Thursday, November 20, 2014

Redefining Our Image of Princesses

The years leading up to the realm of teenage life are very formative for any woman. That's the time when we're learning about our bodies, the world, and perhaps dreaming about a Knight in Shining Armor. I remember that during my pre-teenage years, there were a great many modern "princess stories." I love princess tales, romance comedies, and love stories in general. But over the past several months, I've been thinking about the ideas and images that many of these movies can insert into the minds and hearts of girls and women. Mainly, in regards to physical appearance.

Think about it: in many "princess" movies (or a love story), the main female "princess" character is either 1. Already the image of physical beauty and perfection according to society's standards (think the typical Disney Princess), or 2. Undergoes a transformation where she suddenly becomes a very appealing physically.

This really hit me several months back, when I watched the movie,
My Big Fat Greek Wedding. 
...And after!
 Thirty-year-old Toula has big glasses, plain looking hair, and drab clothes. She starts changing up her life academically and socially, changes her appearance, and voila! Boyfriend enters the picture. He didn't necessarily enter the picture because she changed her appearance, but that whole message still seems to be underlying there. 

And then I think about The Princess Diaries. These movies were great, and I really liked them when I first saw them. And I still like them! But think about Mia's transformation in the first movie. It's magical to watch her change from an ordinary, awkward schoolgirl to glamorous princess, but what kind of message is it sending? She underwent a dramatic physical change as she took on her princess status. Hello? Did it occur to anyone that she would have still been a princess even if she retained the frizzy hair and glasses? 

One of these days, I would love to see a good romance story/princess movie with a female character who exudes true beauty--beauty from within, that shines forth, even if she may not look like a fashion model. A female lead who is comfortable in her own skin, and knows that she is a princess and has beauty from her God. An overweight woman who isn't always obsessing about her weight or diets. A woman with acne who isn't frantic to cover up every zit with makeup all the time. A girl who has frizzy hair and owns it. How about a woman or girl with some kind of disability? (Hey Disney, you can totally steal any of these ideas. Could we have a Disney Princess who's a little on the plump side and recognizes her beauty? How about one with acne? Please?)
Every woman and girl is a princess, a daughter of the King of Kings. Yes, it's good to look presentable, to do our hair and makeup, and it's important to dress in clothes that reflect our God-given beauty (please don't hide your beauty--spiritual and physical--under a bushel basket of tents and potato sacks!). But it's extremely important not to get hung up in the physical everything. We don't want to be objectified by men--but then we turn around and focus on all these externals continually. 

A couple weeks ago, I was at a soup kitchen downtown, and met this awesome, beautiful woman who was eating there. She had such a huge heart, and took in all of the other individuals as her own children or grandchildren. This woman radiated the incredible love of Christ. Yes, she was a bit heavier weight-wise, and she wasn't wearing makeup, and her hair wasn't done up all cute. But do you know what? She was more gorgeous than a movie star. Her eyes sparkled with joy and love. I told her how beautiful her eyes were, and do you know what she said? "Really? No one has ever told me that before!" And she proceeded to give me an awesome hug. It became apparent to me that the message of true beauty isn't going out enough. Furthermore, as women buy into the objectifying myths of beauty that society and the media portray, sometimes men decide to join in on the objectifying action, and...problems galore.
 Let's stop objectifying the "princess" and see her true beauty shining forth.
Let's have a realistic ideal of body image.
Let's redefine our image of princesses. 

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