Daisy Ridley is a good role model for our children - Argus 15th Jan 2016

Posted Monday 18th January 2016   By Ericka Waller

So I finally made it to the cinema on Friday to see the New Star Wars film, the Force Awakens. We booked a sofa at the Duke of York, Komedia. I was impressed until I found out they did not sell pick ‘n’ mix or popcorn. How can you enjoy a film without picking half popped corn out your teeth and then slurping on Seven-Up to rehydrate your salty mouth? The lead character Rey, played by relatively unknown actress Daisy Ridley made it all worthwhile.

At the time of casting she had no IMDB bio, no Wikipedia article and less than two hundred Instagram followers. Since the launch of the film she has appeared on a British postal stamp, and become a household name (if you have children or husbands who still act like children) She now has over 1.1million Instagram followers.

I'm one of them. I loved everything about her. The fact she is not a size 0. She has a healthy, strong body, and if you watch her Instagram videos you will see her working for it with sets of exercises.

She is the kind of role-model I hope my daughters will look up to, will connect with. In a sci-fi film based in a galaxy far far away, she was very real.

Her costume was not revealing scraps of clothing. Calf muscles flexed as she ran across the screen. Her face was not caked in make-up. She did not have a false accent, and she was a badass with a light saber. I’m not knocking princess Leia by the way. Carrie Fisher had a stand up row with George Lucas about that gold bikini, but at the end of the day Lucas made those the first three Star Wars films for his sons.

He since turned down the opportunity to work on the new Star Wars films. His new film, Strange Magic will be released next week.

Lucas has said that the movie is really about his three daughters, Amanda, Katie, and newborn Everest, whereas "Star Wars" was about his sons.

‘Star Wars’ was for 12-year-old boys. I figured I’d make one for 12-year-old girls. You know, the 12-year-old boy one worked for everybody from eight months to 88 and boys, girls, dogs, whatever. It really worked. So, I said, well, maybe I can do one like this, but it’s slightly more female-centric. [In ‘Strange Magic,’] we still have sword fighting, we still have things, but truly a story that hopefully will work for everybody.”

It seems Disney did not have the same objectives in mind when they made The Force Awakens.

For a while the hashtag #WheresRey was trending because no figures of her character were available. According to HASBRO they were made, but not distributed so as not to 'spoil' anything, although another new character Finn appeared.

To further this speculation, in the special edition Monopoly, Rey was omitted as one of the game's tokens.

I'm saddened, but not surprised. David Bruff, director of the centre for teaching at Vanderbilt Universitry tweeted 'Re #WheresRey. It's not just that little girls need to see that girls can be heroes, it's also that little boys need that message too.'

Daisy Ridley said, 'I completely see what this film might mean to young girls and of course I take responsibility for that. I want people to realise that the possibilities are endless. If I had a younger sister, I would think it was great that I could show her The Force Awakens and Rey, someone who is not sexualised, not in a gold bikini, not born into privilege, just a person who finds herself on a crazy adventure and exceeds all expectations, including her own.'

Let’s hope fame and money don’t disintegrate Daisy ‘good intentions, and may she always be aware of the responsibility she has as a role model to young girls.

I've recently started a Saturday morning 'FitFam' sessions in the local Park. It involves mud, cold weather, star jumps, worms, burpees and running up hills. Two of the girls like it, one cries the whole way through, but it's not optional. I toss encouragement over my shoulder at them as they chase me round the goal posts “Come on! Fit not skinny” “We love mud!” “Strong is the new pretty!” “This girl can!”

I want to make exercise part of their day-to-day life now, not when some mean girl at school tells them they are fat, not when the boy they like is not into them and they is pulling themselves apart to find something wrong and fix it.

I want exercise to be an escape from all that, as it is to me.

By the way, FitFam is free and all families of all ages are welcome Rottingdean Park, 9am onwards. We head up to Roedean Café afterwards for the best breakfast going.