Every little girl wants to be The Princess. Scratch that; every little girl is told she needs to be The Princess.
If not by doting fathers wrapped around tiny fingers it’s by society pushing crowns and tutus like crack; inundating girl toy aisles with tiny plastic monarchs promising perfection and smelling of vanilla sugar.
Every Disney movie includes The Princess; naive Snow White, who would be put in a mental ward for schizophrenia due to her penchant for talking to animals and who made me feel bad for not feeling elated to do the dishes. Narcoleptic Aurora with her fat, fiery, fairy godmothers and avant garde multi-colored dress who had me peeking out with one eye each night waiting for moist prince lips. Cinderella pops to mind ratchet step sisters in tow and pure nature on her sleeve who never said no even when being treated like crap while patiently waiting for magical shoes. Ariel was my favorite with her perfect singing voice and unique ideas about kitchen utensils and I learned changing yourself for a man is probably best even if it means losing your identity. Even Jasmine, who eventually toppled Ariel with her belly dancing boudoir fashion, made me feel like if I could just get a 31” ponytail and a tiger then maybe I’d be worthy of rescue from the Jafars of the world.
Each Princess presents a different idea of what we should be in order to obtain the “ideal”: a prince, a beautiful castle, a happy ending. Imagine my surprise at 33 when I realized that all my blood, sweat, smiles and animal supported scrubbing of floors resulted in me becoming The Evil Queen. I consider myself a conglomerate of plus-sized, song slaying but jealous Ursula from The Little Mermaid with a hint of petty and conniving from the Evil Queen in Snow White and just a few dashes of bitter, spiteful pessimist from the Evil Stepmother in Cinderella. In the mess that is my adulthood sympathizing with these women became easy. Wouldn’t you be a tad tight if you’d been locked in a cave by some Trident wielding tyrant or were constantly compared to an immaculate, perky adolescent or left with three hormonal teenage daughters after being widowed in an era when seeing a woman in the workforce was like seeing unicorns in polka dotted bikinis sunbathing at the public pool?
These women were detested and as an adult I identify with them because I now know what it is to be hated. I have been judged, labeled and tossed aside. Life came into the boxing ring and threw so many punches that I’m left with two teeth, a bloody nose and the strong urge to poison someone’s apple. And for a while, I accepted being The Evil Queen and settled into a comfortable cloak of caustic scowling at Jared commercials while privately plotting to crash a ball and curse someone’s baby. Because when you’re young and convinced that The Princess life is the way to go no one mentions that you can only be The Princess if you’re perfect in the eyes of others. And when I realized I wasn’t ever going to be perfect for anyone, I gave up and started searching for the latest trends in underwater cave design.
So how exactly did I break free of a cynicism so deep I couldn’t even look at baby wipe commercials without cursing? How did I overcome automatically writing of any good thing as a trick to catch me off guard? How did I get back to planning my happy ending and preparing for my Perfect Prince?
It’s simple: I didn’t. Instead of forcing myself to get over life’s painful lessons I decided to actually learn from them. Which means as long as it took to learn to be The Princess, I’m giving myself just as much time to create and be something else. I’m allowing myself to believe that there is no ideal and I have the space and room to be The Princess, The Evil Queen and all that is in between. I am healing, growing, learning (which means a lot of crying). I am learning to accept help from others and along the way picking up a few tools to tuck beneath my petticoats:
Let Go of Perfection.
Women especially get sold the idea that there is perfection. Whether we are wives, mothers, girlfriends, sisters, friends or employees we are told there is a right way to be and a correct model to follow. We are constantly compared to other women (think about Ayesha Curry speaking about the NBA), shamed for our choices (even when they are as natural as breastfeeding) and only recently gaining basic rights with massive opposition (at least tampons are available to most of us now.) I finally decided that since no matter what I’ll be wrong I give up being right. Instead, I focus on what makes my spirit sing and go with that. Other people’s opinions don’t matter; who says I need a crown to be royalty? Maybe my mark of aristocracy is my talent for the twerk.
Take a Social Media Break.
Between the incessant memes, trolling twitter rants and constant ads for Tummy Tea, social media can lead you down a rabbit hole of self-loathing. So turn it off. I don’t go on if I’m in a particularly sour mood and I have established anti- social media hours refusing to get on before 9 am and never browsing after 9 pm. I’ve seen little improvement in my psyche. Not only do I not go to sleep thinking about Kim Kardashian’s latest nude pic, I also do other stuff. I finished reading a book, painted a picture, sat and talked with a friend. It’s funny, but suddenly I remembered there is life outside of the internet. Try it; I promise you won’t die.
Talk to Other Women Like You.
It is always important to recognize you are not alone and most certainly not the only one who struggles. Speaking with other women and creating a community of support is key in digging yourself out of potholes of depression. As a single mom, I felt constantly isolated and ostracized so I began to seek other mothers who could relate to my plight. I reached out to friends and even found famous idols like Taraji P. Henson (my favorite person in the world!) to look to when it comes to motherhood. It has helped me immensely and even created a small network of support when it comes to babysitting (for those instances when I need to practice twerking.)
Connect with Your Inner Spirit.
A relationship with God or a higher inner power has been a literal life saver. Whether it is a quiet moment of meditation each morning or before bed, crying out to God in the darkest of hours or sitting in a space with myself creating something that is a manifestation of God’s light through me, I have found that a growing partnership with my inner spirit keeps me grounded, whole and sane. Doing everything in my power to cultivate the bond between the essence of who I am and who He is has brought me back from the brink many times and reminds me of how truly blessed I am. Forget being The Princess, how can I not be The Queen when I’m already connected to the ultimate King?
Yes, I mean enjoy a glass of wine (Or 2. Or 5). But I also mean drink in life. Take in every beautiful moment of every beautiful day and actually drink in the positive in your life. Drink in all the love you can. Drink in sunshine. Drink in good music and movement. Drink lots of water. Store it all like a camel and nourish yourself with the nectar when things get rough. Pour yourself a glass of life’s incredible possibilities, hold it up, toast and celebrate you. Being drunk on happiness is way better than that time you drank so much alcohol that you gave a lap dance for 10 minutes with NO MUSIC. (Oh that was just me? My bad …)
So I don’t get to be The Princess. I don’t get a crown, castles are not free, Prince Charming is not coming to save me and I will never have a legion of mice to help with the chores (though I do have mice I’m about to ask for help with these bills.) That being said, I’m not going settling for being The Evil Queen. Call me crazy, but I’m going to keep a strong chokehold on bitterness and stay my smart, sweet, hopeful self in order to create a new title people can bow down to. After all, those Princesses and Queens came from stories and we all know the true purpose of life is to become the fairy tale authors of our own adventures. My story is gonna be great so I’m readjusting my crown, pulling up my big girl panties and forging my own way. Cuz that’s how real Queens do.
Images by Hayden Williams