s go.’” Though Fisher may not have loved the revealing outfit, she refused to be victimized by it; during a controversy over “slave Leia” figures decades later, she quickly pointed out that the character’s brief time in captivity ends with her killing Jabba—with her own chain.
“That chain only ‘enslaved’ me,” tweeted Fisher, “until I could use the frabjous thing to KILL THAT DROOLING SWOLLEN SUPERTONGUED SLUG & whirl him off into infinity.” As always, Fisher had the last and best word.