Despite my aversion to Disney princesses, Ariel, Jasmine, Cinderella, Snow White, Aurora and Rapunzel feature a lot in my house. Fighting it is futile – I even entered a Disney store to buy my daughter a present recently. That’s proper love that. I came out in a rash but it was worth it to see the look on my daughter’s face when she saw her new Princess knickers. Not only does my daughter feel good wearing them, but I feel good knowing that in about ten minutes, Ariel’s face will be covered in piss.
Who wouldn’t want a daughter idealising such perfect female role models, especially now Disney have changed their current ethos to make the princesses vulnerable, yet strong *gags*. Let’s take Rapunzel for instance. She is the perfect mix of feisty but feminine and knows how to capture the heart of her man with whimsical glances, shows strength using a frying pan as a weapon, but is vulnerable enough to allow herself to be saved in a true damsel-in-distress way by the was-a-rogue-but-love-changed-him handsome fellow. And of course they live happily ever after.
Something I found a little unnerving in the Disney store was the cashier asked me, “who was my favourite Disney character?” He was obviously programmed to ask this woeful question but I humoured the poor soul by answering, “Merida from Brave.” “Why’s that?” he asked. “Because she is an independent women who rejects the stereotypes of life and fights for her right to be free and live her life as she pleases without the need to rely on a prince to rescue her or define who she is as a person.”
The young lad looked momentarily bewildered, but then leant forward and whispered, “I love Gaston!” He then added, “I grew up watching Disney films and thought if you’re a good guy, you’ll get the girl. I found out when I grew up that it’s all bollocks. Now I want to be just like Gaston. Here’s your change.” “Ok. Thanks. Have a nice day (you loon).”
Slightly psychotic. However, It did get me thinking. Do these fairytales really have that much impact on who we become and our expectations of life and relationships? Is this why so many women are disappointed to the point of break up when their boyfriends don’t train a flock of blue birds to spell out ‘Will You Marry Me?’ in the sky? Or why a bloke might look elsewhere when his princess starts to look more like The Beast because she can’t be bothered to shave her legs and puts on a few pounds?
To counteract the Disney-effect, I’ve decided to write a follow up to my daughter’s (current) favourite film, Tangled, and read it to her at bedtime in the hope that her expectations of an adult relationship will be more realistic. She’ll need therapy and blame me for everything anyway; stealing her fairytale princess dream is a small sacrifice if it helps her make better choices in life:
Happily Ever After?
*Film ends with the words ‘happily ever after’ as Chinese lanterns float into the air. A short pause and ‘8 months later’ appears on screen*
Rapunzel sat herself down heavily onto the chair, rubbing her swollen cankles. Pregnancy wasn’t being kind to Rapunzel as her unnaturally tiny waist was finding it hard to stretch to the capacities needed to incubate a baby. She had fallen unexpectedly pregnant on her wedding night; her first sexual encounter had not been what she’d hoped. Excruciatingly painful and clumsy, Eugene spent most of the night apologising and trying to coax a sobbing Rapunzel out of the toilet because ‘she’d spoiled it’ by bleeding her broken hymen all over the place.
Rapunzel wanted desperately to be pleased about the pregnancy but she was still feeling down about finding out how many sexual partners Eugene actually had before her during his life as ‘Flynn Rider’, the handsome outlaw. He assured her that he loved none of them and it was all purely sex but it made no difference to her pride. She had to remind him of the fact that sleeping with 246 women whilst she had saved herself for ‘the one’ meant that he couldn’t truly love her; he would have stayed celibate until they met if he really loved her. Now she wasn’t sure she could even trust him anymore.
Despite trying desperately hard to reassure Rapunzel every day that he loved her, Eugene was getting tired of the Spanish inquisition about his previous life and was finding it hard to cope with the hormonal mood swings of a lady heavily with child. He thought being repeatedly hit around the head with a frying pan was in the past, but it had increased ten fold since she had became pregnant. Yes she is a princess and he now lives in a castle with all the riches he could possibly steal – exactly what he had always wanted – but the earache and headache didn’t feel worth it.
The last few weeks of Rapunzel’s pregnancy was filled with pain. She couldn’t sleep and her fanny bones were rubbing together making it near impossible to walk without looking like she had a marrow shoved up her arse. A few weeks passed and Rapunzel gave birth to a beautiful baby boy, after only 47 hours of labour, 3 cannisters of gas and air, an episiotomy and forceps. She only needed the catheter in for two days before the swelling went down enough for her to be able to urinate properly again.
Over the next few days, Rapunzel’s mental state went into rapid decline as the sleep deprivation took it’s toll. She lived on chocolate hobnobs and began to spend hours agonizing over the fact that baby would only sleep on her. Eugene had received a facial laceration with an emery board after suggesting they try giving the baby a bottle because it seemed very hungry.
Despite burning calories breastfeeding, the baby weight just wasn’t shifting due to the fourteen Jaffa cakes she was consuming every hour to deal with the fatigue and the endless decision making. She would see photos of stick thin Snow White and emaciated Cinderella on Facebook looking like they were having an amazing life and she’d noticed Eugene commenting a lot on Jasmine’s holiday snaps since she had split up with Aladdin.
“Is this it? Is this really happy ever after”, she thought? “Perhaps I would have been better staying in the tower where I was safe and protected from disappointment and betrayal. Perhaps Mother did know best after all….”