My first childhood crush had a tail. She was all shimmery fins and red hair and oh that voice... my heart ached when she sang of longing, and I genuinely hated the sea witch for what she did to poor Ariel. I had no idea why I wanted to watch her, but I wanted to do it all the time. I didn’t understand yet, and wouldn’t for years, what the feelings I was having actually meant. My parents grew sick of my obsession and begged me to move on. Move on, I did. Never away, though. I simply aquired new crushes to add to my stable. Ariel would always be there in the background, her gorgeous angular abs hugged by fairytale frocks and fishes.
There was briar rose. Her upturned nose seemed to understand that she was regal, even while being raised by faerie godmothers in the forest. The prince fought a sorceress in the guise of a dragon to save her. The songs were lovely, but there was something so delicate and amazing in the way her feet, in simple black flats, trod among flowers without stepping on them.
Belle was all about books, and that was me and I wanted her to be my best friend and the entire time, I didn’t understand why the beast didn’t just kiss her. I would have kissed her. And danced all night in the ballroom with a teapot Angela Lansbury singing about the timeless nature of love. (Grownup me probably would have given the time of day to Gaston, though, simply because I’m a little self destructive.)
There was Peter Pan, who was one of my princesses simply because in my head, that disney creature was an amalgam of all the Peters. He was some androgynous blend of JM Barre and the red headed almost pixie of disney and Mary Martin in the classic play. I slept with my window open for years, and I wish I were exaggerating, but I desperately wished that the stories were true and I could ride the back of the wind and snuggle in a bed of leaves in a treehouse with my delicate, sexless love. I was so very, very much more clever than Wendy. Some would go with Tiger Lilly, but she looked just like all my cousins and I just couldn’t get past that.
I never got into Pocahontas. Maybe it’s because she also looked like my family, and I’ve never been much of an outdoorsman. I’ve always declared myself more back FROM nature, rather than back TO nature. Mulan’s dragon was too annoying for me to take her seriously, plus, she seemed to serious to sexualize. So many of the others just didn’t fit in my time.
I think our childhood crushes stay with us. They shape who we will be and who we will seek. That’s why I have a very important revelation to share. I had crushes on all of these princesses. They were beautiful and perfect. But there was one character that I won’t ever be able to simply file away with the crushes. I think I loved him. As much as you can love an animated, fictitious character.
It was the kind of love that repulses a little. It was so shocking, when I realized it. He was evil. Really, truly evil. His henchmen were obnoxious and clever, and he made all the perfect errors that the evil genius always does. They always lose in the end of disney movies. But he carried the best sword. And when he walked, he swayed his hips and smiled like he knew some secret that he was dying to share, but never would. His fashion taste was impeccable, and the second he got what he thought he wanted - control of the kingdom - he put the princess in shackles and barely dressed her in red. Everything was snakes and magic and elegant, sinister machinations. That’s why my princesses will always stay in their stable. And Jafar, you’ll be the one for me.