I grew up on Disney movies.
The first movie I ever saw in theaters was “Aladdin.” I loved everything about it: twinkish Aladdin, beautiful Jasmine (later in life I met the voice of Jasmine, Linda Larkin, which was a dream come true), that cute little monkey, a flamboyant genie. What more could I want in life?
I wanted to be blond, like Cinderella and Aurora, but my favorite Disney princess was, by far, Belle from “Beauty and the Beast.”
Belle was beautiful; Belle was smart; Belle was a fellow brunette. We both loved to read and dreamed of more than our provincial lives. (Though, let’s be honest, if someone as hairy and chesty and handsome as Gaston came along and wanted to be with me, I’d be naked and lubed up before his little gay friend could finish that song.) (And, YES, I’m so fucking excited for the new live-action film starring Emma Watson.)
A lot of people say that Disney movies, specifically the ones involving princesses, gave them unrealistic expectations about love. They say people who love these movies need to grow up. I used to think that way, especially when my first boyfriend broke up with me on my 17th birthday, or when The Ex Fiancé broke off our engagement. Now, however, I see things a little differently.
Sure, they always end up happily ever after. And maybe life doesn’t work that way, and that’s an unrealistic expectation I hope for. But look at the leading men in these movies.
They weren’t perfect. The Beast is a literal beast, one Belle has to tame (for lack of a better word) and groom (I really need better words) before they can be together. Aladdin is a street-rat thief; Jasmine is the one who can save him from a life of poverty. Prince Eric is an idiot who doesn’t take any of Ariel’s body-language hints, AND he tries to marry someone else. (Never mind that it’s Ursula, and he’s just under her spell.) Prince Charming is a drunk mess who doesn’t recognize Cinderella when she isn’t wearing stripper heels, and c’mon, she cannot be the only size 7 in all the kingdom. Li Shang didn’t even know that Fa Mulan was a woman!
My point: Nobody is perfect. In Disney world or in real life. There’s always an adventure. There’s always a journey. There’s always a villain, be it an ex-boyfriend who won’t go away, a “friend” who doesn’t like you or a family member who doesn’t approve of your sexuality. There are always cute little animals to help you, be it an ex-boyfriend who gives you advice, a friend who keeps you inspired or a family member who’s there for you when you’re down. Sometimes it takes the leading man a while to figure everything out before he’s ready for happy ever after.
And if I’m just Christopher Robin, living in a Disney fantasy world, I don’t want to grow up.