Delicate features, sweet voices, pretty dresses, Mary Jane complexes, gumption and stalwart sidekicks — how could a girl not feel a niggling of jealousy?
Just a niggling though, because these Disney-infused dreams worked their ways into our hearts at an early age. We had no resistance against the fairy tales magically brought to life in living rooms across America. No, we were much to busy being inspired, enraptured and drawn in by the bright tunes and fantastical worlds.
“Which princess are you?” was the inevitable question throughout elementary, middle school, high school and even college.
Bouts of anxiety followed the query. How could one choose between the headstrong Belle, the rebellious Jasmine and the sassy Tiana?
Redheads had it easy.
Girls watched breathlessly as Prince Eric steered a dilapidated, sunken boat out of a whirlpool and straight into Ursula’s black heart.
Gasps escaped as Pocahontas threw herself across John Smith’s back in an effort to save his life.
Sleeping bags laid out in front of the television. Little eyes jumped from side to side. Mulan stood uncertain under the weight of Shang’s censure. She dropped apples, yanked Yao into the stream and knocked her fellow soldiers down.
Toothless grins lit up the darkness in silent celebration of what was to come. The song “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” crescendoed. An arrow cut across the screen to land in front of Shang. Cheers erupted as Mulan’s victorious grin filled the screen atop the towering pole.
“She is so cool,” someone sighed from the heap of blankets, pillows and pajamas.
These movies provided larger-than-life experiences complete with true love’s kiss in under 90 minutes.
What was that?
Oh yes, true love’s kiss.
And now we come to the painful crux of the problem: single females betrayed by the promises seen in countless hours of Disneymania, but nonexistent in their life.
“Sex and the City” captured it best when Charlotte exclaimed to gal pals Miranda, Samantha and Carrie, “I’ve been dating since I was 15. I’m exhausted. Where is he?”
And Miranda quipped, “Who? The White Knight?”
Well, Miranda, yes.
Where is the sword-wielding, horseback-riding, fearless White Knight of our dreams with his engaging wit, dashing looks and unparalleled loyalty?
As one popular meme says, “Disney gave me unrealistic expectations about boys.”
Hey Mickey Mouse, tell your boss we want a refund.
We want a refund on all of those hours spent sighing over the first, perfect, life-saving kiss, laughing at the silly sidekicks’ hijinks and celebrating the victories of our heroines.
Sure, at the time it appeared Esmerelda needed our help. She was almost burned at the stake! Plus, it seemed very important to cheer her on as she fell in love with Phoebus, befriended Quasimodo and escaped the clutches of the vile Judge Claude Frollo.
And don’t even get me started on Tiana.
Do you need a recap?
OK, read closely. Her father is dead. She works at two diners in an effort to save up enough money to buy a restaurant; a higher bid comes in for the old sugar mill. Tiana kisses Prince Naveen, who was recently turned into a frog, in exchange for the money needed for the bid.
She turns into a frog.
Voodoo spirits are unleased on Tiana and Naveen.
Do I really need to go further?
Yes, Tiana does find true love with Naveen, but people, at what cost? She probably had to eat flies. My Aunt Shannon would just die. No, literally, as a frog she would starve.
Believe it or not, Readers, I am actually starting to feel better the more I list the trials of the princesses and heroines.
Let us continue!
n Rapunzel — trapped in a tower.
n Elsa — secluded emotionally and physically.
n Belle — took her father’s place in the Beast’s castle.
n Meg — owned by Hades.
n Cinderella — servant to evil stepmother and stepsisters.
Are you seeing what I am seeing, Readers? Disney had to give their protagonist love and happily ever afters, otherwise we would all realize just how wretched their lot really was. Those writers are mildly sadistic. I mean, one girl ate flies. In the melodic words of Meat Loaf, “I would do anything for love, but I won’t do that.”
So, ladies of Disney, you can keep your stellar songs, pluck, lustrous hair and handsome princes. Just as long as we single ladies can keep our Netflix marathons (and occasional fairy tale fixes), girls’ nights outs and independence to write our life as we see fit.
OK, yes, we still want true love’s kiss and happily ever afters, but really, I think there is a better way than the Disney end-all, be-all.