Have you seen the trailer for Ralph Breaks the Internet? Here’s my favorite scene from it.

[from trailer; Cinderella breaks a glass slipper and wields it like a shiv at Vanellope]
  • “Vanellope: Whoa, whoa, ladies! I’m a princess, too!
  • Pocahontas: What kind of a princess are you?
  • Vanellope: Uh…
  • Rapunzel: Do you have magic hair?
  • Vanellope: No.
  • Elsa: Magic hands?
  • Vanellope: No.
  • Cinderella: Do animals talk to you?
  • Vanellope: No.
  • Snow White: Were you poisoned?
  • Vanellope: No.
  • Aurora, Tiana: Cursed?
  • Vanellope: No!
  • Rapunzel, Belle: Kidnapped or enslaved?
  • Vanellope: No! Are you guys okay? Should I call the police?
  • Rapunzel: Do people assume all your problems got solved because a big strong man showed up?
  • Vanellope: Yes! What is up with that?
  • Pocahontas, Rapunzel, Elsa, Aurora, Moana:  She is a princess!”

As a girl growing up in the 90s, the Disney princesses molded my aspirations for adulthood.

They were uncharacteristically beautiful, charmingly delicate, and so special. Plus, they were always loved by a superhero prince who would rescue them from whatever problem was plaguing them.

     Your stepmother and stepsisters are bitches? You’re good.

     Evil sea witch wants to take over your father’s kingdom? You’re good.

     Asleep forever because you pricked your finger on a spinning wheel/ate a poisonous apple? You’re good.

And who wouldn’t want to be pretty, wear flowy gowns and waltz across the vast ballroom floors with a handsome prince?

Certainly not this little girl.

Skipping To Adulthood

In my first relationship after college, my boyfriend did really well in his work. My career was coming along fine, but I didn’t have nearly the same amount of success.

I remember distinctively thinking that my lack of tremendous success was OK. I could just depend on him for any future needs.

As a result, I didn’t develop grand aspirations for myself. I didn’t strive to grow in my career or pursue interesting projects to make the big bucks. I figured my future was secure because I had somebody to take care of me.

It wasn’t until we broke up when I realized how flawed my thinking was. I had taken the Disney princess narrative and embedded it in my perspective of success and relationships.

Sadly, I didn’t take after her.


Ladies, We Need To Reset Expectations

If men had the same Disney princess logic, they would look to us as their source of hope and happiness.  And I don’t know about you, but I’m too busy dealing with my own shit.

We can’t expect a big strong man to show up and save us. A big strong man is not happily ever after.

In our relationship, FM and I support and care for each other and we both carry the team in different ways. Even though FM is bringing home the bacon, I am still job searching and working on passion projects.  I’m continually trying to make myself a better person and stretching outside of my comfort zone.

Knowing the intimate details of our finances is also important- income, assets, debt, credit and we also share decision making for big purchases.

Relationships are made of independent people who take turns playing a dude or damsel in distress. There is no Prince Charming who is going to show up and solve all of your problems. That’s your job.

I think Disney is figuring this out too. They’re adopting a more modern approach and making strides in changing the messaging.  Moana, Elsa and Merida are fierce and independent women who unlock their potential to save the world, all without love interests. These are the princesses I hope my nieces aspire to be- and better for someone else to teach them this lesson than me.