My Disney movie preferences as a child were quite simple: give me a little bit of song, human involvement only when necessary, and as many animals as you could reasonably fit into the story. 101 Dalmatians was (still is) my jam. On a first date five years ago the guy asked me what my favourite movie was. I responded, no hesitation, with, “101 Dalmatians.” He followed up with, “I meant your adult favourite.”
Okay, see ya, bro!
(Just kidding – in true Caitlin style I went out with him again, and maybe a few more agains after that, because I didn’t understand the difference between lonely and alone yet. I was young, okay?)
I have always wondered why the princess movies never resonated with me like they did with other little girls. Jasmine had a tiger, Ariel had some aquatic friends, I could get my animal quotient and still enjoy watching women find their destiny, right?
Well, I guess so. Until I got older and more independent and so utterly wise it hurts that I realized my problem wasn’t the animal-to-human ratio or that the songs weren’t my cup of tea (Pocahontas sang some catchy shit), it was that the destiny these princesses found was in another person. In the animal movies there was always someone that needed to be saved, some relationship requiring mending, but they always did it with a strength of self that the princesses didn’t seem to possess.
I didn’t want to be saved by being married. And I certainly didn’t want to be told by an entire town that I was a total knob for reading a book when I could be bedding steroidal, megalomaniac Gaston. My family likes to remind me that I was a miserable infant, crying whenever I got the opportunity to cry, a baby who certainly didn’t seem to be enjoying her time alive like her older sister did. Then I started moving around on my own and I was still totally obnoxious but much more comfortable with life. I didn’t want people doing things for me, from birth. So why would I have enjoyed a movie about some girl being saved by love?
The only animal movie that crosses a bit of a line into the princess theme is Lady and the Tramp but I’m not as quick to dismiss it into the, “girl meets bad boy, bad boy is actually a good boy, girl gets saved by bad boy” category (it has dogs in it so obviously I’m not going to be unbiased here, okay?). At least Tramp showed her that she could break out of her little box and have a little fun. I’m pretty sure Billy Joel wrote “Only The Good Die Young” after watching Lady and the Tramp, just saying. And in the end they compromised, had a bunch of mutts, and lived a nice, respectful life together.
But she certainly wasn’t passed out in some tower, therefore giving the green light to some random to come along and kiss her. Maybe she was out a little late the night before. Maybe she needed that nap. Maybe she never wanted you to be the one to save her. Ever think of that, Mister Lipsmacker? No? Didn’t think so.
What I’m trying to say is that maybe I should have been paying more attention to my Disney movie preferences all long. It’s not that I’m not made for love – I love love, and I love being loved – but it has taken me too long to realize that love isn’t there to make me better. It’s not there to fix me or save me or complete me or destroy me. It’s there to compliment me and make me happy and make me feel safe and make me feel comfortable and feel good about someone else. The only person I’ve ever needed to come along and save me was myself. And every single ditch I drove myself into along the way was another attempt at life trying to show me that.
I’m not Jasmine or Belle or Ariel (despite the ginger hair). I have a good life and a lot of people who love me already. And I love them.
So no, I don’t want to be saved. I’ll do that myself.