It was Thanksgiving weekend in 1991, when I first viewed “Beauty and the Beast.” I was eight years old and had an awful haircut. I went to see the film with my mom and my aunt, and remember an older lady sitting in front of us telling her child not to sit there because the little boy behind us could not see. She was referring to me. I shrugged it off and sat back with my Skittles wondering if this movie would be better than “The Little Mermaid” because everyone wanted to be Ariel.
I left the theater obsessed. I could relate to Belle in every possible way. She was different, loved to read, she was smart and wanted more than just some mundane life. I started to ignore the bullies in school who teased me for reading. I kept my head in that book to remind myself that life would get better. I didn’t let others crush my dreams or tell me what I couldn’t do. Belle was my princess during a time when female self empowerment was still on the rise.
As the years went by, I never lost my love for the film. I continued to collect figurines, film posters, coffee mugs and t-shirts. I was blessed to be able to see the Broadway Musical before it left New York in 2007. I wrote countless research papers in college on the origins of “Beauty and the Beast.” I studied the self empowerment of the female lead in all types of different versions. My husband understood my love for the film so much he made sure to propose to me in the Beauty and the Beast area of Fantasyland in Walt Disney World. I cannot believe we are celebrating the 25th anniversary of this classic tale. It truly is a tale as old as time.