WHEN I grow up, I want to be a... PRINCESS!
Four decades have passed and the tiara has pretty much eluded me. I have mounds of bills to pay instead of owning mounds of gold; a creaky leaky house instead of a castle, and I can’t fit into a ballgown or anything remotely princess-sized since I’m more Ursula the villainous caecilian sea witch from The Little Mermaid.
So, yes, I’m no princess. Well, not on the outside anyway. But I did dream of being one and I confess to having an endless fascination with princesses and even real-life royalty. After all, which little girl doesn’t dream of being a princess?
The tiara, the flouncy satin dresses and the sparkly slippers seem irresistible to many little girls (and the not-so-little girls). Far be it for us to eschew such fripperies! Recent research carried out by Brigham Young University among 198 preschoolers showed that 96 per cent of girls interacted with the Disney princess culture. The dream of being princesses is definitely an essential part of girlhood.
Of course, we princess-believers didn’t account for real life hitting us with the truth many disillusioning years later — the truth of us being horribly normal minus the tiara and the sparkles, with no royal resource or Prince Charming to fall back on. We had to slay our own dragons and work our regal behinds off to get our bag of gold. And the only fellows who hung around us were the ones with smelly socks, dodgy cars and modest bank accounts.
So real life may not be as exciting but who cares? Many of us still hold on to our “inner princess”. Our life may not fit the standard fairytale cookie-cutter and our happily-ever-afters may not necessarily culminate in a big thrilling wedding with cheering rakyat waving little flags on the sidelines, but heck, we’re still happy.
Disney’s National Princess Week ended recently and in a nod to that, here’s to bringing out our (fake) tiaras and looking back fondly to the days when we identified with Disney princesses, along with a host of other royal role-models. It’s time we celebrate our inner-princess even if we’ve kissed a million frogs and not one of them turned into a prince!
THE AUDACIOUS PRINCESS
Adeline Law, 44, Marketing manager
“THE only princess I ever wanted to be was Princess Leia! Truth be told, Princess Leia resonated with me because she was the only princess who wasn’t stick-thin, and neither did she wear opulent gowns or spend her days singing in her garden with talking birds and rabbits as she dreamt of Prince Charming.
In my galaxy, I, as Leia, would have my very own lightsaber. I’d have led the Rebel Alliance at a much younger age and travelled with Han Solo aboard his Millennium Falcon with my droids by my side. I’d have my own moment with Master Yoda where he tells ME that I’m the greatest Jedi who ever lived. While I’d still let my brother have that duel with the Emperor and my dad, I’d be leading the ground battle, front lining my soldiers with my kick-butt lightsaber moves... zzwwwnnggg zzzwwwwnnngg KKKRRRSSSHHHH KKKSSSHHHH!!
I suppose Leia isn’t your typical princess fare. My mental condition today would’ve turned out very differently if I had been captured by Jabba the Hutt and made to wear a bikini while being chained to him/it. If anything, Leia embodied the warrior spirit. Through her, I learnt that girls didn’t have to be pretty, wear dresses, sing in tune and learn to talk to animals. I learnt that girls can be witty and as tough as nails. I learnt that girls can lead an army. In my reality, I embraced the spirit of this warrior princess and became a student leader, and continued to lead many more times in my life.
Carrie Fisher (the actress who portrayed Princess Leia in the Star Wars saga) herself was the embodiment of a warrior. She was every bit as kick-butt, witty and individual as the Princess character. She once quipped that in her obituary that she wanted it reported that she “drowned in moonlight, strangled by my own bra”. And that’s how I continue to dream of becoming an audacious, bodacious princess — be it in this galaxy or one that’s far, far away.”
LOOK ON THE BRIGHT SIDE
Somy Krishnan, 21, Accounting student
JUST like most little girls, I did wish someday that I’d find a Prince Charming who’d sweep me off my feet and we’d rule together in a land far, far away, happily ever after. Wait. that sounds like a scene from Shrek! Never mind, you get my drift!
My all-time favourite Disney princess would have to be Mia Thermopolis from Disney’s The Princess Diaries. What’s not to love about Mia? She was geeky and awkward but her transformation from social underdog to sophisticated princess is the stuff most girls dream of!
I mean, which teenager wouldn’t want to suddenly discover that they’re actually heirs to a throne of a beautiful country like Genovia?
Then, of course, I grew up. Life in general didn’t turn out like any fairy tale I’ve watched as a child. Not every frog turned into Prince Charming. And neither did every “Prince Charming” sweep me off my feet. I do, however, still believe in happily-ever-afters — just not how fairy tales depict them. It simply comes down to our mindset that no matter what life throws at you, if we can look at the brighter side of things and always have a positive outlook, then we’ll be happy, no matter what.
That’s my definition of a happily-ever-after now. Not the typical one I dreamed of years ago, in that magical land far, far away!
THE LEGENDARY PRINCESS
Dr Ida Baizura Bahar, 43, Senior lecturer
BEING the only girl for nine years with three brothers (until my sisters came along), I always imagined I was Mahsuri, the legendary princess from tales narrated based on my mother’s hometown of Padang Matsirat, Pulau Langkawi. My aunties and female cousins would always remind me that we’re descendants of Mahsuri and are rightfully all princesses.
I was told we had our own protection against evil beings, witches or even lecherous men. If people mistreated us, they’d pay a heavy price as we’re protected by Mahsuri’s magic!
Mahsuri is someone I find extremely fascinating. I really felt connected to her and empathise with her challenges in life. In almost all other fairy tales, princesses need princes to save them. Mahsuri was different. In a time and place where women were often subjugated, Mahsuri was a victim of falsehood and lies. Her dying words spoken against those responsible for her execution proved to be powerful words which cast the island into hardship and bad luck for seven generations. She’s the epitome of truth and goodness, and her story is a reminder to those who are power-hungry that arrogance would just lead to their downfall.
Like all dreams, my own dream of emulating Mahsuri’s values could only work to a certain extent when I finally became an adult. Reality is such that, in some circumstances, a woman’s words are only good if supported by a man’s. But that is a cultural value inherited, which should be eradicated. A woman deserves to be treated like a princess all the time by all the men around her!
WAITING FOR MY PRINCE
Annabella Th’ng, 39, Customer Relations manager
BELIEVE it or not, I love Snow White! Growing up on a diet of princess-themed Disney movies, my perennial favourite remained that particular maiden with “lips as red as rose, hair as black as ebony and skin as white as snow”. As an impressionable child, I had fantasies of being the “fairest of them all”. Like any little girl, I wanted to be the prettiest and be loved by all.
I spent many afternoons in my room daydreaming about being Snow White, traipsing in meadows, singing and dancing with dwarfs, birds and all other (unimportant) side characters. I WAS Snow White and woe betide those (especially my sister) who thought otherwise!
I don’t think I’ve ever stopped dreaming of becoming a princess. I still harbour secret fantasies that a tall and handsome prince will sweep me off my feet, better still right in the middle of my workplace with envious co-workers around, and whisk me away in his waiting Ferrari or Lamborghini into the sunset. Oh well, we’re never too young to dream, are we? Age, schmage — I’m still a princess on the inside!