I was a huge Disney princess fan growing up; I had the Sleeping Beauty sleeping bag, I dressed up as Belle for Halloween…every year, and I even still know all the songs by heart. And can occasionally be heard singing them in the shower. Recently, as yet another way to procrastinate studying for my finals, my suitemates and I Netflixed the Disney version of Cinderella and spent a girls night enjoying one of the greatest classics of all time.
Much like the Golden Girls and The Simpsons, looking at one of my favorite childhood movies from a slightly more mature perspective was a completely new experience. I was alarmed by some of the things I saw. No, there weren’t any dirty jokes that once went over my head, but there were some seriously flawed messages being conveyed to the young and impressionable viewers. One, that evil people all have really big butts. The other, Disney’s very jaded, very antiquated definition of success for a woman.
At the end of any princess movie (or romantic comedy, for that matter) the girl is successful because she gets the guy. It doesn’t matter how awesome her life was before (Hello, Ariel was a princess and got to live under da sea!), she isn’t successful unless someone’s put a ring on it.
I hate the idea that success for women is defined simply by meeting the man who can make everything better. And I hate that I spent a good chunk of my life buying into that crap. As a single lady in the 21st century, I very much believe that before you can fall in love with someone else, you have to know and be confident in who you are. That’s what a healthy relationship develops from. And that confidence is what ultimately leads to a woman’ success, married or not.
So while Cinderella may not be successful until she finds the man that makes her a princess, I know that in real life there are so many more options to define success for us girls. Like dominating your university’s academics. Or making a name for yourself in student groups. Or surrounding yourself with some pretty kick-ass people. Because, yes, the people around us are important, but that doesn’t have to include some dude.
We all spend so much time getting dolled up to go out and meet guys at parties, in class and in student groups. And when we’re not primping, we’re analyzing. And talking. And sometimes stalking. But for what? If we spent half as much time trying to woo some guy, we could focus our attention on more important things. Things that truly make us successful. Things that make us feel good on our own.
Because independent success feels good.
Eventually our Prince Charming might show up, but until then, I am just fine being a successfully single Cinderella twirling at the ball with my girlfriends.