Issue 8, Creative Non-fiction: To the girls who grew up watching Disney’s Beauty and the Beast:



Pale. Light skinned. Delicate. Porcelain doll.
(But no one talks of just, rational and unbiased.)
The word fair is as one dimensional as the people whose lips it leaves.
As a child it always made me ask the question: Does that make men the unfair sex?
But I was hushed and told to mind my tongue. I didn’t take me much long to realize why.
The village I live in as tiny as the minds of those who live here.
They barely cross the borders and stay confined to the “civilized area.” Just like their opinions are shackled to their preconceived notions.
I have dreams bigger than the place they want me to fill. I have wishes and desires, a terrible longing to be more than what they tell me to be.
They have an unending list of rules that reduce women into well trained animals.
But I am not content to lie beside someone’s fireplace like an overgrown puppy.
I won’t sit still and smile so hard my face hurts.
I won’t say words I don’t mean.
I won’t be anybody’s girl.
I won’t be anyone’s wife. Gaston just had his share of fever dreams.
And he had the nerve to call my Papa crazy.
Father is a dreamer like me, his mind is a whirring interesting machine that is hard to decipher.
As I child I spent hours in his workroom, watching him, transfixed.
Grease and metal, screws and bolts and he would build a little corner of the world not tainted by the ideals of society. I was no good at those machines, believe me I tried.
My hands were too small to hold a tool.
But his notebooks with his spidery handwriting and complicated sketches turned a key into the lock of the prison society built for all of us.
Books became my escape.
Through the pages I live a life that does not make me cringe deep in my soul.
Because books won’t tell you that you are not perfect.
Belle, they call me.
I was named for beauty.

But this lady, I tell them, prefers pages to pectoral muscles.

They call me strange, beautiful but crazy.
But that’s the best thing about fairytales. Beautiful but crazy.
And so terribly censored.
They’ve reduced my tale to a bedtime story. Stripped it bare and clothed it to suit their purposes. Made me the damsel in distress. A victim bartered away for her father’s freedom.
But let the records be reset now. Let them know that I walked into the beast’s castle voluntarily. With my own carriage and my driver.  That I was not a captive, but a woman who could leave whenever she wanted.
Let them know that I tamed the beast, that I broke the curse not with true love but the truth.
The truth that society is going to call you names. It will tell you what to see and how to feel. They’ll try to prune at your dreams like they would at an overgrown bush.
I didn’t fall in love with the beast. The beast did not fall in love with me.
The beast fell in love with himself. The kind of love that ensures you aren’t a slave anymore. The beast learnt he was not unlovable. He stopped clawing for perfection and roaring for conformity.
That’s exactly the kind of love they don’t want you to know you can have.

The next time they try to dress you up in fairytales, don’t let them. You know you prefer oversize t-shirts so no one knows you have removed that annoying modern corset .And the next time they try to lure you with a happily ever after, throw the fact that you’ve lived a thousand happily ever afters without cutting yourself up to fit into the peg hole that they call “perfection”.

by Aadishree Dixit

Art – Warwick Goble, 1913

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