I think a lot of the negative comments on Carrie Fisher’s appearance in SW:TFA are due to the fact that people aren’t used to seeing a middle-aged woman in a movie. Or, really, in any media. Not only does this movie put a realistic-looking older woman on screen, her character is not a stereotypical “old woman” – she’s a mother, a wife, and a military commander. She is leaning the fuck in.
As any mother knows, you do the best you can. Every kid is born with their own personality, and a child of the Skywalker lineage was going to be non-neuronormative. I’ve always sort of wondered what the mother of the villain feels…there’s probably a certain sense of guilt and responsibility, but maybe also “Well, at least he isn’t mediocre.”
So she no longer rocks the metal slave bikini – Han still loves her. And let’s face it, he’s aged also (plus the scar from the plane crash didn’t help). I believe that these two had a passionate marriage all the way up to having a passionate separation.
Unlike the guys, she’s still fighting. Luke peaced out and went off to hide (which seems weird for him but who knows). Han did the male midlife thing of trying to go back to the things he
did as a youth, and ended up as a Mal Reynolds who couldn’t keep his crew. Chewie (who has aged the best of any of them) probably shrugged at Leia and went to babysit Han and talk him out of the red convertible speedster ship. Leia, OTOH, kicked New Republic ass until they took the First Order threat seriously and then recruited the best pilots and got to work.
So sure, I wish Fisher hadn’t immobilized her face, and I wish the costumers hadn’t dressed her like Nien Nunb – those two decisions were unfortunate together. But she’s wearing the body of a woman who’s had and raised a child, had a marriage, and had a life, and that’s the kind of body we need to see on screen more often.