This past week there was a lot of controversy surrounding a princess and her new look. And no, I don’t mean Kate Middleton and her cute little baby bump ( holla, little prince!). I’m talk about Merida, from the Disney Pixar Film Brave.
When I first saw this character jump across the screen in a trailer, I was so happy! Finally, a princess that looked, well,somewhat like me! Right down to the messy eating habits, and unruly curly hair. I applauded Disney for finally looking beyond the gleaming, straight haired princesses that gave up their voices for a man ( I’m looking at you, Ariel), and giving little girls a heroine who wanted to make her own path to happiness that didn’t involve some bulky,handsome man rescuing her for from a witch/sea monster/evil czar, evil stepmom. But, Disney let me down this past weekend, when they announced that Merida will be crowned the newest Disney princess, and thus, earned a The Princess Diaries makeover, complete with some no-carb dieting, a facelift, and some anti-frizz serum.
You might be thinking, Meesh,why the hell are you talking about cartoons on your fitness blog? Well, to be honest, I think it’s changes like this, on a character that was already loved, that encourages the notion that unless it’s perfection, it’s not good enough. That although you may be happy with who are you, it doesn’t mean that’s the you the world wants to see.
As far back as I remember, my battle with my appearance has been a tumultous one. It was bad enough my body refused to recognize whatever sliver of skinny gene was in my body ( I suspect the fat genes ate the skinny ones when I turned 15), but my hair, my face, nothing fit any aesthetic I was familiar with. Born in New York City, living in Texas, and starting puberty in Miami, I never quite fit in. I wasn’t Puerto Rican, Dominican, Mexican, or 100% Cuban. I was this crazy, naive girl who was half Cuban, half Salvadoran, with a brother and sister who had dark hair, dark eyes, a small, slim frame and olive skin. I was just, awkward. White, green eyes, haphazard hair, hips, and culo- and not even a J.Lo one at that.No one ever could figure out where I was from, since my features don’t necessarily scream one nationality. And my hair. FUCK my hair. I spent a lot of time brushing out my curls cause my mother raised me doing so. When I see photos from middle school/high school, I cringe. I see someone so lost on appearance,and on looking good. But it wasn’t cause I hated myself. I just seriously didn’t know any better. I had friends, I loved reading, I was a band nerd, I was a book nerd, I was a giggly, loud-mouthed girl who could careless what my hair/clothes looked like cause I never had the money to care about those things. Most years I was lucky enough to get new clothes for my birthday, much less for the first day of school. I would sit and watch the other girls debut their new jeans, tank tops, butterfly hair clips, and just thank the Lord I at least got a new pair of jeans for the year. When it came time to use makeup, my mother did not have time for that. She was a nanny, working from sunrise to sundown…there were no how-to’s on manicures, or eyeshadows or lipstick. I hate to admit that I really don’t think I learned much about makeup till the summer before I started college. I know for a fact the first time I got my eyebrows tweezed was at band camp. I was held down in a chair and my best friends tweezed the ever-living crap out of my eyebrows. My eyebrows, which I now get waxed/threaded by two professionals I pay to keep them in check. It had never dawned on me to even touch them before that day.
This trend continued throughout my teen/early adult life. I never felt outright ugly, I just never felt like I fit. I wasn’t a “Miami” girl-my weight and lack of luscious, straight wave hair took me out of that category a long time ago. I never had those perfect high eyebrows, and the fashion designers hadn’t quite made their trendy styles available to size 14 and above.But, I was me. When I went to college, I embraced my personality and apperance even more cause if I thought no one looked like me in Miami, Florida, you shoulda seen how different I looked in Gainesville! But this time,I had a part-time job, scholarships, and the financial aid fairy assisting me with buying my own makeup, clothes, etc so even if I didn’t quite fit in, I still had my own Meesh style.
Now, when I’m in social events, ( as I was last night), I still note the slight differences between me, and everyone else. Hair-still not perfect. Clothes- maybe not this season but hey,I’m trying! ( cause even plus-size fashion is expensive-must be all the extra fabric they need to cover the fat).Beads of sweat never fail to pop up on my brow when I start to get hot or nervous. I swear, sometimes I get so worked up about being out in a social setting I want to stay home. But then I think, why? Why stay home and let everyone else have all the fun? There’s no way every woman out there is stressing out this much over an outfit/look/hair issue as much as I am. But alas, we women do stress out over all these things.Hair is never just “thrown together”, and no one ever just rolls out of bed with a clear face, glossy lips, and perfectly lined eyes. I still get so mad at my hair sometimes I just throw it back in a ponytail, or bun, then bite my tongue when it actually behaves and someone ( usually with straight hair) says ” Oh, you look nice today!”. If only they knew how much one may try to look nice everyday, but maybe we ran out of hairspray, or conditioner, or woke up late. Or maybe, just maybe, we never saw ourselves fitting into what the world thinks is beautiful.
In a world full of beautiful roses, luscious, red, and symbolic of love, I am a sunflower. Some may find me quite ordinary, some may find me too plain. But it is me. Perfectly imperfect. And all the better for it.