If I were a Disney princess – if we all just suspend our disbelief for a minute and pretend it’s possible that my life might suddenly turn into a hand-drawn cartoon – I would be Belle. Every Buzzfeed and BoredPanda quiz about Disney princesses says so. (And yes, I have done them all, because I have extraordinary procrastination skills.) I adored Princess Aurora as a toddler, but in adulthood, I have realised that she does absolutely nothing other than frolick with a few forest animals (which, I admit, has a certain appeal.) She doesn’t even speak in the second half of the movie.
But Belle. Belle lives in a charming town in rural France. She has bad luck with men, it’s true – first, there are the unwelcome advances from local lothario Gaston (who proudly sings, “Yes, it’s true, I excel at expectorating!) and after that, she moves in with a beast. But he does have a castle. And that library.
When we visited Chateau Sainte-Sabine, I felt a bit like Belle. Granted, there was no beast in the castle. And I did have to bring my own reading material. But the beautiful French countryside setting, complete with sweet little deer wandering outside, had a wonderful fairytale quality to it. And the immaculate decor really did feel fit for a princess, Disney or otherwise. (I briefly considered furnishing our new home in the same style, but decided the Louis XVI style would probably look a bit out of place in a building constructed in 1965.)
Funnily enough, despite my love of princess Aurora and, later, Belle, I wasn’t the kind of little girl who dreamed of being a princess. I did dream of having a princess’ wardrobe, it’s true, but not of living like one. I know many other girls did. In fact, I vividly recall a day in junior high when we were asked to share our goals – I understood the question to be career-related and probably said I wanted to be a writer. At least half of my female classmates responded that they wanted to marry a rich man. Disney movies probably had a hand in making some of them think that was a reasonable goal to set, unfortunately. But despite their overt sexism, I do love them. If you were a Disney princess, which one would you be?
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