Fairy Tales. I love them. I love all forms of them. Books, movies, plays, ballets. I especially love new versions of them. Because the old ones sometimes leave something to be desired. Really, retellings of fairy tales are the closest thing to ‘fan-fiction’ I can stomach. I adore retellings.


“If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales.” -Albert Einstein


I grew up on fairy tales. ‘Raised by them’ might even be accurate. From backyard reenactments of Rapunzel to kitchen dance routines with a straw broom pretending to be Cinderella, my childhood revolved around fairy stories.


As an adult, I have become embittered to a great many of these sugar coated tales but I still cling to what’s underneath: the potential for true love and self actualization. And I’ve come to appreciate more than anything, my proud role as Self-Rescuing Princess.


I dare say that most of us here probably grew up on fairy tales as told by Walt Disney and his successors. And many of us, now that we are actually grown up, have realized what a load of shit most of what we learned from them really was.


When you look at all the lies we’ve been fed, it’s really no wonder that we’ve had such fucked up relationships and relationship expectations.


True Love does not come to you as Instant Gratification.


I can’t know every situation, for you maybe it did come to you like that, but I can’t see how that is ever possible. True Love is something so deep that it takes time to come to life and even more time to recognize.


As our generations grow older, and we are the ones behind the camera, controlling the production of new work, penning new versions of old tales, it is no wonder that we have made strides in shifting our culture’s view and started producing tales from the opposite perspective. Because we have finally realized that the flowery, sugar coated stories about instantaneous love and always being happy, joyful, and kind, just don’t hold up when you’ve been faced with death, betrayal, heartbreak, abuse, manipulation, divorce, child loss, et cetera et cetera et cetera.


It is time to tell the story from a different view point. And Disney has finally risen to the call.


I am so thankful that Disney is finally recognizing the folly of glorifying Love-Without-Friendship, which often seems to coincide with Stalkery Love (we have Twilight and the like for that), or even Love of Riches (I can’t explain this one without sounding like an asshole, so I’m just going to leave it for you to think about).


“Nobody poor was ever called democratic for marrying somebody rich.” -Sabrina (1954)

Seriously, though, I don’t even want to be a princess! (It’s the Queen or Nothing, bitches!) I really don’t want to wear a formal dress for more than two hours at a time (despite how much I dote over pretty clothes, I’ve already mentioned how much I love yoga pants, and pants in general). I don’t want to deal with Politics. I don’t want to be watched 24 hours a day. And I don’t want a Prince Charming. I want my hardworking, caring, normal guy, who can laugh with me and makes me laugh more than I have ever laughed before in ways I never have, build a life With me within our means, play with legos, walk the dog, clean the toilet, complain about the horrendous bigotry and all the beauty we see in our daily lives, write silly or serious stories with, wear ripped jeans or stained shirts, leave off the makeup for a night, belch in front of, and never be afraid of being less than cartoon perfect.


Disney is beginning to see that a better example of Love is one in which relationships are based on friendship, trust, and long standing relationships where the people in them have had time to get to know the deepest secrets, greatest fears, and most magnificent strengths of each person involved.


I am so thankful for their shift in dynamic from Love with a Stranger to the amazing journey that is Love, and even the many different forms Love can take.


I am so thankful for Toy Story, Brave, Maleficent, Once Upon a Time, and even Frozen (which I actually hated, but I’ll explain that later).


Maybe it’s thanks to their relationship with Pixar that Disney is finally changing their representation of Love and How People Find it. It’s rarely handed to us freely. There is almost always a struggle. And there is almost always a little heartbreak thrown in (sometimes a lot). Sometimes that’s the catalyst that makes us finally act, express our feelings, fight for what we want, or which leads us to a new and better path.


Now as The Disney Generations are becoming The Adults, we are, you might say, taking revenge upon those that lied to us. We are becoming the Fairy Tale Villains and telling the world how things really happen. And it is beautiful.


My director, John Fagan, of the Upstate Shakespeare Festival in Greenville, SC, once told us, during a rehearsal of King John (2003),


“Villains are never completely evil. They have Reasons for being evil.”


As a writer, I’m finding it a challenge to write villainous characters without them reading as flat – cardboard cutouts and stereotypical evil-doers. No backstory, just a lifetime of tying damsels to railroad tracks and over taxing the poor to build their seventeenth mansion.


Remembering that the Villain is also a person, has their own story, and probably has a reason for what they are doing is a very important thing. Both as motive for your character, and to make the story believable and full.


Look at Maleficent. Look at Regina and, to a lesser extent, Zelena. Look at Mor’du.


I won’t include all my thoughts on Maleficent, which I attended last night, because I want you to go to it Fresh. I will say these two things, though.


1. The movie and Story are Sheer Beauty

2. Heartbreak Changes People.


“Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.” -Neil Gaiman

Or as someone once responded, Befriended.

The Wedding Dress

When my husband and I got engaged on Christmas, the year before last, the first thing my sister-in-law, Anastasia, said (after all the hugging and squealing) was, “Let’s go to David’s!!” So, four days later, we did.


Nic and I had been talking about marriage (both jokingly and sincerely) since before we started dating, so it wasn’t a completely new idea, but still, the reality of actually, finally, growing up, finding true love, and getting hitched still felt like a total made up dream. And so, trying on wedding dresses was a weird and exciting prospect.

From the start I knew I didn’t want a ballgown (This has baffled me about formal occasions generally for years. How do you dance to pop music in a long floofy dress? I mean, really!) and I really didn’t want to wear white. I wanted a red dress. I knew that much. And I really loved the idea of a tea length dress. But I also knew that what you think you like might still not be the best match when you actually get close enough to it.

(Take note: This is a true statement about relationships, too.)

So, I tried on EVERYTHING. Every style they had available, I put one on. Anastasia picked out some of them and we agreed on a few and I picked out most and our amazing attendant Maria picked the rest with my requested parameters and a few surprises.

Some of them were so ridiculous that we couldn’t stop laughing, because, OMG How does anyone walk in these things????


I couldn’t even bend over to fix the hem! (I do admit that this dress made my ass look fabulous.)

I tried on a fully red dress, and was insanely disappointed. I think it’s mostly the awful bodice design, but again, I just didn’t feel perfect. The skirt I love, but it had to be the whole package.


A gorgeous mixture of white and red was at the forefront of my options and even though I had said, No veils!, Maria placed one behind the tiara, comb tucked into my brown locks, and I turned to look in the mirror, and burst into tears. Anastasia did too. And that is when I realized that I was actually going to be a bride. I was really getting married. This gown became my top pick.


I call the dress that flipped the YOU’RE A BRIDE switch my Russian Disney Princess dress. I mean, seriously.


During my two initial visits to David’s, I tried it on twice more, but ended up dropping the idea when I realized that it would be too much work to make the train lay right as I walked down the aisle and up to the stage, and then to fix the bustle and also to be able to move like I really wanted to be able to at the reception. So, I went back to trying on other dresses.

It’s kind of a shame we nixed this one, not just because it was so beautiful, but mainly because we immediately found a bridesmaids’ dress that fit perfectly with its lines – a prospect that would become horrifyingly difficult with all the favoured options. I actually tried on the black one for myself first, but that’s when I realized that finding the perfect dress would be signified by the bizarrely profound sense of Feeling Like a Bride. I could wear that black dress (in the gorgeously perfect apple red) all day long every day. It was that comfortable. But feeling like the co-star of the show of my lifetime did not happen.


There were other perfectly wonderful gowns. The prices were hard to swallow, but it truly is really hard to not feel amazing when you are dressed like Princess Grace:

I felt ridiculously awesome.


Apart from the cost, I kept going back to the reception. It would be weird to rock out to Bon Jovi while dressed like Grace Kelly. I would do my best if I had to, but it did feel a bit strange.

On the day I tried it on, this next dress did not Wow me, but looking back, if I ever had to go through the horrendous task of planning our wedding again, I think I might choose this dress. There was no train to fuss with. It had gorgeous accents already part of it. And it was very comfortable to move it. It was silly and floofy. But it was very Cinderella, and that was my favourite childhood fairy tale.


I didn’t find the gown I wore for our wedding until our second trip to David’s Bridal, when my Mother-in-Law, Grandmother-in-Law, Sister-in-Law/Maid of Honor, Bridesmaid/Oldest Friend, and Honorary Bridesmaid were all with me. It was both overwhelming and reassuring to have that many opinions in one place. Because, when the entire room full of women start crying at the same time, I’ll tell you what, you know you’ve found The One. It’s like that moment in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, when Harry meets the Phoenix and Holly Wand for the first time, and there’s a warm glow and everything just feels right. (Again, this is what finding the right partner feels like, too.) On this latter trip, I continued trying a variety of styles before I finally found My Gown.

Some of the gowns I tried were so beautiful that I felt like I was on a 1930s film set. I felt like I’d stolen this dress from some starlet and was wearing it illicitly. It was awfully fun to wear for a short time, but I didn’t feel like myself in the least.


I also vehemently objected to spending $1300 on a dress I was going to wear once. Even if it was Vera Wang!! (Paris Opera here I come!)

Other dresses were just plain silly on me. Soap Opera Night Gown, anyone?


I was starting to feel like I might as well just wear the undergarments they give you to fill out the dresses properly!


After trying on another dozen dresses, I finally put on this adorable tea dress, jumping around like I was dancing a role in Giselle, Act II, because, seriously, Total (50s) Myrtha:


I think it shows that I was really close. I loved it. Almost entirely. I was about to say it was the one, when one very smart friend said, “I don’t want to ask too many questions and confuse you, but are you sure you love this one? It is wonderful! But, is it the style of the dress, or the actual dress that you love?”

I stopped and thought. She was absolutely right to question it. So, I turned to Maria and asked what else she had that was similar. She brought two. I never tried on the second one.


Somethings don’t need to be questioned.


This is a very sweet tradition at David’s for when a bride finds the perfect match. Ringing the bell gave me the elation of something real and beautiful happening.


Finding the perfect match is kind of a big deal.

Image(photo by Rachel Peace)

Finding a beautiful dress isn’t bad, either.

DSC00984(photo by Steve Badgley)




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