I’m a recovering romantic. I blame Disney for convincing me that love was a thing of make believe and fairy tales. For instilling in me this idea of “Princess Culture” where beauty is the most valuable asset a woman can offer, and being sweet and submissive are her forms of charm. Now, I don’t claim to be a feminist, but with the rise of the “Me Too” movement and #Timesup, I’m beginning to see how women’s experiences (including my own) have been shaped by this culture.
You see, for most of my life, I dreamt about being rescued by Prince Charming. You know the type. That dashing guy who swings in on his wild horse, rescuing you from the depths of your “woe is me” despair??
Like YOU needed rescuing.
You were never a damsel in distress. In fact, you were a pretty bad ass chick before Prince HARMING came along.
Prince Harming was a pretty package wrapped in lies, casting his secret spells of love at first sight and disillusionment. Yet, no one could possibly love you at first sight without taking the time to get to know what lies underneath that pretty exterior. And vice versa – nor you him. Infatuation vs. love…well, those are two VERY different things. One burns fast, while the other burns long.
True love and your heart, MUST be earned, for the immense treasures they hold…
Maybe Disney didn’t intentionally want us to subliminal-y feel like we were naive girls who needed true love’s kiss to feel complete in life. Or that fancy clothes and the perfect pair of shoes would qualify us to earn the attention of a man (or society for that matter) who wouldn’t even bat an eyelash at us, when we’re plainly clothed, working and covered in cinder.
Like Snow White, am I bitter from tasting the magic of a poisoned apple?
Or like Ariel, do I wish I had never traded my VOICE to be a part of his world???
The answer is YES. Battling a gang of Hans’ (Frozen reference) in a world of swipe right and swipe left, only to discover their true, villainous natures’ is exhausting. Yet…had I never learned what true love wasn’t, I may have never come to the strong realization of what true love IS. And it isn’t magical. It’s REAL.
If there was any Disney princess who taught me anything, it was Belle. The self-proclaimed book worm never judged a book by it’s cover. After all, she refused to marry the town’s dashingly-handsome, leading man – Gaston, and fell in love with a lonely “Beast.” Her love was unconditional. I mean, look how she ran after her father on her horse in the middle of the night, and selflessly traded her freedom for his.
Belle, really was different. She had courage, honor, conviction…And for the first time in Disney history, a woman saved a man. But even Belle is a little extreme and her story is inherently flawed. Sure, she showed courage and selflessness and all of those honorable traits. However, placing yourself in harm’s way or giving up your freedom is never cool, nor something true love would ever bestow upon you,
If Disney taught me anything, at the risk of sounding cliche, it would be – to believe in the beauty of your dreams, and to never stop hoping. Even when you feel disillusioned and hurt by life. When you feel that your story will never have it’s happy ending…trust me when I say, it will. But it only will if you keep believing in yourself. If you keep believing that your story isn’t done yet. If you keep trusting that there is so much beauty ahead. You just have to take the risk to discover it.
So, maybe what I’m saying is, be the heroine of your own story. Be the woman who stands up for herself, and who fights for her best life, whatever version that best life is for you. It can be big, or it can be small. All paths are equally brilliant. But be the woman who doesn’t wait around to be saved, but saves herself, through her talents, gifts, courage and kindness. And write your herstory, because a queen never needed any king. And if she did, it was because he was worthy enough to be a part of it.
All photographs by Brianna Anderson Photography