Disney princesses sell fallacies, break hearts
Published: Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Updated: Tuesday, December 7, 2010 19:12
have long accepted that I'll never meet a unicorn. I don't still entertain fancies about sprouting wings or being saved from this poor, provincial town and trotting off into the sunset. But I've only recently realized that my childhood idols were lying to me about love, too.
Snow White and Sleeping Beauty tried instilling a sense in me that being worth saving meant you were worth loving, and that I should therefore find myself in some plight to fluff a guy's ego enough that he'll want me around forever.
Jasmine made it seem like all I needed was a pretty face and swiveling hips to seal the deal.
Ariel committed the cardinal sin of feminism by changing her physical makeup to be with her prince who was so gullible he fell under the spell of a crazy witch.
Obviously, over the years a girl learns that singing into wishing wells and falling into 100-year slumbers isn't really that attractive, but the thought that true love conquers all is one that's been very hard for me to shake.
I think perhaps the biggest slap in the face from these girls is the one Belle has left smarting hotly on my cheek.
Of all the classic Disney stories, hers is the one that has reverberated with me forever. She was a bookworm with a yearning for adventure that always saw the best in people. She met a beast that at first was so mean, coarse and unrefined that he had no qualms about nearly killing her father, and she ended up agreeing to be his prisoner in return for her dad's freedom. Then, by being open-minded about her captor while holding true to her own beliefs and beauty, she changed him into a prince. By no other force than love, he transformed for her and they lived happily ever after.
So I wonder, a decade later, how my generation is supposed to feel when we are shown that this idea is so false, so silly that it will someday break our hearts.
Our mothers and our peers may tell us to be realistic; that boy's never going to change, no matter how much he says he will. How do we know whom to believe, then, when Belle and even the new Princess Tiana convey to us that love can turn a beast into a prince or a playboy into a gentleman?
Furthermore, Belle, Tiana and their princess pals never taught me how to deal with rejection or heartbreak. When Ariel's man found a new girl, she simply gave up and cried until she was rallied by the realization that he was under a spell.
When Thumbelina thought Prince Cornelius had abandoned her, she agreed to marry a mole whom she ultimately left at the altar for the aforementioned fairy prince. Mulan, probably the best example, actually decided to continue with her life after facing what seemed like disgust from Shang. But even he returned to her in the end, creating this cycle that has made gaggles of girls believe that as long as we have these feelings and stay true to them, the men we danced with once upon a dream will always come through.
This is a fallacy that aches juxtaposed with reality, and I'll be the first to admit I've been much too willing to follow Belle's lead, coming out with unrequited feelings and a stinging loss of innocence.
Part of me is determined to stay positive, to rename my prize for rotten judgment as a trophy of experience and move on with my life. I'm young, after all, and there's plenty of time to find that key to heaven Cinderella sang about.
But the other part of me can't quite forgive Belle for making it look so easy. All she had to do was fall in love, and poof! She had a ready-made prince with servants and a castle.
But maybe all these stories are really supposed to do is show girls the sort of happy endings we deserve, and to instruct us to wait out all the frogs and narcissistic jerks until we find someone really worth it all. So I suppose I shouldn't be too terribly bitter, because that optimistic part of me is still convinced that someday my prince will come.
Cassidy Gooding is opinion editor of The Advocate. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.