Personally, I have a hard time identifying with princesses. I don’t want to be a princess, whether it’s the historical variety or the Disney idealization. Although I love wearing lolita fashion, “like a princess” isn’t a term I like to use to describe how I feel or how I want to be. Wearing elaborate outfits with fantastical details doesn’t make me feel like something else–it makes me feel like me. It makes me happy to be myself, which was something I had forgotten about as I grew up. I remember being perfectly content with who I was when I was a child, but at some point social pressures and day-to-day “politics” undermined my personal pride and made me uneasy and sometimes ashamed for liking the things I liked and not liking the things that I was expected to like.
The me that is myself is not a flawless, elegant young woman with a heart so pure and shining that even forest creatures long to befriend her. I am not poised and picturesquely beautiful, with an inner beauty glowing so brightly it glimmers through every pore. I have my faults and weaknesses, most of which are more noticeable than any positive aspects. These aren’t things I want to gloss over or pretend not to have, but things I want to work with and overcome. I want to be a better me, not a better different person.
I can understand the appeal of princesses. Princesses generally celebrate femininity, which is often otherwise looked upon with disdain. Princesses are not pressured to grow up, but to celebrate being youthful. Princesses don’t cake on layers of makeup as soon as they reach double-digits and flip through fashion magazines to beg Mom and Dad for $300 high-heeled shoes. Princesses don’t suffer from “the daily grind,” and it’s completely acceptable for them to be eccentric. Princesses have the wealth to enjoy luxuries as day-to-day necessities, but they also have the mindfulness and goodness to avoid being spoiled and intolerable. Romance comes immediately and easily to the princess, who is courted by dashing suitors and usually finds a destined true love before reaching 16! This is the escape that many girls wish for, because it’s not very close to the life anyone actually leads.
Yet, somehow, this doesn’t really appeal to me. I’ve always adored fairy tales, but I particularly liked the hard worker more than the princess. I liked the princesses before they were princesses, when they had to toil amid cruelty in a life filled with heartbreak, yet didn’t lose their gentleness and kindness. Inevitably these consistently-beautiful girls would capture the heart of a prince, break their curse, end their poverty, and never need to work again. I didn’t care for this predictable ending, and thus one of my favourite fairy tales is The Red Shoes. The young girl in the red shoes is not the flawless beauty of most stories, nor does she ever become a princess–she makes poor choices that very negatively affect her life, and learns a very hard lesson.
I want to be the kind of person who works hard and is happy. That’s how wearing lolita fashion makes me feel! I work hard so that I can afford and maintain my expensive hobby, and then I get to enjoy it. (I appreciate my days off more when I have been actually doing things otherwise; if I lived a life of luxury I know I’d get bored very easily.) Lolita fashion isn’t an escape where I pretend to be someone I’m not–it’s just another way for me to express myself. If it were appropriate for all situations, I’d wear it every day! (I won’t always work at a job with such a lax dress code, though! My business suits are waiting in the wings.)
How do you feel about princesses? Do you want to be one? Do you not want to be one? Is there some other “character type” you model yourself after?