Princess to Feminist

Mary - Columbia
Entered on April 29, 2009
Age Group: 18 - 30
  • Listen to This I Believe on RadioPublic

  • Podcasts

    Sign up for our free, weekly podcast of featured essays. You can download recent episodes individually, or subscribe to automatically receive each podcast. Learn more.

  • FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about the This I Believe project, educational opportunities and more...

  • Top Essays USB Drive

    This USB drive contains 100 of the top This I Believe audio broadcasts of the last ten years, plus some favorites from Edward R. Murrow's radio series of the 1950s. It's perfect for personal or classroom use! Click here to learn more.

I have always considered myself a feminist. But since my first semester as a freshman in college, where I became engrossed in a women’s study course, my feminism reached new heights. I began scoffing at traditional dating guidelines and insisted on opening my own doors and buying my own dinner. Marriage was no longer a dream as it was when I was very young, but a task to be completed when I obtained the career of my dreams; a career that would pay far more than my husband-to-be. The desire I once had to be a carbon copy of a Disney princess declined as my determination to become a CEO increased. I didn’t need a prince to save me, because I would be so independent there would be nothing to save me from. Slowly the little Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty were eaten up inside of me, devoured by the lion that was my autonomy. Though I believe every little girl should be raised to be independent and with an understanding that she doesn’t need a man if she doesn’t want one, I also believe every little girl should have a day when she feels absolutely beautiful. Every little girl deserves that one day when she feels like a princess.

The day of my recital was marked heavily with uneven handwriting on my calendar. The huge “X’s” marked off the days before it were just as precious to me as the days counting down to Christmas or my birthday. Looking at the date left me imagining myself on the stage, glowing under the bright lights, a superior tap dancer to all the girls in my class. Not only would I get to wear a costume, but for the first time ever I would get to wear make-up! For years I had watched princesses on movies and dreamed of having their red lips, sparkly blue lids, and blushing cheeks.

The day of my first dance recital had been long anticipated day and my steps had been practiced countless times in front of my mother’s full length bedroom mirror. I would hum the song as my feet tapped along to my own beat. I felt like an honorary member of the Mickey Mouse Club in their opening number, navigating through my time steps and learned combinations with unquestionable perfection. The various scratches made by my tap shoes on the new hardwood floors were a symbol of my absolute commitment and love for dancing.

While my mother was cleaning I would sneak and wear my recital costume while I was practicing–just to get the full effect. It was the most intricate apparel I had ever laid my eyes on. The smooth fabric felt like imported silk underneath my tiny fingers and the silver sequence all along the trim of the skirt looked like diamonds when the sun hit them just right. I had promised my mother time and time again that I wouldn’t touch it until the day of my recital, but the black polka-dots covering the top half of the outfit just stared at me, daring me to wear it just one more time. Simply having it on made me a better dancer. It added clarity to each step in my shiny black shoes, made me bow just a few inches deeper when I completed my dance, and would make the cheers I imagined at the end of my routine a little more real in the silent bedroom. In my sixty dollar costume–made in china with the cheapest fabrics—I transformed into the best dancer I had ever seen.

Though my costume was going to be the best part of that day, wearing make-up was a very close second. I had always been told I couldn’t until I turned thirteen, but during my recital I had wear it! I had set in the bathroom watching my mother do her make-up for as long as I could remember, always using various shades to match her outfit. Begging for just a little red lipstick never worked and instead I would receive just a smear of chap-stick. But since our dance instructors dictated that it should be worn, my mother had no choice. I was dying to sit in the thickly padded chair in the bathroom, my face painted with different colors from the make-up basket.

On the day of my recital I felt as if Christmas, my birthday and a snow day had all arrived at the same moment. Finally all my hard work, and my beauty with the make-up and costume enhancements, could be shown to everyone that would come to watch. I walked around like a princess with my sponge rollers acting as a tiara and held my head just a little higher than usual. When it was finally time to get ready I bounced to sit in the chair where I would transform from a six year old little girl to a glamorous adult. I tried to wait patiently as my hair and make-up were being done, but couldn’t help peeking over my mother’s shoulder to steal glances in the mirror. When she finished she stepped aside and I could finally admire myself completely. My lips were a shade of red that clashed horribly with my blue shadowed lids–sparkly blue at my request–and my cheeks had too deep of a blush. My hair had been teased within an inch of its life and had been pulled up too high on my head. All this, along with a too frilly costume, left me looking as if I was made over by a gaudy old women that was going senile. I felt gorgeous!

That night while performing on stage I just knew those lights were shining for me and I was sure everyone noticed me above the other dancers. I had finally obtained that princess like glamour that I had always dreamed of. Even on my wedding day I doubt I will feel as beautiful as the day of my first recital. In my opinion, every little girl deserves that day. She deserves to feel special and glamorous; she deserves to have a day when she thinks she is the center of the universe. I am relieved that I came to a point of being a strong, independent, self-serving feminist and dismissed the dreams of my life becoming whole and well by a prince. But I will never regret that for one night–just like I had always dreamed–I got to feel like a princess.