Daisy Ridley still combats body image standards her male costars don't have to deal with. The Star Wars actress has now come out to face down her critics in a hearfelt appeal on Instragram
Star Wars Episode 7 drew us with the promise to revisit the timeless characters who made up the original trilogy. Yet, unlike, the prequels, it seems the new canon is here to stay. And that's in large part thanks to The Force Awakens, which had the double task of remaining true to the spirit and excitement of the original trilogy while convincingly passing the torch to a new generation of galactic actors. Much as on Earth, Finn, Rey and the rest of The Force Awakens cast must define their own individuality in a universe that places them in prescribed and proscribed roles. And while Rey continues her journey to discover her true self and her place in the larger galaxy - with Daisy Ridley teasing the The Force Awakens sequel and a "cool" Luke Skywalker - the actor herself is still combating societal views which seek to fence her in.
But Ridley finally faced down these dark forces after an Instagramer criticized her for portraying an "unrealistic" image of femininity on screen because she doesn't have curves like "real women." "'Real women' are all shapes and sizes, all ethnicities, all levels of brave, have families, don’t have families," Ridley responded directly in a now deleted Instagram post. "I am a 'real woman’ like every other woman in this world.” Once the original commentator started receiving hate-filled messages from Ridley's "fans" and supporters, the British actor took down the original post, replacing it with a more explanatory message that began, "Guys it was not my intention for anyone to send messages to that poor person that posted the original picture. My whole post is about being kind to each other, so please refrain!" In the body of the image, embedded below, Ridley details why, on the day following International Women's Day, we still have a long way to go to accept variety as part of our daily media appetite.
"It is much more hurtful to continue to slate other women than BE a woman, BE a character, Be whoever you want to be," Ridley released to her Instagram fans. "I’m a normal girl thrust into extraordinary circumstances, just likes Rey. I will not apologise [sic] for how I look, what I say and how I live my life … and I am striving to be the best version of myself, even if I stumble along the way.” That best version of herself is exactly what we're looking for, both of Ridley and of Rey, in the relaunched galactic franchise - set shots of which have been leaked from the far away galaxy of Croatia. No one ever said either character or actress were perfect (well, probably someone out there did), and there was much in The Force Awakens ripe for critique. But as soon as we start faulting someone for elements that inhere in them, like gender, race or physique, that is exactly when alarms should be going off in our heads. At these moments we need to ask ourselves, "are we judging someone for their fidelity in bringing a new image to life, or are we prejudging them for their affirmation of how we think a subset of people should behave, look like, act or simply be?" And that holds true in this galaxy as well as the one far, far away. What did you think about Rey in The Force Awakens?