As a little girl, I loved Disney movies. I liked all cartoon movies, but more than just an animated picture, I loved the Disney brand. I loved it so much that in the opening credits, when a shooting star would begin its journey over the Disney palace, I would "ooh" and "aah” in a sing-song voice. I may or may not have had a Disney princess poster in my room until I was 16 or 17 years old.
I think I also love the Disney brand because I am secretly a hopeless romantic. When I was younger, I would dream up my own fairytale life and watch it play out in my mind. When I imagined my young adult self, I was always tall, thin and beautiful, with incredible poise. And I could sing really well.
But recently, while sitting on my couch with friends watching a Disney classic, I realized that some of my most happy childhood memories have wronged me.
Expectations vs. Reality
Here are a few examples from the "that doesn’t happen in real life" category:
1. Every morning when Cinderella wakes up, she leans out of the window and sings a beautiful ballad. After summoning nature with incredible vocals, the mice and birds help dress her. Perhaps that is how she gets her special glow. Wouldn’t it be nice? Even on her worst day, Cinderella could pull off an apron and headscarf.
Most days I throw on sweatpants or elastic workout shorts because I don’t feel like wearing clothes that cling to my body. On the occasional morning when I feel like making myself presentable, it takes an hour of yanking a straightening iron violently through frizzy hair and applying a few coats of makeup. It’s a job. 2. In Disney love stories, there is always a prince, and always a happy ending. This is because the cute boy on the white horse always fights off the monsters and villains, and travels through treacherous mountains and forests.
In real life, I find boys don’t care quite that much. Often, they give up easily. Meanwhile, girls labor to make themselves appear beautiful. They suck in and primp and smile and twirl their hair. For what? A quick glance, a smile—maybe.
Real people in romance can be very wishy-washy, but not Disney boys. Did the prince ever put his sword down in mid-fight to ponder, "Am I really ready to commit right now?" No, he presses on. The prince takes one look at the girl of his dreams and makes the decision to do whatever it takes to have her heart.
3. Snow White takes a bite of a poison-filled apple. She falls to the floor gracefully and enters into a deep sleep where she looks absolutely flawless while waiting on the prince to kiss her.
In real life, if I were given a poisonous apple, I would groan, turn green and then run to the nearest restroom where I would spend several hours lying on a cold floor near a toilet. I might even need to have my stomach pumped. Later, I might lie in bed for hours to sleep it off. I would slowly develop a serious case of bedhead, and red lines from my pillow would start to indent themselves on my face. On the off chance that a boy decided to come into my room and kiss me, he would immediately reconsider.
4. Jasmine stands out on her balcony looking out on a beautiful night sky when a nice boy flies by on a magic carpet and takes her on a romantic ride through the stars. On this ride they sing in perfect harmony and, of course, they fall deeply in love.
Sadly, the magic carpet concept probably isn’t the most unrealistic part of this scenario.
5. Ariel pops her head out of the water and arches her back so that her beautiful red locks fly through the sky in such a way that the sun reflects every strand perfectly.
… I mean, really?
What Disney fails to tell us is that when you wish upon a star, it usually doesn’t come true. A dream is a wish your heart makes, sure—but remember that when it happened you really were fast asleep.
Where Disney Has Left Me Today
As a 23-year-old, I sit in my apartment alone, and very single. I’m proud of my accomplishments, yet I can’t help but notice that, according to most Disney plots, one big piece of my perfect plan is still missing. I frequently joke about my early bedtimes and the many cats that wander about my apartment complex. But I joke to cover up insecurity.
It is difficult to grasp true love because I don’t think I’ve ever experienced love in a romantic sense. I’m left to guess what might be. I only know what I’ve seen through others’ experiences—and, of course, animated romance. Some relationships I admire; others leave me thinking I’d literally rather die alone than be in anything so unhealthy.
But as I mature in my faith, I realize the most important love is the love of our Creator. Prince or no prince, I am thankful for this life He has given me and for His unwillingness to adjust His plan to fit my timeline—even if it makes for a pretty messy fairytale.
Lauren Edwards is a single twenty-something, teaching second graders at an inner city school in Houston, and serving as an editor for The Poetic, a new web community for poets, writers and artists. Follow Lauren’s tweets @LaurenJoEdwards.