First betrayal, then divorce, and now I am not a candidate to be a Disney Princess unless I’m photoshopped and they lop off my flipper feet. Even then, being a divorced woman (gasp!) likely excludes me. Although the betrayal thing could stick, because what Princess has not been betrayed?
Kate Middleton has had a pretty charmed life, no betrayal that I’m aware of. And she’s an actual Princess, complete with tiny waist, upturned nose and hyper-glossy hair. Has anyone checked for a Disney logo stamped on the underside of her tiny foot? Disney is such a powerful organization that I wouldn’t be surprised if somehow they took Snow White, and through the power of animation, brought her to life. Then, sold her to the Royal Family while still retaining the copyrights.
Who knows, she could be carrying the human version of Mickey Mouse. Or Walt Disney himself.
As you know, I’m not much of a girly girl. Never liked dolls – they creep me out. I always thought Barbie looked unwell, and fragile, and totally not like me. The kind of girl you don’t bring to places where there are large crowds because if someone bumped into her she might shatter.
I’ve never been a fan of fairy tales. I loved Nancy Drew and stories about pirates and wenches. Wenches that could keep pace with the boys. I swapped nail painting parties for deep sea fishing trips with my Dad without hesitation.
I am the anti-Princess.
So explain to me why I read every story about the Princess/Duchess Catherine? Really. Every one. I won’t buy a magazine because it has a story about her in it, but I’ll read one in Vanity Fair (I’m a subscriber and lover of VF) or any slightly reputable online media outlet.
Define slightly? Any site that I happen to stumble across when I search for Kate Middleton on Google because she hasn’t shown up in the Daily Mail UK in a few days, and I’m dying to know what she’s up to.
This makes no sense.
Unless you factor in subliminal training since, oh, birth.
A kitten suggested I check out The Blogess’ thoughts on the controversy surrounding the redesign of Merida, the heroine of Disney’s film Brave, for her inclusion in the ranks of Disney Princesses. I haven’t seen the film, but being a ginger I was stoked about the story of a redhead who thought more about her bow and arrow and less about her mascara wand. Those frizzed curls and googly eyes won me over.
The redesign made me cringe.
The decision to photoshop the life out of an animated character is the ultimate move in our quest to further perfect an already perfect being, as anointed by animation man and not genetics. A being designed to be perfect enough for film, but apparently not enough for the Prince – for one does not become a Disney Princess without a Prince. So, not only does nature make mistakes, now animators do as well. A nip here, a tuck there, doe up those eyes and puff out that bosom, and viola!
Princess. Supermodel Married to Financier. Trophy wife of Internet Icon. Or, woman who has never felt beautiful enough just as she is.
The Blogess, whom I love dearly, didn’t have her underfrillies in a tizz over Merida’s makeover because she felt that, as a mom to a girl, it was her responsibility to teach her daughter about self love and self esteem and not leave it to Hollywood. She’s right. But she has a formidable foe in that endeavor – subliminal programming. Some call it advertising or marketing, but that seems so benign. When you really consider the negative effects of how we are programmed to believe only a certain type of beauty is actually beautiful, it becomes programming the human psyche, not just trying to move products. It stops being about the clothes and the shoes and the makeup and attracting Prince Charming and it becomes the only measure of acceptable beauty, causing us to spend our money in a never-ending quest to achieve it.
You might as well hate yourself now if your hair doesn’t flow just so and your waist isn’t small enough to be encircled by the two hands of a man.
When we drop 1, 5, 10, 100,000 dollars on hair extensions, liposuction, the latest threads, the newest sea kelp, coconut oil BB cream placenta filled crystal jars of promise, we aren’t keeping ourselves healthy, we are telling ourselves that we haven’t yet become perfect.
And we never will be. (Unless I develop a photoshop program for actual human bodies. I will then be physically perfect and ludicrously wealthy. I promise it won’t create duck or cat faces. They look weird.)
No matter how well-adjusted your daughter (or son – they’re programmed, too), she will succumb to Disney. Or The Kardashains, or Cosmo, or Danielle Steele. Or Twilight, to include the red carpets showing whiffs of women wearing the equivalent of yearly salaries, having affairs and making it all seem okay because of a backwards worn baseball cap and Converse sneakers…when they aren’t wearing Valentino.
When I was growing up none of this madness existed. WOMEN were the sex symbols of the day. I didn’t have to compete with them. I was a girl. Not a sex symbol in the making. (Just typing that makes me die laughing. And then want to shake the bodies of all those that have sent us down this most unfortunate and destructive path.) Sure, we had Maureen McCormick (Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!) and Valerie Bertinelli, but we didn’t have an 8 YEAR OLD GIRL DRESSED UP LIKE SHE’S ABOUT TO HAVE MARITAL SEX WITH HER SUPER WEALTHY AND TOTALLY PERFECT BETROTHED WHO WILL HONOR HER UNTIL HER LAST BREATH!
That is so destructive on so many levels it negates, in the grand scheme, all the good Merida achieved on screen.
Do the Disney animators and the creative heads live in a (man) cave? Did they not for one second think to themselves, Out of all the chicks to princess-ize, Merida might be the least receptive candidate, leaving those who have finally found their very own heroine the most confused?
Merida would have shot them with an arrow before allowing them to line her eyelids, shrink her waist and expand her bosom in order to make her worthy of the title, and then the man.
Timing what it is, I found it hard to brush aside this story. Just before it came out I mentioned in a post my own issues with my body image and that I needed to understand them better. These issues permeated my marriage. Throughout my childhood I fluctuated between big-boned (I can never write that and not think of Cartman.) and chubby. I had a decent figure in high school and then the freshman 15 turned into a college gain worthy of a separate diploma. I had always worked out (except for college when classes and fishbowls of beer got in the way), but I’m Swedish. They make them substantial. Better to deal with winter. Mrs. Claus was not a waif for a reason. It costs less to heat the house with her in it.
It wasn’t until my career was well under way that I got serious about getting back in shape. Shortly thereafter I met The Genius. And shortly thereafter, due to a total lack of boundaries, I took his lifestyle as my own.
My biggest mistake.
I made many mistakes in my marriage, but the most significant one was to leave behind my passions that nurtured me and reinforced my love of self. Instead I got totally lost. And gained 20 pounds that went north, when at 39, I became pregnant.
It’s not a recipe I recommend.
Even though I was the only one that worked out regularly in our house, my body was held to a different (higher) standard. Not just by TG, by me, too. I have no idea if it would have made any difference had I maintained my single working girl physique throughout our marriage. I suppose if I had, I would still be in the same position I am in today. Love is supposed to be about more than just the body, right? Maybe we never had the right chemistry, or maybe appearance mattered more than substance. Or maybe I was in a bad mood because I failed at meeting the standards. Who wants to be married to a bad mood?
But I’m still so trained, and not only because of TG. I’m trained to believe that my appearance is the single most important part of my being. As a species we spend a remarkable amount of time on our appearance compared to most other beings whose preening is mainly for the purpose of getting clean.
For me, the time spent is in endless hikes and swims. I don’t starve myself, but I also don’t overindulge. I hike and swim off whatever I can, which isn’t always enough for me. As one kitten sweetly (overstated) said, I have a body a 30 year old would envy.
But I see the flaws. In fact, historically I’ve only seen the flaws.
Because I am so not Disney.
Consciously, I am totally cool with that. But unconsciously, I (cannot believe I am typing this) want to be the Princess. Because I’ve been well trained. Despite our best intentions, subliminal messages will always trump the spoken ones unless we are hyper-conscious. There is no denying it. A small fraction of the population exposed to the constant assault of all this jacked up, sliced up, dolled up beauty will recoil and retreat.
The rest of us will need to revolt.
Not to make white noise or to demand changes to the conglomerate that is the Hollywood/Beauty biz; making a difference in their world isn’t as important as making a difference in our own individual lives. We need to revolt to honor ourselves, to get healthy mentally and emotionally, and to put an end to perfection paralysis – the dis-ease of choosing to shelve goals and dreams, hopes and aspirations out of fear of failure.
One of the key contributors to my anxiety while traveling back east was a complete stoppage of working out. I swam for 20 minutes and stretched 3 times. It drove me mad. Partly because of the lack of endorphins I churn out during a swim or hike, and partly because I feared being perceived as out of shape. After not feeling desired for so long in my marriage, my drive to keep my body fit has taken second in line status in my hierarchy of needs, loving myself being the Queen. Thank goodness for that or I’d be one 500 calorie day away from an eating disorder.
If I lose ground in my physical condition it negatively impacts my mood, which negatively colors my emotions, and makes it hard to see magic.
I’ve tested this theory. It’s rock solid.
While we should spend our time taking excellent care of our bodies because it is one of the most beneficial ways, as humans, we maintain physical health and support our self esteem, it is also a clear indicator of our love for ourselves. If we are letting our bodies suffer, something else is ailing – our hearts. And even when we are conscious of that, the program is still running behind the scenes. Causing us to aspire to be the Princess and then, when we realize that ideal is not attainable, causing us to berate ourselves for failing to be worthy of the crown jewels.
The controversy around Merida will die down. And then another manifestation of our obsession with body image will surface, like a story about a Hollywood star losing control because she gained weight in rehab after her Adderall was taken away. (Oh, wait, that’s already happened.) I’ll continue to troll the web for stories about the Duchess to see how fast she loses the five pounds she gained while pregnant. We’ll all go see Disney movies with our children, our hearts beating hard as the Princess and the Prince embrace after fire and brimstone and other assorted disastrous circumstances fight to keep them apart.
Lately, I’ve focused in on eliminating struggles in my life. One has been to be friendly with The Genius instead of being a Warrior. (I had thought I would be friends with TG, but thanks to the wisdom of a kitten, I’m going with friendly. I am doing this for the dudes. They need it and deserve it. And I’m doing it for me because being a Warrior makes me anxious.) So far the results have been fantastic. I feel really good about our future interactions. So now I’m moving on to Struggle Part Deux – deprogramming myself from years of judging my appearance as never good enough.
I am not intimidated by this task. It’s part logical and part spiritual. I am a perfect soul in a human body. I want to be here.
I didn’t just end up here and, Oh, the travesty of it all! I wanted to be here.
And I’m only here for a really short time. So while Kate is fascinating and I can stare at Gisele’s legs for hours coveting them, that gains me nothing but lost precious time. Worse, it screws with my mood, which kills the magic.
The real magic. Not the one that happens only at midnight with the touch of a wand. Tomorrow I will attend the first wedding since my own marriage went all pumpkin. I fell for the ice blue dress with a poofy skirt and a tiny satin bow around the waist. Mr. Viking will be my date.
I guess deprogramming will have to wait until Sunday.