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Where Did The Inspiration for Princess Leia’s ‘Space Bun’ Hair Come From in ‘Star Wars’?

Princess Leia is probably one of the first names that pop into your head when the franchise of Star Wars comes up. She is strong and has some of the best lines in A New Hope, alone. She grew into one of the essential characters in the original trilogy and went on to make a massive mark in the sequels as well. Played by the late Carrie Fisher, Princess Leia is one of the most recognizable characters ever, as well, thanks to her iconic space buns that only appeared in Episode IV. But where did the inspiration come from? There isn’t a straight answer. 

Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford on the set of 'Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope.'

Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford on the set of 'Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope.'

Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford on the set of ‘Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope’ | Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images

George Lucas said that Mexican revolutionaries inspired her hair

According to the BBC in 2016, George Lucas told Time in 2002 that the inspiration for Leia’s buns came from Mexican revolutionaries. “I went with a kind of south-western Pancho Villa woman revolutionary look, which is what that is. The buns are basically from turn-of-the-century Mexico,” Lucas said.

Fisher told the BBC in 1977 when the first movie came out that “George didn’t want a damsel in distress,” which is why she had such an odd, out-of-this-world hairstyle. “[He] didn’t want your stereotypical princess – he wanted a fighter, he wanted someone who was independent,” she said.

However, Tabea Linhard, who wrote Fearless Women in the Mexican Revolution and the Spanish Civil War, told the BBC that that’s not historically accurate, because these women didn’t have hairstyles like Leia’s. 

“As much as I would like to say that Princess Leia’s hairstyle was based on the ‘soldaderas’ from the Mexican Revolution, this was probably not the case,” she said. “If you take a look at photos from the period, you see women with long braids, some wear hats, on occasion, they cover their hair with a shawl.”


That’s not entirely accurate, but the hairstyle still has indigenous roots

So, Princess Leia’s hair isn’t innately Mexican. But, it seems that maybe Lucas got the area mixed up because indigenous women in Arizona did have similar hairdos. 

Kendra Van Cleave of Frock Flicks — a website that reviews the accuracy of costumes in historical dramas — told the BBC that the “squash blossom” style was something women in the Hopi tribe in that region. “This consists of two side arrangements which aren’t actually buns – they’re more loops of hair,” Van Cleave said. 

She described it as a “U-shaped ‘hair bow’ made of wood.” It sounds pretty complicated, with a figure-eight pattern in the hair. 

“This hairstyle became more widely known in the early 20th century due to photography,” she said. “Of course, the 1920s was an era when women in the Western hemisphere were shaking up traditional gender roles. American women got the vote in 1920, and were attending college and taking on professional employment in unprecedented numbers.”

Time also reported on May 4, 2020, that the Japanese “Shimada” hairstyle might have influenced Leia’s look, too. So while it’s not entirely clear where Princess Leia got her hairstyle, it’s safe to say that it came from a mixture of cultures and styles. 

Carrie Fisher’s legacy lives on through Princess Leia and her big hair buns

A Princess Leia sign is seen at the Women's March Los Angeles 2018.

A Princess Leia sign is seen at the Women's March Los Angeles 2018.

A Princess Leia sign is seen at the Women’s March Los Angeles 2018 | Sarah Morris/Getty Images

Regardless of where her hair came from, the impact she and her buns have had on pop culture is immense. As stated above, she only wore her hair like that in one film, but it’s what everyone wears to recreate her look. There is a reason we call two hair buns “space buns,” now, which are very popular and stylish to this day.

As Fisher’s daughter and actress Billie Lourd wrote in an Essay for Time in 2019, Fisher didn’t like the buns. But she also couldn’t wait for her daughter to dawn them in the sequel trilogy. 

“Even though she complained for years about how the iconic Leia buns ‘further widened my already wide face,’ she desperately wanted me to carry on the face-widening family tradition,” Lourd wrote. “Some people carry on their family name; some people carry on holiday traditions–I was going to carry on the family hairstyle.

Lourd played Lieutenant Connix in Episode VI-IX. She wrote that when Fisher passed away in 2016, Lourd gained a new responsibility when it came to Star Wars and Princess Leia’s legacy. 

“And I inherited this weird, intimidating thing called her legacy. Suddenly I was in charge of what would come of her books, her movies, and a bunch of other overwhelming things. I was now the keeper of Leia.”

As the Time video pointed out, that legacy is far-reaching, with a significant impact on women’s rights protests and female empowerment as a whole. Fisher would undoubtedly be proud of where her “face-widening” space buns reached.

Written by: Cheat


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