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    7 More Reasons Why Rey Was The REAL Miss Universe 2015:

    In the wise words of that sword-swinging little girl that Ellen Degeneres brought onto her show, “not every girl dreams of being a princess” — a phrase which proves to encapsulate Rey. And so, here is my list of reasons for why I think Daisy Ridley's Rey is more apt for the title of Miss Universe 2015 (Miss Jakku, if you will). It goes without saying that this article contains SPOILERS. But seriously, the movie has been out for almost a month now – go see it!

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    DISCLAIMER: To protect myself from the potential wrath of die-hard Star Wars fans, I would like to preface this piece by saying that by no means, am I trying to pretend that I know any more than I actually do about these movies or these characters other than what I know from watching the original trilogy in preparation for Episode VII. I appreciate and enjoy the films but I don't necessarily have the same kind of passion or nostalgia factor for them as say, my two older brothers, who I credit for the creation of this piece through their unyielding insistence. This article is coming from the point of view of someone who may not traditionally write about or consume mass amounts of science fiction.

    That being said the views expressed may find their merit by being just that: the views of a "casual". A casual who was as surprised as anyone else when seeing The Force Awakens awakened in her (see what I did there) feelings she did not anticipate: gratitude, inspiration, and pride.

    1. She is independent

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    Having been left to her own defenses on the planet of Jakku as a little girl, Rey was forced to care for her own well-being without the help of anyone else. While the circumstance is tragic and painful, her utter self-sufficiency can largely be attributed to the life of forced independence that she has grown so accustomed to over the years. In addition, despite Finn’s gentleman-like, protective instincts (i.e. instinctively reaching for her hand in times of panic), Rey demonstrates an admirable insistence to fight her own battles and ensure that no man is responsible for her rescue; she dissipates the damsel in distress trope that debilitates a woman’s agency and intellectual capacity.

    2. She is a take no sh*t kind of girl *Insert sassy girl emoji here*

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    “I think I can handle myself” or “Don’t hold my hand!” – while both of these statements are testaments to her independence that we are introduced to from the get-go, it’s the accompanying sassy execution of these remarks that make Rey all the more badass. She isn’t over-sensitive, defensive, or “in your face” about her self-reliance; rather, she is confident and certain in her own capabilities, and conveys this in a quick-witted way that would make any aspiring or certified sassy chick approve. Her strength isn’t really a “thing” or a gimmick – it’s just part of who she is.

    3. She challenges gender barriers

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    Tearing down gender stigmatizations and dissipating the glass ceiling that women have long found themselves constricted by in the real and cinematic universe alike, Rey exemplifies the modern depiction of a powerful and independent woman we should have the privilege of seeing more frequently in films. While that’s not to say that we haven’t been introduced to any powerful female characters or figures in general, there is something so unique and refreshing about watching a badass Jedi-heroine in action. We watch and experience Rey discover her powers and importance to the Star Wars saga at the same time she does – and it’s damn satisfying to see it all unfold.

    4. Her struggles are relatable

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    Rey is in search of a purpose, fulfillment, and belonging. Her struggle to recognize her own self-worth is one that we’ve all experienced at one point or another; if we look past the droids and Jedis and everything else that comes with the epic Space Opera that is the Star Wars saga, we notice that Rey’s loneliness is more relatable than not. She spends her days awaiting the indefinite return of the family that abandoned her (even though it was probably for her own protection) and the majority of her time scavenging Jakku for useless trinkets and parts to trade in for food; she lives merely on a day-to-day basis, in pursuit of something more, but initially without the means to facilitate a change.

    She is lonely and stuck in a routine that seemingly has no end. This is no more apparent than when we see her scrubbing her finds of the day before she trades them in – as she watches an old woman across from her doing the exact same job she is doing, and probably has been doing for the majority of her life. As Rey wonders if the fate of that old woman will become her own, we really sympathize and understand the pain of a space-orphan from a galaxy far, far away. Maybe it’s your job. Maybe it’s your relationship. But knowing you’re meant for something more and not necessarily having a way to change things is heartbreaking. We’ve all been there.

    5. She isn’t sexualized

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    Oftentimes female characters are sexualized in film, though such is not the case for Rey. The majority of her body is actually covered up, and even so she is all at once beautiful, feminine, and exuding grace. Rey’s attire is a testament to the fact that showing skin isn’t and shouldn’t be depicted as being synonymous with an increase in female opportunity or advantage. Instead of falling into the preexisting stigma of women as hyper-sexualized objects expected to dress a certain way to satisfy the male gaze, Rey takes this trope and annihilates it. She proves that her beauty, appeal, and female agency are derived from much more than how she chooses to dress.

    6. She is as strong as her male counterparts

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    Rey proves that she is just as physically resilient as her male counterparts, and arguably even more so emotionally (i.e. emo Kylo Ren). She doesn’t depend on Finn (or any man for that matter) to protect or fight for her, and she shows us that she is just as capable of fighting her own battles as any man would be. From her Jedi mind-tricks, to her unyielding strength in the face of Kylo’s mentally debilitating tactics and threats (“I can take whatever I want”), to her insanely impressive (first time use) of a lightsaber, Rey demonstrates the importance and empowerment of not fading to the back to let the men handle it – she takes matters into her own hands, trusts her own capabilities, and in turn, tears shit up. Bent but not broken by her lonely upbringing, Rey channels this anguish and pain into a sort of self-confidence and strength that is worthy of admiration. Straight up, Rey’s a role model. #goals

    7. She is a progressive female character

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    What I love most about Rey is the fact that she, like a lot of young women, is still learning. She doesn’t claim to know more than she actually does, or try to mask her fears or hesitancies; she is only human (or, like, space-human or whatever), and the movie emulates this impeccably. We pay witness to how she is just as at odds with herself as she is with Kylo Ren, or any sort of adversity that comes her way. When the Skywalker lightsaber first calls to her, she runs. And we get it. But when it’s finally time for her to throw down with Kylo Ren immediately after Finn is taken out of the picture via spine-slash, she stands. She fights. She wins. Rey’s influential impact isn’t just limited to young girls — her strength, volition, and independence are traits that can pertain to women of all ages. I can’t stress enough how empowering it is to see a hero that looks like you. It’s strange, but you don’t really realize how amazing it is to have something that most minorities don’t get in big-budget epics like this until you get it: and that’s representation. Rey’s character proves to us that female characters can be progressive, beautiful, and inspiring, all without abiding by the enervating code of expected societal norms.

    Now here’s to a whole generation of girls wielding lightsabers, flying spaceships, beating the bad guys, and saving the day.