Today, the world is mourning a legend. But this time last year, the conversation surrounding Carrie Fisher was very different.

Carrie Fisher was many things — an actress, of course, but also a brilliant author, screenwriter and script doctor, and an outspoken advocate on the topics of mental health and drug addiction.

Her off-screen achievements were so impressive that, earlier this year, she was awarded the Annual Outstanding Lifetime Achievement Award in Cultural Humanism by Harvard College for “her forthright activism and outspokenness about addiction, mental illness, and agnosticism”.

But for some people, those achievements ceased to matter late last year when she had the temerity to appear on screen in the latest Star Wars film as *gasp* a woman in her late fifties.

For having the sheer gall to have aged since her days in that infamous gold bikini in 1983’s Return of the Jedi, Fisher was mocked by both internet trolls and professional columnists.

If you saw The Force Awakens with a group of people, or if you talked about it with your friends, you almost certainly know what I’m talking about — you almost definitely heard someone ask “what happened” to Carrie Fisher. You might have even been that person.

And it’s not like Fisher didn’t hear it. On 29 December 2015, while the rest of us were unboxing the last of our presents and finishing off our Christmas hams with our families, Fisher was clapping back at her critics on Twitter in her own inimitable style.

“Please stop debating whether or not I aged well,” she wrote. “Unfortunately it hurts all three of my feelings. My BODY hasn’t aged as well as I have. Blow us.”

She added: “My body is my brain bag, it hauls me around to those places & in front of faces where there’s something to say or see.”

After re-tweeting a supporter who wrote “Men don’t age better than women, they’re just allowed to age”, she issued one more tweet of her own on the topic.

“Youth and beauty are not accomplishments, they’re the temporary happy by-products of time and/or DNA.”

The next day, New York Post columnist Kyle Smith thought it was appropriate to respond to Fisher’s words of wisdom by writing a column entitled “If Carrie Fisher doesn’t like being judged on looks, she should quit acting“.

Because, of course, all Fisher brought to the table in The Force Awakens was her looks, and not her deeply soulful performance as a woman with her fair share of regrets and lost love. Nope — if she didn’t want to be judged on her looks, she shouldn’t have shown up, apparently.

Naturally, Fisher retaliated via Twitter.

“OK, I quit acting,” she wrote. “NOW can I not like being judged for my looks? Tell me what to do and who to be, oh wise New York Post columnist. You GENIUS.”

Fisher also addressed Smith’s criticism that she would not have made it as an author without Star Wars on her CV.

“Mr Smith doubts I’d have any success as a writer without Star Wars,” she wrote. “Peddling doubt about my looks and comments wasn’t enough, now he goes for my writing. Merry Xmas.”

The Twitter stoushes followed an interview with Good Housekeeping earlier that month in which Fisher discussed the pressure she was under to lose weight for her appearance in The Force Awakens.

“They don’t want to hire all of me — only about three-quarters! Nothing changes: it’s an appearance-driven thing. I’m in a business where the only thing that matters is weight and appearance. That is so messed up. They might as well say get younger, because that’s how easy it is.

“When I do lost the weight, I don’t like that it makes me feel good about myself. It’s not who I am. My problem is they talk to me like an actress, but I hear them like a writer.”

Fisher railed against the fact that “we treat beauty like an accomplishment, and that is insane”.

Today, we mourn Carrie Fisher, and we celebrate her incredible life and career.

But before she slips into the sepia-toned line-up of lost stars that we choose to remember in their seemingly perfect youth, take a moment to remember Carrie Fisher as the real, empowered woman who led the resistance — not just against the First Order, but against the ridiculous notion that female performers aren’t allowed to age.

We’ve lost a great one. It’s just a shame some people weren’t able to appreciate that while she was alive.