when I was a kid, I told my mom that I wanted to be an actress when I grew up. You know what she told me?
She said, “sure, but you’re going to have to do it in China. America won’t hire you if you’re Asian.”
And that was it for that dream.
Of course, that was just a phase - one of many, one I would’ve gotten over anyway. But what she said stuck to me. You’re going to have to act in China, because America doesn’t hire Asians.
And if there’s anything I learned over these years, it’s that she was right. Asian-Americans don’t get to see ourselves on screen. We don’t get to read about our deeds. And we get pissed. We complain, we shout, and people dismiss us because, oh, “the Japanese are okay with Ghost in the Shell”, and “I’ve heard that mainland Chinese are perfectly fine with Iron Fist.” Well, great for them. This isn’t about them.
This is about us. Asian-Americans. Asian-Canadians. Asian-Australians. Asian hyphen something. And the Asians in Asia don’t understand - because they can’t. They’re surrounded by media portrayals of them. They never have to fight for representation because it’s always there. They have no idea what it’s like to live in a country that sees you as other, and then to have to go back to your home country, to have your parents tell you “this is you, this is your culture, your heritage” and you look upon the faces of your family and you see nothing of yourself in them.
Asian-Americans are not the same as Asians who live in Asia. We live in a different culture. Our values, our beliefs, the experiences that shape our lives are separate.
We want to see ourselves in western media because it’s what we grew up with. It’s what surrounds us. Sure, we can watch K-dramas and anime and Chinese/Taiwanese/Japanese/whatever dramas, and a lot of us do, but it’s still not us.
We shouldn’t have to go watch Asian dramas just to see a part of us represented. We shouldn’t have to move to Asia just to be hired.
We deserve to represent, and be represented, as ourselves.
How to talk to your daughter about her body, step one: Don’t talk to your daughter about her body, except to teach her how it works.
Don’t say anything if she’s lost weight. Don’t say anything if she’s gained weight.
If you think your daughter’s body looks amazing, don’t say that. Here are some things you can say instead:
“You look so healthy!” is a great one.
Or how about, “You’re looking so strong.”
“I can see how happy you are — you’re glowing.”
Better yet, compliment her on something that has nothing to do with her body.
Don’t comment on other women’s bodies either. Nope. Not a single comment, not a nice one or a mean one.
Teach her about kindness towards others, but also kindness towards yourself.
Don’t you dare talk about how much you hate your body in front of your daughter, or talk about your new diet. In fact, don’t go on a diet in front of your daughter. Buy healthy food. Cook healthy meals. But don’t say, “I’m not eating carbs right now.” Your daughter should never think that carbs are evil, because shame over what you eat only leads to shame about yourself.
Encourage your daughter to run because it makes her feel less stressed. Encourage your daughter to climb mountains because there is nowhere better to explore your spirituality than the peak of the universe. Encourage your daughter to surf, or rock climb, or mountain bike because it scares her and that’s a good thing sometimes.
Help your daughter love soccer or rowing or hockey because sports make her a better leader and a more confident woman. Explain that no matter how old you get, you’ll never stop needing good teamwork. Never make her play a sport she isn’t absolutely in love with.
Prove to your daughter that women don’t need men to move their furniture.
Teach your daughter how to cook kale.
Teach your daughter how to bake chocolate cake made with six sticks of butter.
Pass on your own mom’s recipe for Christmas morning coffee cake. Pass on your love of being outside.
Maybe you and your daughter both have thick thighs or wide ribcages. It’s easy to hate these non-size zero body parts. Don’t. Tell your daughter that with her legs she can run a marathon if she wants to, and her ribcage is nothing but a carrying case for strong lungs. She can scream and she can sing and she can lift up the world, if she wants.
Remind your daughter that the best thing she can do with her body is to use it to mobilize her beautiful soul.
He hadn’t been the same for a long time. The Newt they knew, he was gone long ago, and now Tina paces here at the side of his bed, the poisonous bite already seeping through his bloodstream and killing him slowly. St. Mungo’s had already said they could do nothing for him, that it was too far gone to be stopped now.
“Newt, I love you, you know that.”
He smiles, though it’s more of a grimace at this point. “I know.”
“And I don’t—I don’t see why they won’t do anything. There must be something they can do, something they can use, right? Some potion or spell or… or something?”
Newt shakes his head once, a slow movement that only furthers to drain the color from his face. “There’s nothing.”
“But you had a whole notebook. Something must be in it.”
Newt’s eyes shut. “There’s nothing, Tina. I was foolish. This is what I get.”
Her lower lip wobbles, just the slightest. She doesn’t, after all, have time to cry yet, not while he’s still alive in this hospital room for a few more seconds. “The war may have taken her, but you survived it, Newt. You don’t have to let yourself die.”
“It’s my time.”
“Newt,” she mumbles, grabbing his hand, “please don’t do this. She’d want you to live.”
Newt’s hand is cold and heavy in hers.
“Is it so bad if I join her again?”
She squeezes his fingers, nodding. “Yes. Yes, it’s very bad if you do. We need you here, Newt. Queenie and I need you. Jacob needs you. Pickett needs you.”
A shaky breath passes between Newt’s lips. “Tina, the guilt game won’t stop the creature’s poison.”
She doesn’t remember much of the election season—she was only thirteen, and it was a blur of hands shaking hers, holodroids recording as she sweated through heavy gowns; her campaign manager saying, smile, naberrie, don’t you want to be a queen?
It’s a good question. She’s not sure how she would have answered it, if she’d known what she was getting into.
Her mother is an astrophysicist and her father owns Naboo’s largest interworld shipping yard; if it hadn’t been for Senator Palpatine, politics would never have occurred to her. But the Senator had noticed her, plucked her from the Young Leaders of the Naboo during their visit to Theed. He had taken an interest, suggested a stylist and a campaign manager, introduced her to the ‘right’ people. (Padme was never entirely clear what the criterion was, for these determinations. In hindsight, she probably should have asked.)
On the night of the election, he had taken her by the shoulders, and said, congratulations, your majesty, and Padme Naberrie had been so overwhelmed she wept, there on his shoulder.
She has a panic attack, just before her coronation. It’s not something she’s aware of, at the time, but the moment they fit the ceremonial death’s mask over her face she is gone, she is far away—she watches the proceedings from outside herself, as
Padmé Naberrie dies on her knees, as Queen Amidala rises up in her place.
Padmé thinks, my gods, that unfortunate wretch, that queen amidala. I pity her.
She does like her handmaids, though. The first year of her reign is occupied by training, a thousand things that must be learned—including hand-to-hand combat, the art of weapons, and the geopolitical landscape of the galaxy. She is not from a traditional noble family; she has not had the kind of education most queens receive from birth. Instead, she has herself, a dozen girls who could pass for her twin (if you weren’t quite sure what Queen Amidala looked like) and a furious determination not to make a fool of herself.
Sabé took her place for most of the blockade, the negotiations. Padmé was so angry she couldn’t speak to the Trade Federation without shaking. Once, she lost her temper completely and threw an ornamental vase at their representative—they stopped sending representatives, switched to holos. Choked off the food supply to Theed until Padmé apologized, clenching her teeth so tightly she was afraid her jaw might break with it.
Later, after, she is viciously glad when Palpatine comes to her, tugging on the heavy livery collar that marks him Galactic Chancellor. (Nervously, she thinks then. Like a beast playing with a fresh kill, she revises later, in light of new information.)
Padmé is in her nightdress, and she is still viciously glad when she says, “Make them pay, for daring to touch my world,” and Palpatine smiles, all teeth.
Once upon a time, there is a Queen, and she is good, and frightened, and mostly tries, tries very hard. Keeps trying. Wakes up the morning after trying, and lets her handmaids adorn her, and tries again.
Nevertheless, she spends the last seven and a half months of her reign desperately counting the moments until it’s over, until she will be free. There is talk of making her senator, but she dismisses it as gossip at every turn, rejects it even when Queen Jamillia offers
Padmé the role.
She has a hundred thousand plans—sitting in a restaurant with no one and nothing to interrupt her; catching up on the holodramas she loved; walking her sister to school; listening to her father complain about managers and her mother complain about apprentices and all she wants, she thinks, is to even just a glance at what normality might look like.
There are some journeys you cannot come back from, and queenship is one of them. At thirteen, the Lake District was the whole galaxy, but has fought a war, plead for her people on the floor of the Senate, gone to the furthest reaches of the Outer Rim and met Jedi, ratified treaties, almost died a hundred times over. (She goes swimming in the mornings, and cannot keep herself from thinking, this is everything? this is all? for the rest of my life?)
Her mother thinks she should found a school. Her father thinks she should be enjoying herself, perhaps meeting her future partner. Her sister is largely quiet, perhaps because they are virtual strangers to one another. (Padmé has not been back to the house of her birth for—too many years, when Sola was a happy child and not a sullen adolescent. She’s skipped so much of the middle of her family’s life, she doesn’t know how to make up for it.)
She’s not used to how desperately, horribly impotent she feels, shunted to the sidelines of her world. After a few weeks, her mother begins hiding all their datapads so Padmé can’t scroll through the morning holos and spend the day working herself into a rage over galactic affairs and idiot political decisions. Padmé writes passionate transmits to her many old colleagues, advising on courses of action, but their replies are cool, a formality. (She is not Queen Amidala anymore, they do not have to listen to her.)
Jamillia passes an edict that
Padmé had spent months ensuring would be stillborn and without support, and
Padmé is so furious that she unearths her old handmaiden training blaster, and spends the afternoon blasting holes in a garden statute.
(“You grandmother gave us that, as a wedding present,” her mother sighs, when
Padmé eventually makes her way back. “It was horrible and ugly,”
Padmé says in her most airy queen-like voice, and her mother laughs.)
She is so starved for substance that when Palpatine sends a transmission asking if she would like to meet him for dinner—the Senate is in recess, he has retreated to the Lake District to escape the miasma of Theed—Padmé jumps at the opportunity.
He still smiles with his teeth and not his eyes. Padmé was not aware how much she missed that—or rather, how much she missed the danger of it. To sit and talk in smooth, wide circles and have a conversation in the unsaid spaces was a thrill, electric and missed.
(She is not Queen Amidala anymore; she is just Padmé. But she has missed politics, all the same.)
“I know you would not consider it, when our queen—” he says ‘our queen’ with the faintest trace of irony in his voice, and
Padmé bites down a delighted laugh at how pleasantly obvious he’s being, like a joke, just between them, “—offered you the mantle of senator.”
“I was hoping you might consider it now,” Palpatine says. “I think we could do…great things, you and I. We could change the galaxy.”
She was so conscious of the place that Leia had, not just broadly in the culture, but very specifically in terms of girls who grew up watching Star Wars when Leia was the only female hero on the screen. She really wanted to do right by that, drawing the character forward. That was something that she would always be pulling us back to. And for me it was fantastic, because besides all the other benefits of having a fantastic writer like Carrie there by my side while we’re making this movie, just having a voice that was like a compass needle that would always pull it back in the right direction of, this is what this character means and this is what we always have to make sure that she’s serving, with her strength and also with her weaknesses — showing a fully realized character who is going to be inspiring to the folks who grew up with Leia.
What she means:
I want to make sure those four brothers have such a comfortable life I want to tuck them in and make them warm meals and knit them sweaters and make sure they TALK TO AND SUPPORT EACHOTHER and grow stronger in their relationships to eachother as a family and as a team I want to make them feel safe and valued because they live such a hardened life that they didn't choose and I want to do all in my power to make sure these four stay happy and understand that they are absolutely validated and loved.