Wearin’ Mah Princess Pants

I have a dirty little secret, apparently. Or maybe it’s a pretty one. Who knows. All I know is that somewhere along the way, it has become wrong to like Disney princesses, or so I’ve been (repeatedly) told.

Oh yes, I’m on a soapbox. And, oh yes, this soap may smell a little bit pretty.

What’s wrong with a little princess (pun intended)?

Everywhere I look, there’s some article or person telling me that liking Disney princesses further solidifies the objectification of women and our shocking adherence to culturally specific (or non-specific) ideals of beauty. I’ve read that little girls have become negatively impacted by these idealized and impossible to attain concepts of beauty.

The debate rages with some fairly aggressive opinions, as though Disney is a reaper of souls, hell-bent on collecting little girls’ impressionable young minds like the witch in Hansel & Gretel’s gingerbread house collects children for dinner.

Good grief. I like Disney princesses because they are fairytales. Movies and stories I grew up with. They’re familiar and nostalgic and what? I LIKE FAIRYTALES OKAY? LET ME LIKE MY STORIES. GEEZ-AAAAH!

And Disney didn’t make them up (well, not all of them): The Brothers Grimm did (well, some of them). And, just for the record, while I have heard people complain that Disney took all the reality out in the same breath as complaining that the heroes and heroines are too attractive, I will assert that people would have a lot more to complain about if their precious Jennys and Johnnys were aghast at images of Cinderella’s stepsisters looking “more normal” while they CUT OFF THEIR TOES AND HEELS, SHOVING THEIR LITERALLY BLOODY FEET INTO THE GLASS SLIPPER TO FOOL THE PRINCE. Yep, I went there.

It’s a bit confusing to me. I mean, I grew up with these movies and fairytales, which I read in books (the scary originals—egad!). I lived in the ballet world, which is culture, right? So this Sleeping Beauty is okay, but this one isn’t? Guess which one messed with my body image and positive self concept (hint: It isn’t Disney). These movies were interpretations of stories. I don’t roam through my life wondering why I’m not actually a royal (well, maybe I do, but that didn’t start with Disney). Sure, I also wish I could fly, but I’m not in therapy because I’m angry at Peter Pan.

I mean, seriously. Do we honestly have so little to worry about these days that we are now attacking fictional characters? Because, here’s the thing: These are make-believe people. It is very clear to me that they are cartoons. Somebody DREW them. With a pen. I liked to watch these movies when I was little (okay, I watch them now), but I didn’t expect my pets to start conversing with me (at least not in English) and, unless I’m here and I’m wearing mouse ears, I don’t walk down streets expecting to see this:


Two points:

  1. I have noticed that increasingly, we worry that TV, movies and video games are causing people to distort their reality.Just for the record, billions of people have watched cartoons, movies and played video games without misunderstanding that what happened on that screen in front of them was, in fact, The Real World.
  2. While people insist that people are being swayed by the fictional images they see, we are ignoring the fact that we are all responsible for our actions, and when we are children, it is OUR PARENTS/TEACHERS/COMMUNITY, not Disney, who we should be depending on to teach our children real-time, real-life values.

    Maybe if we stopped pointing the finger and blaming others for not doing what we should be taking on and took some responsibility, we wouldn’t let so much rest on screen-based entertainment and we could just let kids enjoy them. Gasp.

The cartoons, movies and video games are ENTERTAINMENT, not babysitters or teachers, though I do think we can learn from them, too. I also think we get to choose how we react (much like with the Dove commercial) and I guess I tend to go with the positive, instead of actively seeking out more crap to be upset about (call me simple; I call me happy). Those people can feel free to keep picking something to be unhappy about, but I’ll go with this:


I can’t help but think that perhaps there are bigger issues with which we could wrestle. Like, oh, I don’t know, WORLD HUNGER/INEQUAL DISTRIBUTION OF FOOD AND WEALTH, FIGHTING IN THE NAME OF RELIGION, LACK OF MEDICAL ACCESS (after all, we can thank greed for the fact that TB is now back with a vengeance)… You know, just to name a few.

But no: We’re going to take down some colourful cartoon characters, who are, ahem, MAKE BELIEVE. Like Ewoks (no one says I can’t like an Ewok, but they’re not realistic, either. Just sayin’…).

And honestly, I can’t help but sniff out a little bit of hypocrisy: Are those that tell me I’m obliviously ascribing to what society tells me is beautiful really telling me I am wrong for liking them? Oh, tell me more about what I should like instead. So, I can only like what they say is beautiful, as opposed to what other “theys” say? I’M SO CONFUSED: WHOSE DEFINITION OF BEAUTY AM I MEANT TO BELIEVE? Oh, right: Mine. I can also find different things attractive (in case you thought I only find beauty in Disney characters).

What of these angry (annoyed? frustrated?) people who dislike Disney princesses for perpetuating stereotypical concepts (made by, um, us): Do they dislike real-life people who fit that same mold? Are typically attractive people bad for our children’s impressionable young minds? Are they nothing more than their looks? Wouldn’t that be a negative and narrow-minded way to interact with people. How shallow. You see what I’m doing here, right?

Do I think Disney princesses are pretty? Yes. Do I feel miserable because I don’t look like Cinderella? No. Though, I do like her shoes (more to come on that, my friends. I know you can’t hardly wait.). And I wish all animals were my BFFs, like Snow White’s. And sure, maybe my hair would be more organized if a bunch of little birds styled it.

Besides all that, I kind of think each of those princesses embodied some pretty cool traits: Loyalty, Honesty, Optimism, Bravery. I could go on. And don’t get me started on Merida’s makeover and the controversy over how she looks (SHE’S A DRAWING, PEOPLE—RELAX).

You know why cartoonists draw sexy or attractive characters (they do it for the males, too, by the way)? BECAUSE THAT IS WHAT WE, AS CONSUMERS, WANT. It’s a two-way street. We get what we ask for, like so much else in life.

To be honest, all the people I know (girls/women specifically) who really love Disney or did when they were younger, are pretty impressive women. They haven’t sat on their tuffets and cried that they needed a knight in shining armour. They’ve gone out and made this world a better place. So did the Disney princesses, in my opinion. They made me happy, too.

So, I’ve decided that I get to choose what I like, regardless of why. How backwards of me. 😉

Thank you, Disney: I love your stuff. Thanks for making make-believe so fun.




No news is good news.

Hey, so I couldn’t think of a post on the weekend and was waiting for divine inspiration to descend upon my mind, or at least my keyboard. Clearly it didn’t happen. Oh well, there’s always next week.

Anyway, I have a dirty little secret. A sordid confession. I like to read the news. Actually, that’s not true: I don’t really like it. Not at all. It’s depressing and horrible and makes me feel sad, angry and helpless.

Today, I had to get up from my desk and walk away, after reading about two guys in Britain who used fanatical religious beliefs to fuel a terrible, horrible and shocking act of terrorism, in the name of God and revenge (I’m not providing a link to the story. I am not giving this backwards idea of a vengeful God who needs people to do shitty things to each other more airtime). I was shaking, from fear or from anger or disbelief, or all three, I don’t know.

How can this be our world? How can this be what people do to each other? Why? I mean, WHY? I’m so bloody tired of reading this garbage. It’s bullshit. It’s bad news. It’s bad for me. And it’s bad for you, too. Feeling anxious, stressed and angry is all kind of bad for your body.


So, you know what? I’m giving it up. No more reading the news. I have to scan medical news, for work, but no more clicking on the links up top. You know, those stories that get so much airtime, not just online, but on my heart and my mind, as they replay and wreak havoc on my perspective.

If it’s not about a miracle; if it doesn’t make my heart sing, then I’m not clicking on it. I’m done. I’m done with bad news.

Confessions of a Professional Writing Minor.

You guys, I had the best topic ever picked out on Sunday. So good, in fact, that I knew I didn’t need to write it down. It was that good.

Good or not, however, it turns out, my memory is that bad. I was hoping it would come back to me, but alas! It has not. I even went up and down a bunch of stairs, in case I’d left it on a different floor (I feel like this method may work better if you actually have stairs in your abode, which I do not). But nope, it’s gone.

Lucky for you (I hope), I have some drafts half-written. See? Procrastination does work.

So today, I have a brief yarn about my last final exam during my undergraduate reign. When it takes you seven years to procure your bachelor’s degree, it’s officially a reign, as opposed to a mere academic sojourn.

Now, I majored in anthropology and I minored in professional writing, after a brief foray into a creative writing major (“Oh, you don’t like my fictional main character’s hair colour? Tough beans.”) and then getting enough credits in history and psychology to have gone a plethora of directions (after four years, they will make you choose a major).

After the requisite two years of journalism (“Rachelle, you can’t just make up facts in a lead,” my prof said. “What? I’m sure the royal corgis didn’t just sit there and watch the flames lick their fur!”), I grasped onto creative nonfiction like a cat in a bathtub clings to the tile grouting.

Why creative nonfiction? Because you get to make shit up, is why. I get to tell stories, but I’m allowed to make them better. By exaggerating. Hyperbole. It’s like a million times better than journalism. See what I did there? I get to embellish. It’s like I write stories and then use a Bedazzler on them to make ’em sexier (if this can be considered sexy. I submit that it cannot.).

Anyway. The classes for fine arts degrees are sporadic, since the faculty is small and the students of writing few and far betwixt. So, for the last course of my degree, which was offered once every Age of Aquarius, after a blue moon when the sky shines purple and the faun dances with the president, we had a bunch of creative nonfiction to read. Suffice it to say that I had not, in fact, completed any of the readings. Interestingly, my literacy level declined the longer I remained in post-secondary. Unless it was a mystery, fantasy or cheesy-ass romance novel, its pages and their contents were not graced by mine eyes in any great detail (I’m not proud of this and I’m sadly not making it up, either).

My professor, a renowned writer in her own right, had me pegged. “Rachelle,” she said, “I can tell when you’ve read the least of a book, because that’s when you always have the most to say.” She wasn’t wrong. This lady, she had all the great instincts.

You see, in grade 11, my social anthropology teacher (I took International Baccalaureate courses—but not the full diploma, thanks to chemistry being so frigging hard—so we had interesting options) once mentioned something similar: “Rachelle, I know you pull out the shovel, but I can’t tell where the truth ends and where your bullshit begins.” I think he was trying to say I’m a genius. Obviously. I was made for creative nonfiction. This is me choosing an empowering interpretation.

Regardless, this a skill (super power?) served me pretty darn well over the academic years. I wrote an (multiple?) entire paper(s?) (the night before, naturally, despite knowing about the deadline for three full months) by finding keywords in the index and then writing my supporting points completely out of context of the research/book, which of course, I’d never read, on account of it not being a mystery, fantasy or cheesy-ass romance novel. Well, and the fact it was like 3 am and the paper was due in seven hours.

I digress.

NB: This renowned writer and professor shall, for my purposes here, remain nameless. After all, I don’t know what the statute of limitations is for her to change my final grades and I don’t want to risk it.

This is the best magnet I have on my fridge. Très apropos, n'est-ce pas?

This is the best magnet I have on my fridge.
Très apropos, n’est-ce pas?

So, fast forward to the final exam. It’s open book, on any of the six books we’d covered (well, the six books they’d all covered and about which I’d bullshat ad nauseam). The night before the exam is also Adam’s company Christmas party. I was going to attend (what? I needed to eat dinner regardless, right?), but I was absolutely not going to have anything to drink, and I was going straight home afterward to speed read all my exam books and absorb their information by sniffing the spines (that’s where all the good stuff is). And then I wrote the exam and got 100 percent. This is exactly what I did.

No it’s not. This is a lie. Well, part of it, but I won’t tell you which part just yet. The other part is, at the least, a pretty magnificent expansion of the truth. What really happened is someone forced me to drink a mojito (“Okay, well, just one”) and then it became a contest and oh lord I have no idea what happened after that, but sobriety was definitely not on the list.

We made it home (I think? I don’t remember where I slept, to be honest, but I’m pretty sure Adam got us home) and I went to bed. I needed to be well-rested for my exam, right? So I could get up early and cram six books into my brain before my 9 am test. The last-ever exam of my seven-year undergraduate degree.


I totally overslept, since I had not, in fact, set an alarm. When I woke up, I swore profusely—”oh shitshitshitshitshit!” (because profanity always helps)—and put on clothes (maybe? It’s possible I wore my pyjamas) and somehow made it to school a solid 25 minutes into the exam. Well done, Bay. You should’ve seen The Look I got for my tardiness. I would’ve thought a little recognition for my determination to show up might not have been misplaced. I was like Frodo climbing Mordor, for crying out loud. Riddled with guilt and fear. And unlike the hobbit, I was hungover, to boot.

It was at this point I realized I’d left all my books AT HOME. Because that’s a good place for them to be during an OPEN BOOK EXAM. Good grief. So then, during the exam, I had to sneak around to beg surplus books off my fellow students. Why she didn’t toss my sorry ass out, I’ll never know. I took any book someone wasn’t using. Not like it mattered, really, since I’d read all of them in equal detail, which is to say, none at all whatsoever.

So then, I wrote like a madwoman, or certainly like one who has supremely wagged the dog and is trying to rush through an exam for which she is completely unprepared and late, to boot, all the while avoiding the laser beams boring into the crown of my unbrushed head from the desk at the front of the room.

I managed to look adequately and abashedly ashamed of myself when I handed in my exam and slunk out of the exam room, tail between my legs (just for the record, I don’t actually have a tail, in case you read that literally). This was when I realized that I would need to repeat an entire year, just to take one bloody course again, because there was no way I didn’t fail that exam. DAMN YOU MOJITOS. DAMN YOU TO HELL AND BEYOND.

A couple of weeks later, I was checking my photojournalism marks in the Fine Arts Building, when I ran into my creative nonfiction professor. Really, I just didn’t have time to duck into a bathroom or closet or garbage bin to avoid her. That’s when she smiled and congratulated me on my final exam score. I tried to remain nonchalant, because I just knew  she was about to tell me I failed and then do a jig to celebrate my pain.

“It was a perfect exam, Rachelle. 100 percent,” she smiled beatifically.

What. The. Eff. I glanced at her suspiciously through narrowed eyes, waiting for the guillotine to drop. It didn’t.

To this day, I’ll never know if I actually aced the exam, or if she fudged it when she realized she’d just have to deal with me a year later if I failed. It doesn’t really matter, though, does it? Not even one percent (because there’s no percent to spare when you ACE THE FINAL EXAM!).

All of this story is true, except for the parts that are obviously embellished. I’m (almost, but not really) ashamed to say it is more truth-based than most of my creative nonfiction. More nonfiction than creative, if you will.

The 100 percent is pure fact.



Sunday Morning S’bucks Ramblings

Well hello again. How are you? However, and wherever, you are, I hope it’s beautiful, because it is STUNNING out here on the west coast. If it is currently snowing where you are, I’m very sorry that you are having to deal with that. I hope that you realize that I actually do not have the power to control the weather. Yet. I’m sure it’s just a matter of time. In the meantime, you could always move. Plus, then we could hang out. It’s a win-win.

It’s the first weekend of the month, so I’m in Seattle for training. I got all in a tizzy yesterday because I didn’t get something. Turns out, I don’t like to not understand things. This is not shocking. I spent the majority of my MBA finance exam in tears. And in prayer, eyes skyward, praying for divine intervention. For three hours. I failed the exam (hey, there’s a first time for everything), but I passed the course. HOLLA! Anyway, I’m not used to not understanding things. Or maybe just knowing I’m not understanding things. Perhaps I don’t get stuff all the time, but live in blissful ignorance. WHOA, YOU GUYS, THIS IS GETTING SUPER META.

Anyway, I’m back at the ol’ Sunday morning Starbucks. The Team Starbucks, Or Teambucks, if you will, where I’m an honourary monthly member. Beardy Bearderson isn’t here, but there is another guy with a beard, so we’re still meeting our facial hair requirement. Phewf. I don’t bring a lot to the table in that regard (I’m counting blessings today).

The gentleman whose pants don’t leave much in the way of mystery (apart from how he doesn’t feel compelled to wear a belt) is here, talking to another regular; a wiry, greying black man with a few artfully placed dreads. Now, Friends, this is fascinating. The honourable Mr. Dread is explaining the universe to young Master Saggypants. I’m not even making this up, though I think perhaps Mr. Dread might be.

When I sat down, he was explaining how to count to thirteen trillion. I have no idea if he’s right or not (remember my finance exam? Numbers give me anxiety and anger; if you don’t believe me, ask to see the remnants of my grade 12 math textbook), but his audience is enthralled, which is utterly charming. I mean, you guys, when was the last time you heard someone exclaim, “Wow!” in a breathy, riveted fashion? I don’t know about you, but I certainly haven’t inspired such beguiling enchantment with my mere words (I need to start making up better stories).

This lemur is fascinated. "Tell me more, O Wizard!"

This lemur is fascinated. “Tell me more, O Wizard!”

Our astronomy lecturer is now expounding on the Big Bang Theory and I have no idea if he’s correct in his facts or not, either, seeing as how I spent my year of Astronomy 120 meeting boys, one of whom I married. Worked out pretty well for me, really, but honestly, I have no idea about anything in space. I had no idea there would be so much math involved. Or crushing on cuties.

Speaking about space, thank heavens for Colonel Hadfield. Have you been following this guy? He’s amazing. He’s a space commander, so that’s freaking cool, and for kicks, he’s up there doing science experiments in space, for the children (and me) back on Earth. Know what? I tweeted him. He hasn’t responded yet, but my question was super advanced, so I’m sure he’s just doing some diligent fact-checking and then he’ll hit me back. I tweeted him from work, and let me tell you: After communicating with AN ASTRONAUT IN OUTER SPACE, I really felt like I’d accomplished everything I could hope to do that day. “GUYS, I JUST MESSAGED SOMEONE OUTSIDE OF GRAVITY, SO I’M DONE HERE TODAY, KAY, BYE. OVER AND OUT. DID YOU SEE WHAT I JUST DID THERE? I USED SPACE-TRONAUT TALK. I’M AN ASTRONAUT NOW.”

I used to want to be an astronaut. I was the top science student from grade 8 to 10, inclusive—”What? IT AIN’T BRAGGIN’ IF YOU DONE IT!” By grade 11, science strangely turned into math—”Come ON!“—and I was out (my solution was to take IB Physics instead of biology. I know. I was clearly confused.). This brief dream burned brightly, until I really understood what a lack of oxygen meant and I was all like, “Feck this shit—I’m out!” Actually, there’s no WAY I would’ve said that then. I was not a swearer of obscenities. I was this kid. But I was a coward, thanks to Total Recall. I was going to link to a video of the scene where the dude’s eyes bulge out of his head, but it grossed me out, so you’ll have to look for it elsewhere.

Moving on.

Next to me is a big table, which is currently inhabited by a group of six retirees sporting team shirts. They’re blue—the shirts, not the people; they’re not Smurfs, after all—and they say “Alaska Bound, May 5 2013.” On the backs, they have their names. I suppose in case they get lost in a crowd (is Alaska crowded? I feel like it isn’t…). To my left are Deb, Teri and Bob. They seem like real nice folks, you know? I hope they find Alaska and everything they’re looking for and I hope Alaska is everything they’ve dreamed it would be.

Anyway, I love this Starbucks. If you’re ever here on the first Sunday of a month, before 8:45 am, come and find me. You’ll know me when you see me: I look like someone who is typing. And then you can learn about the universe and how to count to a bazillion. You won’t regret it.