After Rose sent me a link to College, disney-style, I remembered a picture of Disney characters hanging out in high school. (Because when I procrastinate, I type Disney into the deviantart search box and say goodbye to the rest of the afternoon.) If Disney were a high school, who would your favorite characters be? Rose says Mulan would be the girl that all the guys are friends with — intramural sports type. The “classic princesses” would be the sorority, cheerleader type. Ariel would be the one who went on and on about studying abroad, and Belle has Library Science written all over her. Rapunzel would be the girl who was *super* innocent in high school and is suddenly discovering what it’s like to have a life.
But, if you think hard about it, are the assumptions we make about princesses based on their appearances? I like Snow White in the above cafeteria picture, because she’s completely gothed out, and it strangely fits. She’s lost both her parents, been kicked out by her stepmother, and had a near-miss with a ruthless killer. Why would she still be whistling?! She’s basically living on the streets until the dwarves take her in. That girl has to be messed up.
Mulan, on the other hand, starts out as a pathetic soldier. Unless her father pushed her into the military and made her stay there, she’d have never made it past boot camp. She’s the only daughter of a strict Chinese family, and anxious to prove herself – I think she wants to get into law school, but can’t keep herself on the right track. No matter how hard she tries, she can’t seem to find where she fits, between her family’s expectations, the cliques of high school, and her own half-formed dreams. High school and college would be rough for Mulan, but I think she’d find her path someday.
But Shang is ROTC all the way. In fact, all the boys in this picture are dead ringers.
Jasmine, daughter of a rich Saudi family, would be desperate to fit in with the rest of the class, but her curfew would be 4:30, 6:00 on science club nights. And if she fell for the cute Indian boy whose parents are scraping up enough just to get him through college, there would be disaster on the horizon.
Cinderella has it tough, too, if she has to sneak out at night to meet her country club boyfriend (hey, I’ve seen Pretty in Pink). Why does her step-mom disapprove of the marriage? Probably because he doesn’t belong to the right church, or maybe Mrs. Tremaine has heard about the pool parties he throws. The kind her best friend Aurora (both working parents, raised by the nanny and gets away with anything she wants) brings Cinderella to. Cinderella doesn’t feel comfortable breaking the rules, but Aurora has taken her under her wing, and Charming’s attentions are thrilling, even if she feels she doesn’t know much about their real personalities.
Belle and Adam are both geeks on the fringe of the crowd, so they’re drawn together. The problem is, he only shows his nice side when they’re alone, and at school he’s something of a jerk. She’s too nice to say anything about it, and her friends can’t understand what she sees in the guy. But she’s always been one to try to rescue the wounded birds, even when it gets her hurt.
Tiana’s got her —- so together, Prince (the Artist) wrote a song about her. She may be first-generation college-bound, but she’s already filled out her papers for early admission at the Ivy Leagues.
But, Rapunzel and Ariel, their home and love lives are so twisted, they need professional help.
So, the lesson we learned in this exercise is that you can’t just relegate people to cliques and categories. It’s important to think about their reasons and motivations, just like in Breakfast Club. John Hughes knows all.
That is far more serious than I want to be tonight, so I’ll leave you with this picture of Simba and Nala hanging all over their elementary school teacher, Zazu.