No Denying She’s a Funny Girl.

       “Mommy?”
       “Yes?”
       “Who is your favorite Disney princess?”
        “Belle.”
        “Why?”
        “Well, I like that she’s smart and likes to read. I like that she’s not afraid to be different. I like that she loves her father, sticks up for him and makes sacrifices for him. And I like that she doesn’t marry the first guy who comes her way.”

I don’t know how many times I had this conversation with my mother, but it was a lot. God bless our parents who patiently have the same conversation with their children over and over and over again. We had that conversation enough that the answer stuck with me all this time.

Beauty and the Beast actually scared the living daylights out of me as a kid.  It didn’t scare me enough to not watch it, but it did scare me enough that I rarely requested to watch it by myself. But I happily watched it if my mom was watching, which was quite often, as it quickly became her favorite Disney movie. I just viewed it from underneath our folding couch bed, with the covers hanging conveniently that I could pull them over my face when I was scared. So, sure, it scared me, but it’s still an incredible film. Even underneath the folding couch bed, I was entranced. Come on, there’s a deep and solid story, enchanting music, stunning animation, and complex characters; the lead being “a beauty but a funny girl, that Belle”.

Belle’s influence on me was more subconscious than anything, honestly. The most conscious realizations that Belle was exceptional were those conversations with my mother. But Belle made an impression on me nonetheless. I was an odd kid (“She doesn’t quite fit in”). I LOVED to read and daydream (“With a dreamy far off look, and her nose stuck in a book”). I wanted adventures; I specifically was fascinated with China (“I want adventure in the great, wide, somewhere”). Despite all this, I never had a moment as a kid where I went, “Oh! I feel like her! That’s cool to have a Disney princess who is like me!” But I did feel like her. And it was cool to have a Disney Princess like me.  And I’m grateful that she was there. I’m so happy that my mother introduced this strong character to me over and over again.

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Library Photoshoot 2013. Photo by Liz Zupp

So now it’s finally March 2017 and this week, the live-action version is being released nation-wide. I’m ecstatic. I am SO stoked to see what Emma Watson brings to the character of Belle. I’ve heard some people say, “Like, I don’t understand why they would cast her instead of someone with singing experience” HHMMM, yeah, I  also wonder why Disney would cast the accomplished, beautiful, talented actress who graduated with honors from an Ivy-League college and now works for the FREAKING UNITED NATIONS to play the bookish Disney Princess. PLEASE. Take many seats. But I digress. The more that has been released about the new film, the more excited I am.

But there’s one thing that especially warms my heart.

My little niece loves Beauty and the Beast. Like me, she also doesn’t request to watch it because it scares her, but she excitedly watches it with me once it is on the TV. She will fetch her Belle barbie doll and hold it up when Belle emerges from her home. She sits fixated on the screen, mouth slightly agape. She now calls roses, “Belle flowers”. She will dance around our living room for at least an hour after viewing, yelling/singing, “BEAUTY BEAAAST! BEEEUTTTYYY BEEEAST!” And when I showed her the trailer for the live action film, she was mesmerized. The only thing she chirped was,

“Real Belle! Real Belle!”

I loved having Belle in my childhood.

I’m really happy that she will continue to be a part of many more childhoods thanks to the new adaptation.

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